If you’re a professional musician, your hearing is your livelihood. So safeguarding their ears should be a high priority for every musician. Oddly, that’s not the case. Instead, there’s a pervading culture of fatalism regarding hearing in the industry. They think loss of hearing is just “part of the job”.
That attitude, however, is starting to be challenged by various new legal rulings and concerted public safety campaigns. Damage to the ears, injury that inevitably results in hearing loss, should never be “part of the job”. That’s especially true when there are established methods and means to safeguard your ears without hindering your performance.
When You Are in a Loud Environment, Protect Your Hearing
Professional musicians, obviously, are not the only people to work in a potentially noisy environment. And some other professionals undoubtedly have also developed a fatalistic perspective to hearing problems caused by loud noise. But other occupations, like manufacturing and construction, have been quicker to undertake basic levels of ear protection.
Probably this has a couple of reasons:
- A manufacturing and construction environment is replete with hazards (hard hat required, or so the saying goes). So construction workers, site foremen, and managers are likely more accustomed to donning protective equipment.
- Even if a musician is performing the same material nightly, they have to be capable of hearing very well. If it seems as if it might hinder the ability to hear, there can be some resistance to wearing hearing protection. This resistance is usually rooted in false information, it should be mentioned.
- In countless artistic industries, there’s a sense that you should feel lucky just to have a chance, that no matter how roughly you’re treated, there’s someone who would be willing to be in your position. So many musicians simply deal with poor hearing protection.
Unfortunately, this mentality that “it’s just part of the job” has an affect on more than just musicians. Others who are working in the music industry, from roadies to producers, are implicitly expected to buy into what is essentially a truly damaging mindset.
Thankfully, that’s changing for two major reasons. A landmark case against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. While in a particular concert, a viola player was placed right in front of the brass section and exposed to over 130dB of noise. That’s about the sound equivalent of a full-sized jet engine!
In most cases, if you had to be subjected to that amount of noise, you would be given hearing protection. But that wasn’t the situation, and the viola player suffered serious hearing impairment due to that lack of protection, damage that involved long bouts of tinnitus.
When the courts handed down a ruling against the Royal Opera House and ruled for the viola player, it was a clear signal that the music industry would need to take hearing protection regulations seriously, and that the music industry needs to invest in hearing protection for all contractors and employees and should stop considering itself a special case.
Loss of Hearing Shouldn’t be a Musician’s Fate
The number of those in the music industry who have tinnitus is staggeringly high. And that’s the reason that around the world there’s a campaign to raise awareness.
Everyone from rock star and their roadies to wedding Dj’s to classical musicians are in danger of experiencing “acoustic shock,” a response to very loud noises which includes the onset of hearing loss, tinnitus, and hyperacusis. There is an increasing chance of suffering irreversible damage the more acoustic shock a person withstands.
Deploying current hearing protection devices, including specially manufactured earplugs and earmuffs, can help protect your ears without compromising the musical abilities of anybody. Your ears will be protected without limiting the quality of sound.
Transforming The Music Culture
The correct hearing protection equipment is ready and available. At this point, protecting the hearing of musicians is more about transforming the mindset within the music and entertainment community. This undertaking, though it’s a big one, is one that’s already showing success (The industry is getting a reality check with the judgment against The Royal Opera House).
In the industry, tinnitus is very common. But it doesn’t have to be. Hearing loss shouldn’t ever be “part of the job,” regardless of what job you happen to have.
Are you a musician? If you don’t want to miss a beat, ask us how to safeguard your ears.