Your ears are your most precious instrument if you are a professional musician. So protecting their ears should be a high priority for all musicians. Strangely, that’s not the case. Most musicians just accept loss of hearing. The prevailing mindset seems to be: “it’s just part of the job”.
That attitude, however, is beginning to be challenged by some new legal legislations and concerted public safety campaigns. It should never be considered to be just “part of the job” to cause hearing loss. When there are proven ways to protect the ears, that’s especially true.
Safeguarding Your Hearing in a Loud Environment
Obviously, musicians are not the only people who are subjected to a loud workplace environment. And many other workers certainly have also developed a fatalistic approach to hearing issues brought on by loud noise. But other professions, like construction or manufacturing, have been quicker to undertake practical levels of hearing protection.
There are most likely a couple of reasons for this:
- In countless artistic industries, there’s a feeling that you should feel lucky just to have an opportunity, that no matter how harshly you’re treated, there’s someone who would be excited to take your place. So many musicians might not want to make waves or whine about inadequate hearing protection.
- A manufacturing and construction environment is replete with hazards (hard hat required, as the saying goes). So donning protective equipment is something site foremen, construction workers, and managers are more likely to be accustomed to doing.
- Musicians need to be able to hear rather well while performing, even when they’re playing the same music every day. If it seems like it might impede hearing, there can be some resistance to wearing hearing protection. It should also be mentioned, this resistance is commonly due to false information.
Unfortunately, this outlook that “it’s just part of the job” has an influence on others besides just musicians. Others who work in the music industry, from roadies to producers, are implicitly supposed to subscribe to what is fundamentally a truly harmful mentality.
Norms Are Changing
There are two reasons that this is changing, fortunately. The first is a milestone legal ruling against the Royal Opera House in London. A viola player, during a performance, was subjected to 130dB of noise when she was seated immediately in front of the brass section. That’s about the sound equivalent of a full-sized jet engine!
Hearing protection needs to always be provided when someone is going to be exposed to that volume of sound. But that wasn’t the situation, and the viola player experienced serious hearing impairment because of that lack of protection, damage that involved long bouts of tinnitus.
When the courts handed down a ruling against the Royal Opera House and handed down a ruling in favor of the viola player, it was a definite message that the music industry would have to take hearing protection laws seriously, and that the industry should stop thinking of itself as an exceptional circumstance and instead commit to appropriate hearing protection for every employee and contractor involved.
A Musicians Fate Shouldn’t be Hearing Loss
The number of those in the music business who have tinnitus is staggeringly high. And that’s why there’s a campaign to raise awareness worldwide.
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 tinnitus, hyperacusis, and loss of hearing. There is an escalating chance of suffering irreparable injury the more acoustic shock a person endures.
You can be protected without inhibiting musical capabilities by wearing earplugs that are specially designed for musicians or other cutting-edge hearing protection devices. You’ll still be able to hear what you need to hear, but your ears will be protected.
Changing The Attitude in The Music Industry
You can get the ideal hearing protection right now. At this stage, safeguarding the hearing of musicians is more about changing the mindset within the music and entertainment industry. That’s a huge undertaking, but it’s one that’s currently displaying some success. (the decision against the Royal Opera House has certainly created some urgency for the industry to pay attention to this problem).
In the industry, tinnitus is extremely common. But this doesn’t have to be the way it is. It doesn’t make a difference what your job is, hearing loss should never be “just part of the job”.
Do you play music professionally? Contact us to find out how to protect your hearing without missing a beat.