Should Musicians Wear Ear Protection?

Close up of drummer's hands playing a drum kit. Drums are very loud, the player should be wearing hearing protection.

Musicians rock. Their performances bring us so much enjoyment. But music is a lot more powerful when it’s loud, and that can be a hearing hazard. Since musicians expose themselves to loud music on a daily basis, their hearing is at greater risk of being damaged.

As you get older, you’ll still want to be capable of enjoying your favorite music whether you’re a musician or not. The key to having an extended successful career, for musicians, is protecting their hearing. Ear protection is also key to a lifetime of musical fulfillment for everybody.

Oftentimes it can be surprising how loud music can be

If you ask the majority of people whether a jet engine is loud, they’ll likely say yes.

Is music really that loud? People may not be so quick to answer that question if you ask them if a violin or acoustic guitar is loud. Imagine their surprise when they discover the reality: That can also be very loud music! Even classical music can reach relatively high volumes that can easily damage your hearing.

Sounds higher than 90 dB can be created by a violin, for example. A leaf blower is about this loud. In Europe, for instance, they have regulations that require hearing protection for anyone who works in a work environment where there is noise louder than 85 dB.

And if you’re working with music day in and day out, constant exposure to that kind of volume, especially without ear protection, can seriously harm your hearing over time.

How can you protect your hearing?

Okay, musicians who want to keep their hearing for years to come need to safeguard their hearing. So how can musicians continue to enjoy their music while also protecting their hearing?

Well, here are a couple of easy things musicians can do:

  • Take breaks: Your ears are the same as any other part of your body: they can become exhausted and will often benefit from rest. So give yourself “hearing breaks” regularly. This will help prevent your ears from becoming overpowered with noise (and damage). Duration is almost as important as volume when it comes to hearing health. Taking breaks can be the difference between just the right amount of stimulation and too much!
  • Track your volume: Knowledge is power, right? So being aware of volume levels of noises around you will help you safeguard your hearing. Sometimes, this is as simple as keeping track of your volume settings on amps and receivers. But you can also invest in a decibel meter app for your smartphone to make it convenient to monitor the real-world volume levels your ears are encountering from day-to-day. If the meter reads above 85dB consistently, you’ll have to do something about this.

Use hearing protection

Needless to say, the single most beneficial thing you can do to safeguard your ears is simple: wearing ear protection of some kind. Many musicians are hesitant to wear hearing protection because they’re concerned it will impact the clarity of sound they hear, as well as muting the volume. That’s not always true, depending on which type of hearing protection you choose.

  • Ear plugs made mainly for musicians: Disposable earplugs are something that’s probably very well known to most people. They don’t always fit perfectly, but they do reliably stop a lot of sound. They aren’t hard to find, don’t cost much, and can be disposed of easily. And they aren’t best suited for musicians. However, by paying a little more, you can purchase high-quality earplugs designed specifically for musicians. These earplugs use cutting-edge manufacturing processes (mostly they’re made out of very distinct materials and are designed to conform nicely to the ear) to maintain audio clarity while reducing the noise you hear by about 20dB. For musicians who need a moderate level of protection on a budget, this option is perfect.
  • Electronic earplugs: The same general functionality found in non-electronic earplugs can also be found in electronic earplugs. The earplug itself will block the majority of the sound. What you hear will instead be routed in by the earplug itself. For individuals who work in really noisy environments and need better control of the volume, these earplugs are ideal.
  • In-ear monitors: The majority of music is electronic now, or at least amplified by electronics. An in-ear monitor takes those electronic signals and sends them directly to a device placed inside of your ear (called an in-ear monitor). It’s like a special little speaker for your ear, and the majority of monitors can block out sound from the outside environment (thanks to a fairly tight fit and specialized design). This means you can hear exactly how you sound, at a volume you control. In-ear monitors are useful for people who work primarily with electronically amplified instruments.

Protect your hearing, and protect your career

It’s never too late to take measures to safeguard your hearing, but it’s definitely a good plan to begin sooner rather than later. Everyone can safeguard their hearing and future with ear protection solutions at all price points. Don’t forget that you’re investing in your career by using hearing protection for musicians. By doing so, you will be able to enjoy creating music for as long as you want to.

Don’t quite know where to start? Call us today, we can help!

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.