If you’re a professional musician, your ears are your livelihood. So safeguarding their hearing should be a high priority for every musician. Curiously, that isn’t the situation. Most musicians just accept loss of hearing. They think loss of hearing is just “part of the job”.
That attitude, however, is beginning to be challenged by various new legal legislations and focused public safety campaigns. It shouldn’t ever be regarded as just “part of the job” to cause hearing loss. When there are proven ways to safeguard the ears, that’s especially true.
When You Are in a Noisy Surrounding, Protect Your Ears
Professional musicians, obviously, are not the only people to work in a potentially loud surrounding. Nor are they the only group of professionals who have developed a fatalistic approach to the harm as a consequence of loud noise. But other occupations, like manufacturing and construction, have been faster to undertake practical levels of hearing protection.
There are probably a few reasons for this:
- However severely you’re treated as an artist, there’s always a feeling that you’re fortunate and that somebody would be grateful to be in your place. So many musicians just quietly deal with poor hearing protection.
- The saying goes “hard hat required”. That’s because the construction and manufacturing environments have a lot of hazards. So construction laborers, site foremen, and managers are likely more accustomed to donning protective equipment.
- Even if a musician is performing the same material night after night, they have to be able to hear quite well. There can be some resistance to hearing protection that seems as though it may affect one’s ability to hear. It should also be noted, this resistance is commonly due to false information.
This “part of the job” mindset impacts more than just the musicians, sadly. There’s an implied expectation that others who work in the music industry like roadies and security go along with this harmful mentality.
Norms Are Changing
There are two major reasons that this is transforming, thankfully. A milestone legal ruling against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. A viola player, during a performance, was subjected to 130dB of noise when she was placed directly in front of the brass section. That’s about the sound equivalent of a full-sized jet engine!
In the majority of cases, if you had to be subjected to that much noise, you would be given hearing protection. But that wasn’t the situation, and the viola player experienced severe hearing impairment because of that lack of protection, damage that involved long bouts of tinnitus.
When the courts ruled against the Royal Opera House and ruled for the viola player, they sent a message that the music industry would no longer be immune from workplace hearing protection requirements, and that the music industry needs to commit to hearing protection for every employee and contractor and should stop considering itself a special circumstance.
Hearing Loss Doesn’t Need to be Unavoidable For Musicians
The number of those in the music business who have tinnitus is mindblowingly 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. The more acoustic shock that someone experiences, the higher the chance that damage will become irreversible.
You can be protected without diminishing musical capabilities by wearing earplugs that are specially manufactured for musicians or other cutting-edge hearing protection devices. Your ears will be protected without diminishing sound quality.
Transforming The Culture in The Music Industry
You can take advantage of the ideal hearing protection right now. Changing the mindset in the music business, at this point, is the key to protecting the hearing of musicians. This task, 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 need to be. Loss of hearing 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 your performance to be impacted, ask us how to safeguard your ears.