Your hearing is your most precious instrument if you are a professional musician. So you’d think musicians would be fairly protective of their hearing. Curiously, that isn’t the situation. Many musicians just accept hearing loss. The prevailing attitude seems to be: “it’s just part of the job”.
That attitude, however, is beginning to be challenged by some new legal rulings and focused public safety efforts. It should never be considered to be just “part of the job” to cause loss of hearing. When there are proven methods to protect the ears, that’s particularly true.
Protecting Your Ears in a Noisy Environment
Of course, musicians aren’t the only individuals who are exposed to a loud workplace setting. And some other workers undoubtedly have also developed a fatalistic perspective to hearing issues caused by loud noise. But basic levels of hearing protection have been more rapidly adopted by other professions such as construction and manufacturing.
most likely this has a couple of reasons:
- A manufacturing and construction environment is replete with risk (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 when performing, even when they’re performing the same music regularly. If it seems as if it will impede the ability to hear, there can be some resistance to wearing hearing protection. It should also be noted, this resistance is usually due to false information.
- Regardless of how harshly you’re treated as an artist, there’s usually a feeling that you’re fortunate and that somebody would be glad to be in your place. So many musicians might not want to make waves or complain about inadequate hearing protection.
This “part of the job” mindset affects more than just the musicians, unfortunately. Others who are working in the music business, from crew members to bartenders, are implicitly expected to buy into what is fundamentally a very harmful mentality.
Fortunately, that’s transforming for two big reasons. The first is a landmark legal ruling against the Royal Opera House in London. During a certain performance, a viola player was placed directly in front of the brass section and subjected 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 provided with hearing protection. But the viola player suffered with long periods of tinnitus and overall loss of hearing because she wasn’t given hearing protection.
When the courts ruled against the Royal Opera House and ruled in favor of the viola player, it was a clear message that the music industry would need to take hearing protection laws seriously, and that the industry should not think of itself as an exceptional case and instead commit to appropriate hearing protection for every employee and contractor concerned.
Hearing Loss Doesn’t Have to be Inevitable For Musicians
The number of individuals in the music business who are afflicted by tinnitus is mindblowingly high. And that’s why there’s a campaign to boost awareness around the world.
Everyone from wedding DJs to classical music performers to rock stars and their roadies are in danger of experiencing “acoustic shock,” a response to very loud noises which includes the onset of tinnitus, hyperacusis, and hearing loss. There is an increasing chance of suffering irreversible injury the more acoustic shock a person endures.
Using current hearing protection devices, such as specially designed earplugs and earmuffs, can help protect your ears without compromising the musical abilities of anybody. Your hearing will be safeguarded without diminishing sound quality.
Transforming The Music Culture
You can take advantage of the correct hearing protection right now. At this time, safeguarding the hearing of musicians is more about transforming the mindset within the music and entertainment community. This task, though it’s a big one, is one that’s already demonstrating success (the judgment against the Royal Opera House has certainly created some urgency for the industry to get in line).
In the industry, tinnitus is very common. But this doesn’t have to be how it is. It doesn’t make a difference what your job is, loss of hearing shouldn’t ever be “just part of the job”.
Are you a musician? If you don’t want your performance to be impacted, ask us how to protect your ears.