If you’re a professional musician, your hearing is your living. So safeguarding their hearing should be a high priority for every musician. Oddly, that’s not the case. Many musicians just accept hearing loss. The predominant mindset 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 shouldn’t ever be considered to be just “part of the job” to cause hearing loss. When there are proven methods to safeguard the hearing, that’s especially true.
When You’re in a Noisy Surrounding, Safeguard Your Ears
Obviously, musicians are not the only individuals who are subjected to a noisy workplace setting. And some 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 faster to undertake basic levels of ear protection.
Probably this is because of a couple of things:
- Regardless of how harshly you’re treated as an artist, there’s always a feeling that you’re fortunate and that somebody would be pleased to be in your place. So some musicians might not want to rock the boat or whine about inadequate hearing protection.
- A manufacturing and construction environment is replete with risk (hard hat required, as the saying goes). So construction workers, site foremen, and managers are likely more accustomed to donning protective equipment.
- Musicians need to capable of hearing rather well when performing, even when they’re playing the same material regularly. If it seems as if it will impede the ability to hear, there can be some opposition to wearing hearing protection. It should also be mentioned, this resistance is commonly due to misinformation.
This “part of the job” culture impacts more than just the musicians, unfortunately. There’s an implicit expectation that others who work in the music business like roadies and security go along with this harmful mentality.
Norms Are Changing
There are two reasons that this is changing, fortunately. The first is a landmark legal ruling against the Royal Opera House in London. While in a particular performance, a viola player was sitting immediately 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!
Hearing protection needs to always be available when someone is going to be exposed to that volume of sound. But that wasn’t the situation, and the viola player suffered extreme hearing damage because of that lack of protection, damage that involved long bouts of tinnitus.
When the courts found The Royal Opera House at fault and handed down a ruling in favor of the viola player, it was a definite message that the music industry would need to take hearing protection laws seriously, and that the music industry needs to invest in hearing protection for every employee and contractor and should stop considering itself a special circumstance.
A Musicians Fate Shouldn’t be Loss of hearing
In the music industry the number of those who are afflicted by 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 loss of hearing, tinnitus, and hyperacusis. There is an escalating chance of having permanent injury the more acoustic shock a person sustains.
You can be protected without limiting musical abilities by wearing earplugs that are specially designed for musicians or other modern hearing protection devices. Your hearing will be safeguarded without limiting sound quality.
Transforming The Music Culture
The ideal hearing protection hardware is available and ready. At this point, safeguarding the hearing of musicians is more about changing the culture within the music and entertainment industry. That’s a big undertaking, but it’s one that’s currently displaying some success. (the judgment against the Royal Opera House has definitely provided some urgency for the industry to pay attention to this problem).
In the industry, tinnitus is especially common. But this doesn’t have to be how it is. It doesn’t matter 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 safeguard your ears.