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

Musicians rock. Their shows bring us so much happiness. But music is so much more powerful when it’s loud, and that can be a hearing risk. The musicians themselves are at an even greater risk of hearing damage since they are subjected to loud music just about every day.

Whether your income depends on music or not, you’ll still want to be able to hear your favorite songs when you’re pushing 60, 70, or 80. For musicians, preserving their hearing is the key to an extended and successful career. Hearing protection is also key to a lifetime of musical enjoyment for everybody.

Oftentimes it can be surprising how loud music can get

Most people would say that a jet engine is really loud.

But what about music? People may not be so quick to answer that question if you ask them if a violin or acoustic guitar is loud. Usually, when they hear the answer, they’re pretty surprised: that music is indeed loud! Even classical music can get to fairly loud volumes that can easily harm your hearing.

Sounds louder than 90 dB can be created by a violin, for instance. That’s about as loud as a leaf blower. In Europe, for example, they have regulations that require ear protection for anyone who works in a work environment where there is noise above 85 dB.

And your hearing can be significantly damaged over time if you’re working with music every day, particularly if you don’t use ear protection.

Can you safeguard your ears from noise damage?

Okay, musicians who want to preserve their hearing for years to come need to protect their hearing. So what can musicians do to protect their ears and still take pleasure in the music they love so much?

Here are a couple of tips:

  • Take breaks: Like any part of your body, your ears can become tired and may need a little break. So give yourself “hearing breaks” frequently. In this way, noises won’t overwhelm and damage your ears. With regard to hearing, how long you’re exposed is nearly as significant as how high the volume is. Taking breaks can be the difference between just the right amount of stimulation and too much!
  • Track your volume: Everyone remembers the old saying “knowledge is power”. So being aware of volume levels of sounds around you will help you safeguard your hearing. Tracking the volume on amps and PA systems is part of it. But you can also track day-to-day volume levels of environmental noises using a volume meter app that you can download on your cellphone. If the meter detects volumes above 85dB consistently, you’ll want to do something about this.

Wear ear protection

Of course, the single most effective thing you can do to safeguard your hearing is easy: wearing hearing protection of some kind. Many musicians are reluctant to use ear protection because they’re concerned it will effect the clarity of sound they hear, as well as dampening the volume. But depending on what kind of hearing protection you use, that may not always be true.

  • Ear plugs made mainly for musicians: Most individuals are likely familiar with disposable ear plugs. They’re pretty good at blocking a lot of sound though they sometimes don’t fit comfortably. They’re cheap, easy to find, and easy to dispose of. And they aren’t ideal for musicians. But earplugs made just for musicians are also available at a slightly higher cost. These earplugs use modern manufacturing processes (mostly they’re made out of very specific materials and are designed to conform nicely to the ear) to maintain audio clarity while decreasing the noise you experience by something like 20dB. For musicians who need a moderate level of protection on a budget, this solution is perfect.
  • Electronic earplugs: Electronic earplugs function in essentially the same way as high-quality, non-electronic earplugs. The majority of the sound will be blocked by the earplug itself. What you hear will instead be piped in by the earplug itself. For people who work in really loud settings and need better control of the volume, these earplugs are perfect.
  • In-ear monitors: Electronics are a major part of modern music. A device, called an in-ear-monitor, is placed in your ear and sends signals in electronically. It’s like a special little speaker for your ear, and the majority of monitors can block out sound from the outside world (thanks to a fairly tight fit and specialized design). So you regulate the volume level and are able to hear sound accurately and clearly. For musicians who electronically amplify their instruments these in-ear-monitors are the perfect solution.

Protect your career by protecting your ears

It’s better to begin protecting your hearing early, before any substantial damage occurs. With solutions available at just about every price point, there are simple ways for everyone to safeguard their hearing and their future. Don’t forget that you’re investing in your career by utilizing hearing protection for musicians. By doing so, you will be able to enjoy making music for as long as you want to.

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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.
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