If you’re a professional musician, your hearing is your livelihood. So you’d think musicians would be quite protective of their hearing. But overall, that’s not the situation. Many musicians just accept hearing loss. They think hearing loss is just “part of the job”.
That attitude, however, is beginning to be challenged by certain new legal rulings and concerted public safety campaigns. Damage to the ears, injury that unavoidably results in hearing loss, should never be “part of the job”. That’s particularly true when there are established ways and means to protect your hearing without eroding your performance.
Safeguarding Your Hearing in a Loud Environment
Of course, musicians aren’t the only people who are exposed to a loud workplace setting. And many other workers certainly have also developed a fatalistic perspective to hearing issues brought on by loud noise. But other professions, like manufacturing and construction, have been faster to undertake basic levels of hearing protection.
There are most likely a number of reasons for this:
- The saying goes “hard hat required”. That’s because the manufacturing and construction environments have a lot of hazards. So donning protective equipment is something site foremen, construction workers, and managers are more likely to be accustomed to doing.
- Even if a musician is playing the same music every night, they need to be capable of hearing very well. There can be some resistance to hearing protection that seems as though it may interfere with one’s hearing ability. It should also be noted, this resistance is commonly due to false information.
- However severely you’re treated as an artist, there’s usually a feeling that you’re fortunate and that someone would be pleased to be in your place. So many musicians just quietly cope with poor hearing protection.
This “part of the job” culture affects more than just the musicians, sadly. Others who are working in the music industry, from roadies to producers, are implicitly supposed to buy into what is ultimately a truly harmful mindset.
Norms Are Changing
There are two major reasons that this is changing, fortunately. The first is a landmark case against the Royal Opera House in London. A viola player, during a concert, was exposed to 130dB of sound when she was placed right in front of the brass section. That’s about the sound equivalent of a full-blown jet engine!
In most cases, if you were going to be subjected to that amount of sound, you would be given hearing protection. But the viola player experienced long bouts of tinnitus and overall loss of hearing because she wasn’t given hearing protection.
When the courts found The Royal Opera House negligent and ruled for the viola player, it was a clear message that the music industry would have to take hearing protection laws seriously, and that the industry should not think of itself as a special case and instead commit to proper hearing protection for every employee and contractor involved.
A Musicians Fate Shouldn’t be Loss of hearing
In the music business the number of individuals who have tinnitus is mindblowingly high. And that’s why there’s a campaign to boost awareness worldwide.
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 damage the more acoustic shock a person sustains.
You can be protected without inhibiting musical capabilities by using earplugs that are specifically created for musicians or other modern hearing protection devices. Your hearing will be safeguarded without reducing sound quality.
Transforming The Culture in The Music Business
The ideal hearing protection equipment is available and ready. Changing the culture in the music industry, at this point, is the key to protecting the hearing of musicians. This task, though it’s a difficult one, is one that’s already showing success (The industry is getting an eye opener with the judgment against The Royal Opera House).
Tinnitus is very common in the industry. 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? Ask us how to protect your hearing without missing a beat.