Your hearing is your most important instrument if you are a professional musician. So safeguarding their hearing should be a high priority for all musicians. But overall, that’s not the case. Most musicians just accept hearing loss. The existing attitude seems to be: “it’s just part of the job”.
But various new legal legislations and a concerted undertaking to confront that culture finally appear to be transforming that attitude. It shouldn’t ever be considered just “part of the job” to cause loss of hearing. When there are established methods to safeguard the ears, that’s especially true.
When You Are in a Loud Environment, Safeguard Your Ears
Professional musicians, of course, are not the only individuals to work in a potentially noisy surrounding. And some other professionals undoubtedly have also developed a fatalistic perspective to hearing issues brought on by loud noise. But basic levels of hearing protection have been more rapidly embraced by other occupations like construction and manufacturing.
There are probably a number of reasons for this:
- Even if a musician is performing the same music night after night, they have to be able to hear very well. If it seems as if it will hamper hearing, there can be some resistance to wearing hearing protection. This resistance is usually based on misinformation, it should be noted.
- The saying goes “hard hat required”. That’s because the construction and manufacturing 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.
- No matter how harshly you’re treated as an artist, there’s normally a feeling that you’re lucky and that somebody would be glad to be in your position. So many musicians simply deal with inadequate hearing protection.
Regrettably, this outlook that “it’s just part of the job” has an influence on more than just musicians. There’s an implied expectation that others who work in the music business like roadies and producers go along with this harmful mindset.
Norms Are Changing
There are two reasons that this is transforming, thankfully. The first is a milestone legal ruling against the Royal Opera House in London. A viola player, during a concert, was exposed to 130dB of sound when she was placed immediately in front of the brass section. That’s roughly comparable to a full-blown jet engine!
In most cases, if you were going to be exposed to that much noise, you would be given hearing protection. But the viola player suffered with long periods of tinnitus and general hearing loss because she wasn’t provided hearing protection.
When the courts found The Royal Opera House at fault and ruled for the viola player, it was a definite signal that the music industry would have to take hearing protection laws seriously, and that the music industry should commit to hearing protection for all contractors and employees and should not think of itself a special circumstance.
Hearing Loss Doesn’t Need to be Inevitable For Musicians
The number of people in the music business who suffer from tinnitus is mindblowingly high. And that’s the reason why there’s a campaign to raise awareness around the world.
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 tinnitus, hyperacusis, and loss of hearing. The more acoustic shock that’s experienced, the higher the likelihood that injury will become irreparable.
You can be protected without reducing musical capabilities by using earplugs that are specifically manufactured for musicians or other modern hearing protection devices. You’ll still be able to hear what you need to hear, but your ears will be safeguarded.
Changing The Culture in The Music Industry
The right hearing protection hardware is available and ready. At this time, safeguarding the hearing of musicians is more about changing the culture within the music and entertainment community. That’s a big undertaking, but it’s one that’s already displaying some results. (The industry is getting an eye opener with the decision against The Royal Opera House).
Tinnitus is exceptionally common in the industry. But this doesn’t have to be the way it is. It doesn’t make a difference what your job is, hearing loss shouldn’t ever be “just part of the job”.
Do you play music professionally? If you don’t want your performance to be impacted, ask us how to protect your ears.