Your hearing is your most important instrument if you are a professional musician. So protecting their ears should be a high priority for every musician. Curiously, that’s not the case. Many musicians just accept hearing loss. The existing mindset seems to be: “it’s just part of the job”.
But certain new legal legislations and a focused effort to challenge that culture finally appear to be changing that attitude. Damage to the ears, injury that inescapably results in loss of hearing, shouldn’t ever be “part of the job”. When there are proven ways to safeguard the ears, that’s particularly true.
When You’re in a Noisy Environment, Safeguard Your Hearing
Professional musicians, obviously, are not the only individuals to work in a potentially noisy surrounding. Nor are they the only class of workers who have developed a fatalistic perspective to the damage caused by loud noise. But basic levels of hearing protection have been more rapidly embraced by other occupations such as construction and manufacturing.
more than likely this is because of a couple of things:
- Musicians need to capable of hearing rather well while performing, even when they’re playing the same material regularly. There can be some reluctance to hearing protection that seems as if it may interfere with one’s ability to hear. This resistance is typically rooted in misinformation, it should be noted.
- The saying goes “hard hat required”. That’s because the manufacturing and construction environments have many hazards. So construction workers, site foremen, and managers are likely more accustomed to donning protective equipment.
- In many artistic fields, there’s a feeling that you should feel fortunate just to have an opportunity, that no matter how harshly you’re treated, there’s someone else who would be excited to be in your position. So many musicians simply deal with poor hearing protection.
This “part of the job” mindset impacts more than just the musicians, sadly. Others who work in the music business, from crew members to producers, are implicitly expected to buy into what is essentially an extremely harmful mentality.
Norms Are Changing
Thankfully, that’s transforming for two big reasons. A milestone legal ruling against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. A viola player, during a concert, was subjected to 130dB of noise when she was placed right in front of the brass section. That’s roughly equivalent to a full-sized jet engine!
Hearing protection needs to always be available when someone is going to be exposed to that much noise. But the viola player experienced long periods of tinnitus and general hearing loss because she wasn’t provided hearing protection.
When the courts handed down a ruling against the Royal Opera House and ruled for the viola player, they delivered a message that the music industry was no longer exempt from workplace hearing protection guidelines, and that the industry should stop thinking 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 people in the music business who are afflicted by tinnitus is staggeringly high. And that’s the reason why there’s a campaign to boost 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 someone experiences, the higher the probability that damage will become permanent.
Utilizing current hearing protection devices, such as specially manufactured earplugs and earmuffs, can help protect hearing without compromising the musical abilities of anybody. You’ll still be able to hear what you need to hear, but your ears will be protected.
Transforming The Music Culture
The correct hearing protection hardware is ready and available. At this stage, safeguarding the hearing of musicians is more about changing the culture within the music and entertainment industry. This task, though it’s a big one, is one that’s already demonstrating results (the decision against the Royal Opera House has definitely provided some urgency for the industry to get in line).
Tinnitus is exceptionally common in the industry. But this doesn’t have to be the way it is. Loss of hearing shouldn’t ever be “part of the job,” no matter what job you happen to have.
Are you a musician? If you don’t want to miss a beat, ask us how to safeguard your ears.