Your ears are your most precious instrument if you are a professional musician. So protecting their ears should be a high priority for all musicians. Oddly, that’s not the situation. In fact, there’s a pervading culture of fatalism when it comes to hearing in the industry. The existing attitude appears to be: “it’s just part of the job”.
But various new legal rulings and a concerted effort to challenge that culture finally appear to be changing that attitude. Damage to the ears, injury that inescapably causes hearing loss, shouldn’t ever be “part of the job”. That’s particularly true when there are established methods and means to safeguard your hearing without hampering your performance.
Protecting Your Ears in a Loud Environment
Professional musicians, of course, 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 injury caused by loud noise. But basic levels of hearing protection have been more quickly adopted by other professions like manufacturing and construction.
more than likely this has a couple of reasons:
- The saying goes “hard hat required”. That’s because the manufacturing and construction environments have a lot of hazards. So construction laborers, 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 performing the same material every day. If it seems like it will impede hearing, there can be some resistance to using hearing protection. It should also be noted, this resistance is commonly due to misinformation.
- However severely you’re treated as an artist, there’s always a feeling that you’re lucky and that someone would be exciting to be in your position. So many musicians just quietly cope 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 roadies to bartenders, are implicitly expected to subscribe to what is ultimately an extremely harmful mindset.
Norms Are Changing
Fortunately, that’s changing for two significant reasons. A milestone case against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. A viola player, during a concert, was exposed to 130dB of noise when she was placed directly 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 subjected to that amount of noise, you would be provided with hearing protection. But that wasn’t the case, and the viola player experienced serious hearing damage due to that lack of protection, damage that involved long battles with tinnitus.
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 would no longer be exempt from workplace hearing protection guidelines, and that the industry should stop thinking of itself as an exceptional circumstance and instead commit to proper hearing protection for every employee and contractor concerned.
A Musicians Fate Shouldn’t be Loss of hearing
In the music industry the number of individuals who suffer from tinnitus is mindblowingly high. And that’s why there’s a campaign to raise awareness worldwide.
Everyone from wedding DJs to classical music performers to rock stars and their roadies are in danger of experiencing “acoustic shock,” a response to very loud noises which includes the onset of tinnitus, hyperacusis, and loss of hearing. There is an escalating chance of having permanent damage the more acoustic shock a person withstands.
Using modern hearing protection devices, including specially manufactured earplugs and earmuffs, can help protect your ears without limiting the musical capabilities of anybody. Your ears will be safeguarded without reducing sound quality.
Changing The Attitude in The Music Industry
The correct 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 big one, is one that’s already demonstrating success (The industry is getting an eye opener with the judgment against The Royal Opera House).
In the industry, tinnitus is especially common. But it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t make a difference what your job is, hearing loss 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 protect your ears.