Should Musicians Wear Hearing Protection?

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

Musicians are awesome! Their shows bring us so much happiness. But music is a lot more powerful when it’s loud, and that can be a hearing risk. Since musicians expose themselves to loud music frequently, their hearing is at greater risk of being damaged.

As you get older, you’ll still want to be able to enjoy your favorite songs whether you’re a musician or not. The key to having a lengthy successful career, for musicians, is protecting their hearing. Hearing protection is also key to a lifetime of musical enjoyment for everyone.

Music is surprisingly loud

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

Is music actually that loud? People may not be so fast to answer that question if you ask them if a violin or acoustic guitar is loud. Imagine their surprise when they discover the reality: that music is indeed loud! Even classical music can get to fairly high volumes that can easily damage your hearing.

A violin, for instance, can create sounds well over 90 dB. That’s around as loud as a leaf blower. To put that into context, the European Union laws stipulate that any workplace noisier than 85 dB requires the use of hearing protection.

And your hearing can be seriously damaged over time if you’re working with music every day, especially if you don’t wear ear protection.

Can you safeguard your ears from noise damage?

Okay, now you recognize that musicians need to protect their hearing (particularly if they want to keep on rocking out for many years). So what can musicians do to protect their hearing and still take pleasure in the music they love so much?

Well, here are a couple of easy things musicians can do:

  • Track your volume: Knowledge is power, right? So knowing volume levels of noises around you will help you protect your hearing. Monitoring the volume on amps and PA systems is one factor. But you can also track day-to-day volume levels of environmental noises using a decibel meter app that you can download on your cellphone. If the meter reads above 85dB consistently, you’ll have to address this.
  • Take breaks: Your ears are the same as any other part of your body: they can become exhausted and will frequently benefit from rest. So give yourself “hearing breaks” frequently. In this way, noises won’t overwhelm and damage your ears. Regarding hearing, how long you’re exposed is almost as significant as how loud it is. Taking breaks can be the difference between just the right amount of stimulation and too much!

Use ear protection

Using ear protection is the number one most effective way to protect your hearing. Many musicians are reluctant to wear ear protection because they’re worried it will effect the clarity of sound they hear, as well as muting the volume. That isn’t always the case, depending on which kind of ear protection you use.

  • Ear plugs made primarily for musicians: Disposable earplugs are something that’s most likely very familiar to most people. They’re pretty good at stopping a lot of sound though they sometimes don’t fit very well. They aren’t hard to find, don’t cost much, and can be disposed of easily. For musicians, they aren’t a great solution. However, by paying a little more, you can buy high-quality earplugs made chiefly for musicians. These earplugs use fancy manufacturing methods (mostly they’re made out of very specific materials and are designed to conform nicely to the ear) to preserve audio fidelity while diminishing the noise you hear by something like 20dB. For musicians who require a moderate amount 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 earplug itself will block out most of the sound. But the earplug itself will pipe in the sound you hear. For people who work in very noisy environments and need better control of the volume, these earplugs are ideal.
  • In-ear monitors: Electronics are a major part of modern music. A device, called an in-ear-monitor, is placed inside of your ear and transmits signals in electronically. The majority of monitors are little speakers that fit tightly and block out the majority of sound while playing sounds you want to hear at safe volumes. This means you can hear exactly how you sound, at a volume you control. In-ear monitors are practical for those who work mainly with electronically amplified instruments.

Safeguard your hearing, and protect your career

It’s never too late to take measures to safeguard your ears, but it’s definitely a good idea to begin sooner rather than later. Everyone can protect their hearing and future with hearing protection options for every budget. Keep in mind, ear protection for a musician is an investment in your career. By doing so, you will be able to enjoy creating music for as long as you want to.

Don’t quite know where to start? Give us a call today, we can help!

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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