If you’re a professional musician, your ears are your livelihood. So safeguarding their ears should be a high priority for every musician. But generally speaking, that’s not the way it is. Many musicians just accept hearing loss. They believe that loss of hearing is just “part of the job”.
But certain new legal rulings and a focused effort to challenge that culture finally appear to be changing that mindset. It shouldn’t ever be considered to be just “part of the job” to cause loss of hearing. That’s particularly true when there are established ways and means to safeguard your hearing without hindering your performance.
When You’re in a Noisy Surrounding, Protect Your Hearing
Obviously, musicians are not the only individuals who are subjected to a loud workplace environment. Nor are they the only group of workers who have formulated a fatalistic approach to the injury caused by loud noise. But basic levels of hearing protection have been more quickly embraced by other professions like construction and manufacturing.
more than likely this is because of a couple of things:
- A manufacturing and construction environment is replete with risk (hard hat required, as the saying goes). So construction laborers, site foremen, and managers are likely more accustomed to donning protective equipment.
- Even if a musician is playing the same material every night, they need to be capable of hearing very well. If it seems as if it might impede hearing, there can be some resistance to using hearing protection. It should also be noted, this resistance is normally due to false information.
- In many artistic fields, there’s a feeling that you should feel fortunate just to have a chance, that no matter how roughly you’re treated, there’s someone who would be willing to take your place. So some musicians may not want to rock the boat or whine about poor hearing protection.
Unfortunately, this attitude that “it’s just part of the job” has an influence on more than just musicians. There’s an implied expectation that others who are working in the music industry such as roadies and security go along with this unsafe mindset.
Thankfully, that’s changing for two big reasons. A landmark legal ruling against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. A viola player, during a concert, was exposed to 130dB of sound when she was seated immediately in front of the brass section. That’s about the sound equivalent of a full-sized 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 situation, and the viola player suffered severe hearing damage due to that lack of protection, damage that involved long bouts of tinnitus.
When the courts ruled against the Royal Opera House and ruled in favor of the viola player, they delivered a signal that the music industry would no longer be immune from workplace hearing protection guidelines, and that the industry should stop thinking of itself as an exceptional case and instead invest in proper hearing protection for all employees and contractors concerned.
A Musicians Fate Shouldn’t be Loss of hearing
The number of people in the music business who suffer from tinnitus is mindblowingly high. And that’s why there’s a campaign to boost awareness around the world.
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 hearing loss. There is an increasing chance of suffering permanent injury the more acoustic shock a person withstands.
Using contemporary hearing protection devices, such as specially designed earplugs and earmuffs, can help protect hearing without diminishing the musical capabilities of anybody. You’ll still be able to hear what you need to hear, but your ears will be protected.
Changing The Culture in The Music Industry
The ideal hearing protection hardware is available and ready. Changing the mindset in the music business, 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 results (The industry is getting an eye opener with the judgment against The Royal Opera House).
In the industry, tinnitus is very common. But it doesn’t have to be. Hearing loss should never be “part of the job,” no matter what job you happen to have.
Are you a musician? If you don’t want your performance to be impacted, ask us how to protect your ears.