When your favorite tune comes on the radio, do you find yourself turning the volume up? You aren’t on your own. When you pump up your music, you can feel it in your gut. And it’s something you can really take pleasure in. But there’s one thing you should recognize: it can also cause some significant damage.
The relationship between music and hearing loss is closer than we previously concluded. That has a lot to do with volume (both in terms of sound intensity and the number of listening sessions in a day). And many musicians are rethinking how they approach managing the volume of their music.
Musicians And Hearing Loss
It’s a pretty famous irony that, later in life, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He couldn’t hear any of the music he created (except in his head). There’s even one story about how the composer was conducting one of his symphonies and had to be turned around when his performance was finished because he couldn’t hear the thundering applause of the crowd.
Beethoven may be the first and most famous example of the deaf musician, but he surely isn’t the last. In more recent times many musicians who are well known for playing at extremely loud volumes are coming out with their stories of hearing loss.
From Neil Diamond to Eric Clapton to will.i.am, the stories all seem remarkably similar. Being a musician means spending just about every day stuck between blaring speakers and roaring crowds. The trauma that the ears experience on a daily basis eventually leads to significant harm: hearing loss and tinnitus.
Not a Musician? Still a Problem
You might think that because you’re not personally a rock star or a musician, this may not apply to you. You don’t have millions of cheering fans screaming at you (usually). And you don’t have huge amplifiers behind you every day.
But your favorite playlist and a set of earbuds are things you do have. And that can be a real concern. Thanks to the advanced capabilities of earbuds, pretty much everyone can experience life like a musician, inundated by sound and music that are way too loud.
The ease with which you can subject yourself to harmful and continuous sounds make this one time cliche complaint into a considerable cause for concern.
So How Can You Safeguard Your Ears When Listening to Music?
As with most situations admitting that there’s a problem is the first step. People are putting their hearing in jeopardy and have to be made aware of it (especially more impressionable, younger people). But you also should take some further steps too:
- Wear ear protection: When you go to a rock concert (or any sort of musical show or event), wear hearing protection. They won’t really lessen your experience. But they will safeguard your ears from the most severe of the damage. (Incidentally, wearing ear protection is what the majority of your favorite musicians are currently doing to protect their hearing, so even the cool kids are doing it).
- Keep your volume in check: If you go above a safe volume your smartphone may let you know. You should adhere to these warnings if you value your long-term hearing.
- Get a volume-checking app: You may not comprehend just how loud a rock concert or music venue is. It can be beneficial to get one of several free apps that will give you a volume measurement of the space you’re in. As a result, when dangerous levels are reached you will know it.
In a lot of ways, the math here is fairly straight forward: you will have more serious hearing loss later in life the more you put your hearing at risk. Eric Clapton, as an example, has completely lost his hearing. If he realized this would happen, he probably would have started protecting his ears sooner.
The best way to lessen your damage, then, is to lessen your exposure. For musicians (and for individuals who happen to work at music venues), that can be challenging. Ear protection might supply part of a solution there.
But keeping the volume at reasonable levels is also a good idea.