If you’re a professional musician, your ears are your livelihood. So protecting their ears should be a high priority for all musicians. Oddly, that’s not the case. Instead, there’s a pervasive culture of fatalism regarding hearing in the music business. The predominant mindset appears to be: “it’s just part of the job”.
That mindset, however, is beginning to be challenged by various new legal legislations and focused public safety efforts. It should never be considered to be just “part of the job” to cause loss of hearing. When there are proven ways to safeguard the hearing, that’s particularly true.
Protecting Your Ears in a Noisy Setting
Obviously, musicians are not the only individuals who are exposed to a loud workplace setting. And some other professionals certainly have also developed a fatalistic perspective to hearing problems caused by loud noise. But other occupations, like construction or manufacturing, have been faster to embrace practical levels of ear protection.
more than likely this is because of a couple of things:
- A construction or manufacturing environment is replete with hazards (hard hat required, or so the saying goes). So construction laborers, site foremen, and managers are likely more accustomed to donning protective equipment.
- In countless artistic fields, there’s a feeling that you should feel fortunate just to have a chance, that no matter how harshly you’re treated, there’s someone who would be happy to be in your position. So many musicians may not want to rock the boat or complain about poor hearing protection.
- Even if a musician is playing the same music every night, they need to be capable of hearing quite well. If it seems like it might hinder hearing, there can be some opposition to wearing hearing protection. It should also be mentioned, this resistance is usually due to misinformation.
This “part of the job” mindset influences more than just the musicians, unfortunately. There’s an implicit expectation that other people who work in the music industry such as crew members and security go along with this unsafe mindset.
Fortunately, that’s changing for two big reasons. A milestone case against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. A viola player, during a performance, was exposed to 130dB of sound when she was placed immediately in front of the brass section. That’s about the sound equivalent of a full-blown jet engine!
Hearing protection needs to always be available when someone is going to be exposed to that much noise. But that wasn’t the case, and the viola player experienced extreme hearing damage because of that lack of protection, damage that involved long bouts of tinnitus.
When the courts handed down a ruling against the Royal Opera House and ruled in favor of the viola player, it was a very clear message that the music industry would need to take hearing protection laws seriously, and that the music industry should invest in hearing protection for every employee and contractor and should not think of itself a special case.
Loss of Hearing Shouldn’t be a Musician’s Fate
The number of individuals in the music business who are afflicted by tinnitus is staggeringly high. And that’s the reason that around the world there’s a campaign to raise awareness.
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. The more acoustic shock that someone experiences, the higher the probability that damage will become irreparable.
You can be protected without reducing musical capabilities by using earplugs that are specially created for musicians or other cutting-edge hearing protection devices. Your hearing will be protected without reducing the quality of sound.
Transforming The Culture in The Music Industry
The correct hearing protection hardware is available and ready. Changing the culture in the music business, at this point, is the key to protecting the hearing of musicians. That’s a big task, but it’s one that’s already displaying some success. (The industry is getting an eye opener with the judgment against The Royal Opera House).
In the industry, tinnitus is especially common. But this doesn’t have to be how it is. It doesn’t matter what your job is, loss of hearing shouldn’t ever be “just part of the job”.
Are you a musician? Contact us to find out how to safeguard your hearing without hurting your performance.