Is Hearing Protection Recommended for Musicians?

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

Musicians rock. 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.

Whether your income relies on music or not, you’ll still want to be able to hear your favorite songs when you’re pushing 60, 70, or 80. The key to having a lengthy successful career, for musicians, is protecting their ears. For the rest of us, ear protection is the secret to a lifetime of musical fulfillment and enrichment.

Sometimes it can be surprising how loud music can be

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

But what about music? If you ask someone whether an acoustic guitar or a lone violin is loud, they may not answer right away. Usually, when they hear the answer, they’re pretty surprised: that music is certainly loud! Your ears can even be harmed by classical music which can get to relatively loud volumes.

Sounds higher than 90 dB can be produced by a violin, for instance. A leaf blower is around this noisy. In Europe, for example, they have regulations that require hearing protection for anyone who works in a setting where there is noise above 85 dB.

And if you’re working with music on a daily basis, consistent exposure to that kind of volume, particularly without hearing protection, can severely damage your hearing over time.

How can you protect your hearing?

Okay, musicians who want to preserve their hearing for years to come need to protect their hearing. So how can musicians keep enjoying their music while also preserving their hearing?

Here are a couple of tips:

  • Track your volume: Knowledge is power, right? So it follows that you should always be aware of what volume of sound you’re subjecting your ears to. Usually, this is as simple as tracking your volume settings on amps and receivers. But you can also monitor day-to-day volume levels of external noises using a volume meter app that you can download on your cellphone. You will need to make a few changes if the meter consistently detects volumes louder than 85 dB.
  • Take breaks: Your ears are the same as any other part of your body: they can become exhausted and will often benefit from a break. So take frequent breaks from the noise. This will help stop your ears from becoming overpowered with noise (and damage). Duration is nearly as important as volume with regard to hearing health. Taking breaks can be the difference between just the right amount of stimulation and too much!

hearing protection is important

Needless to say, the single most beneficial thing you can do to protect your hearing is easy: using ear protection of some kind. Many musicians are hesitant to use ear protection because they’re concerned it will effect the clarity of sound they hear, as well as dampening the volume. That’s not always true, depending on which type of ear protection you use.

  • Ear plugs made mainly for musicians: Most people are probably familiar with disposable ear plugs. They’re pretty good at stopping a lot of sound though they sometimes don’t fit comfortably. They’re not difficult to find, don’t cost much, and can be disposed of easily. And they aren’t best suited for musicians. But earplugs just for musicians are also available for a little more money. A specialized material and modern engineering are utilized to help these earplugs fit snuggly in the ear and decrease external noise by about 20% while preserving the audio fidelity. For musicians who need a moderate level of protection on a budget, this solution is perfect.
  • Electronic earplugs: Electronic earplugs work in essentially the same way as high-quality, non-electronic earplugs. The majority of the sound will be blocked by the earplug itself. What you hear will instead be routed in by the earplug itself. This solution is perfect for those who work in particularly loud settings, and who want more options in terms of controlling volume.
  • In-ear monitors: Most music is electronic now, or at least amplified by electronics. A device, known as an in-ear-monitor, is placed inside of your ear and passes signals in electronically. It’s like a specialized little speaker for your ear, and most monitors can block out sound from the outside world (thanks to a rather tight fit and special design). So you regulate the volume level and can hear sound in an accurate and clear way. In-ear monitors are useful for individuals who work mainly with electronically amplified instruments.

Protect your ears, and protect your career

It’s never too late to take measures to protect your ears, but it’s definitely a good plan to start sooner rather than later. With solutions available at just about every price point, there are easy ways for everyone to protect their hearing and their future. Remember, ear protection for a musician is an investment in your career. It’s one way to be certain you’ll be making incredible music for many years (maybe even decades) to come!

Don’t really know where to begin? Call us 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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