Should Musicians Use Hearing Protection?

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

Musicians rock. They bring so much pleasure to our lives with their performances. The downside is that music is almost always loud, in fact, many people prefer it that way. Since musicians subject themselves to loud music frequently, their hearing is at greater risk of being harmed.

As you grow older, you’ll still want to be able to enjoy your favorite music whether you’re a musician or not. For musicians, safeguarding their hearing is the key to an extended and successful career. Hearing protection is also key to a lifetime of musical fulfillment for everybody.

Sometimes it can be surprising how loud music can be

If you ask the majority of individuals if a jet engine is loud, they’ll likely say yes.

But what about music? If you ask someone whether an acoustic guitar or a lone violin is loud, they might not reply right away. Usually, when they hear the answer, they’re pretty surprised: That can also be very loud music! Your ears can even be harmed by classical music which can reach fairly loud volumes.

Sounds higher than 90 dB can be produced by a violin, for example. A leaf blower is around this noisy. To put that into context, the European Union regulations dictate that any work environment louder than 85 dB will require the use of hearing protection.

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

How can you safeguard your hearing?

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

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

  • Track your volume: Knowledge is power, right? So being aware of volume levels of sounds around you will help you protect your hearing. Sometimes, this is as easy as keeping track of your volume settings on amps and receivers. But you can also buy a decibel meter app for your cellphone to make it convenient to track the real-world volume levels your ears are experiencing from day-to-day. If the meter detects volumes above 85dB regularly, you’ll want to address this.
  • Take breaks: Much like any part of your body, your ears can become exhausted and might need a little break. So give yourself “hearing breaks” regularly. This will help stop your ears from becoming overwhelmed with noise (and damage). Duration is almost as relevant 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

Of course, the single most effective thing you can do to protect your hearing is easy: using hearing protection of some kind. A lot of musicians are worried that ear protection will mute the sound and effects its overall sound quality. That’s not always true, depending on which kind of ear protection you choose.

  • Ear plugs made specifically for musicians: Disposable earplugs are something that’s probably very well known to most people. They’re pretty good at blocking a lot of sound although they sometimes don’t fit comfortably. They aren’t difficult to find, aren’t expensive, and can be disposed of easily. For musicians, they aren’t an ideal solution. But earplugs made just for musicians are also available at a slightly higher cost. These earplugs use fancy manufacturing methods (mostly they’re made out of very specific materials and are designed to fit comfortably in the ear) to preserve audio clarity while decreasing the noise you hear by something like 20dB. This solution is perfect for musicians who need a light to moderate amount of protection (and who don’t have a ton of money to invest in earplugs, or are likely to lose them).
  • Electronic earplugs: Electronic earplugs work in basically the same way as high-quality, non-electronic earplugs. The majority of the sound will be blocked by the earplug itself. But the earplug itself will pipe in the sound you hear. For people who work in really noisy settings and need better control of the volume, these earplugs are perfect.
  • In-ear monitors: Electronics are a significant part of modern music. An in-ear monitor takes those electronic signals and conveys them directly to a device placed inside of your ear (called an in-ear monitor). It’s like a specialized little speaker for your ear, and the majority of monitors can block out sound from the outside world (thanks to a fairly tight fit and specialized design). This means you can hear exactly how you sound, at a volume you control. In-ear monitors are useful for individuals who work mainly with electronically amplified instruments.

Protect your career by protecting your ears

It’s better to start protecting your hearing early, before any significant harm occurs. Everybody can protect their hearing and future with ear protection options at all price points. Don’t forget that you’re investing in your career by utilizing hearing protection for musicians. It’s one way to make sure you’ll be making incredible music for many years (maybe even decades) to come!

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.