Do you turn up the volume when your favorite song comes on the radio? Many people do that. When you pump up your music, you can feel it in your gut. And it’s fun. But, here’s the thing: there can also be significant harm done.
In the past we weren’t conscious of the relationship between hearing loss and music. Volume is the biggest issue(this is in regards to how many times per day you listen and how excessive the volume is). And it’s one of the reasons that countless of today’s musicians are changing their tune to save their hearing.
Hearing Loss And Musicians
It’s a pretty well-known irony that, when he got older, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He was only able to hear his compositions in his head. On one occasion he even needed to be turned around so he could see the thunderous applause of his audience because he couldn’t hear it.
Beethoven may be the first and most famous example of the deaf musician, but he certainly isn’t the last. Indeed, a far more recent generation of rock musicians, all known for cranking their speakers (and performances) up to 11–have begun to go public with their personal hearing loss experiences.
From Neil Diamond to Eric Clapton to will.i.am, the stories all sound remarkably similar. Being a musician means spending almost every day stuck between blaring speakers and deafening crowds. The trauma which the ears experience on a daily basis eventually leads to significant damage: tinnitus and hearing loss.
Not a Musician? Still a Problem
You may think that because you aren’t personally a rock star or a musician, this might not apply to you. You don’t have millions of adoring fans screaming for you (usually). And you don’t have huge amplifiers behind you every day.
But you do have a set of earbuds and your chosen playlist. And that can be a serious problem. It’s become effortless for every single one of us to experience music like rock stars do, way too loud.
The ease with which you can expose yourself to harmful and constant sounds make this once cliche complaint into a considerable cause for concern.
So When You’re Listening to Music, How Can You Protect Your Ears?
So, the first step is that we admit there’s an issue (that’s usually the first step, but it’s particularly true in this case). People are putting their hearing in danger and need to be made aware of it (especially more impressionable, younger people). But there are other (additional) steps you can take too:
- Wear ear protection: Use earplugs when you go to a concert or any other live music event. Your experience won’t be lessened by using ear plugs. But your ears will be safeguarded from further harm. (By the way, wearing earplugs is what the majority of your favorite musicians are currently doing to safeguard their hearing, so even the cool kids are doing it).
- Control your volume: Some modern smartphones will let you know when you’re exceeding safe limits on volume. If you value your long-term hearing, you should listen to these warnings.
- Get a volume-checking app: You are probably not aware of the actual volume of a rock concert. It can be beneficial to get one of several free apps that will provide you with a volume measurement of your environment. In this way, when hazardous levels are reached you will be aware of it.
In a lot of ways, the math here is quite simple: the more often you put your ears at risk, the more significant your hearing loss later in life could be. Eric Clapton, as an example, has entirely lost his hearing. If he knew, he probably would have started protecting his ears sooner.
The best way to limit your damage, then, is to minimize your exposure. For musicians (and for individuals who happen to work around live music), that can be challenging. Ear protection may offer part of a solution there.
But turning the volume down to reasonable levels is also a smart idea.