Your ears are your most important instrument if you are a professional musician. So protecting their hearing should be a high priority for every musician. Oddly, that isn’t the situation. Most musicians just accept loss of hearing. They believe hearing loss is just “part of the job”.
But some new legal rulings and a focused effort to challenge that culture finally appear to be changing that attitude. Injury to the ears, damage that inescapably causes loss of hearing, should never be “part of the job”. When there are proven methods to protect the hearing, that’s especially true.
Safeguarding Your Hearing in a Noisy Setting
Professional musicians, of course, are not the only people to work in a potentially loud surrounding. And many other workers certainly have also developed a fatalistic approach to hearing issues brought on by loud noise. But other occupations, like manufacturing and construction, have been quicker to undertake practical levels of hearing protection.
most likely this is because of a couple of things:
- No matter how harshly you’re treated as an artist, there’s always a feeling that you’re lucky and that someone would be glad to be in your place. So some musicians might not want to make waves or complain about poor hearing protection.
- The saying goes “hard hat required”. That’s because the manufacturing and construction environments have a lot of hazards. So donning protective equipment is something site foremen, construction workers, and managers are more likely to be accustomed to doing.
- Musicians need to capable of hearing rather well when performing, even when they’re performing the same material every day. There can be some resistance to hearing protection that seems as though it may affect one’s ability to hear. This resistance is usually rooted in false information, it should be mentioned.
This “part of the job” culture impacts more than just the musicians, sadly. There’s an implicit expectation that others who work in the music industry like roadies and bartenders go along with this harmful mentality.
Norms Are Changing
Fortunately, that’s changing for two major reasons. A landmark case against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. During a particular concert, a viola player was sitting immediately in front of the brass section and subjected to over 130dB of sound. That’s about the sound equivalent of a full-blown jet engine!
In the majority of cases, if you had to be exposed to that amount of noise, you would be provided with hearing protection. But that wasn’t the case, and the viola player suffered extreme hearing impairment because of that lack of protection, damage that included long bouts of tinnitus.
When the courts found The Royal Opera House at fault and handed down a ruling in favor of the viola player, it was a definite signal that the music industry would need to take hearing protection laws seriously, and that the industry should stop thinking of itself as an exceptional circumstance and instead invest in appropriate hearing protection for all employees and contractors involved.
Loss of Hearing Shouldn’t be a Musician’s Fate
In the music business the number of people who are afflicted by tinnitus is staggeringly high. And that’s the reason why there’s a campaign to boost awareness worldwide.
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 hearing loss. The more acoustic shock that someone experiences, the higher the likelihood that injury will become irreparable.
You can be protected without limiting musical capabilities by wearing earplugs that are specially manufactured for musicians or other modern hearing protection devices. You’ll still be capable of hearing what you need to hear, but your ears will be safeguarded.
Changing The Music Culture
The correct hearing protection hardware is ready and available. At this stage, protecting the hearing of musicians is more about changing the mindset within the music and entertainment industry. That’s a big undertaking, but it’s one that’s currently showing some success. (The industry is getting an eye opener with the judgment against The Royal Opera House).
Tinnitus is very common in the industry. But it doesn’t need to be. Hearing loss should never be “part of the job,” regardless of what job you happen to have.
Do you play music professionally? Contact us to find out how to safeguard your hearing without missing a beat.