If you’re a professional musician, your ears are your livelihood. So safeguarding their hearing should be a high priority for every musician. Strangely, that isn’t the situation. Instead, there’s a pervading culture of fatalism regarding hearing in the industry. The prevailing mindset appears to be: “it’s just part of the job”.
That mindset, however, is beginning to be challenged by some new legal rulings and concerted public safety efforts. It shouldn’t ever be regarded as just “part of the job” to cause loss of hearing. When there are proven ways to protect the hearing, that’s particularly true.
Safeguarding Your Ears in a Loud Setting
Professional musicians, of course, are not the only individuals to work in a potentially loud environment. Nor are they the only group of workers who have developed a fatalistic approach to the damage caused by loud noise. But basic levels of hearing protection have been more quickly implemented by other occupations such as construction and manufacturing.
more than likely this has a couple of reasons:
- The saying goes “hard hat required”. That’s because the manufacturing and construction environments have many hazards. So construction laborers, site foremen, and managers are likely more accustomed to donning protective equipment.
- Even if a musician is playing the same material every night, they need to be capable of hearing quite well. There can be some resistance to hearing protection that seems as though it may affect one’s hearing ability. It should also be noted, this resistance is usually due to misinformation.
- Regardless of how harshly you’re treated as an artist, there’s normally a feeling that you’re fortunate and that somebody would be pleased to be in your place. So many musicians simply deal with poor hearing protection.
This “part of the job” culture impacts more than just the musicians, unfortunately. Others who are working in the music business, from crew members to bartenders, are implicitly supposed to subscribe to what is fundamentally an extremely harmful mentality.
There are two reasons that this is transforming, fortunately. A landmark legal ruling against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. During a certain concert, a viola player was placed directly in front of the brass section and exposed to over 130dB of sound. That’s roughly comparable to a full-sized jet engine!
In most cases, if you had to be exposed to that amount of sound, you would be given hearing protection. But that wasn’t the situation, and the viola player suffered serious hearing impairment due to that lack of protection, damage that involved long battles with tinnitus.
When the courts found The Royal Opera House negligent and handed down a ruling for the viola player, they delivered a signal that the music industry was no longer immune from workplace hearing protection regulations, and that the music industry should commit to hearing protection for all contractors and employees and should stop considering itself a special case.
Hearing Loss Shouldn’t be The Fate of a Musician
The number of individuals in the music industry who suffer from tinnitus is mindblowingly high. And that’s the reason why there’s a campaign to raise awareness worldwide.
Everyone from rock star and their roadies to wedding Dj’s to classical musicians are in danger of experiencing “acoustic shock,” a response to very loud noises which includes the onset of tinnitus, hyperacusis, and loss of hearing. There is an escalating chance of suffering irreversible injury the more acoustic shock a person sustains.
Utilizing contemporary hearing protection devices, including specially designed earplugs and earmuffs, can help protect your ears without compromising the musical capabilities of anyone. Your hearing will be protected without inhibiting sound quality.
Transforming The Music Culture
The right hearing protection equipment is ready and available. Changing the mindset in the music business, at this point, is the key to protecting the hearing of musicians. That’s a huge task, but it’s one that’s already showing some results. (the judgment against the Royal Opera House has certainly provided some urgency for the industry to pay attention to this problem).
In the industry, tinnitus is extremely common. But this doesn’t have to be how it is. Loss of hearing shouldn’t ever be “part of the job,” regardless of what job you happen to have.
Are you a musician? Contact us to find out how to safeguard your hearing without hurting your performance.