Do you crank up the volume when your favorite tune comes on the radio? Lots of people do that. When you pump up the music, you can feel it in your gut. And it’s enjoyable. But, here’s the thing: there can also be considerable damage done.
In the past we weren’t aware of the relationship between hearing loss and music. That has a lot to do with volume (this is based on how many times per day you listen and how intense the volume is). And it’s one of the reasons that many of today’s musicians are changing their tune to protect their hearing.
Musicians And Hearing Loss
It’s a pretty famous irony that, when he got older, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He was only able to hear his compositions internally. There’s even one story about how the composer was conducting one of his symphonies and had to be turned around at the end of the performance because he was unable to hear the thundering applause of the audience.
Beethoven is definitely not the only instance of hearing issues in musicians. Indeed, a far more recent generation of rock musicians, all known for turning their speakers (and performances) up to 11–have begun to go public with their own hearing loss experiences.
From Eric Clapton to Neil Diamond to will.i.am, the stories all seem remarkably similar. Musicians spend a huge amount of time coping with crowd noise and loud speakers. The trauma which the ears experience on a daily basis gradually leads to noticeable damage: hearing loss and tinnitus.
Even if You Aren’t a Musician This Could Still be a Problem
You might think that because you’re not personally a rock star or a musician, this might not apply to you. You’re not performing for large crowds. And you don’t have huge amplifiers behind you daily.
But your favorite playlist and a set of earbuds are things you do have. And that can be a serious concern. Thanks to the modern capabilities of earbuds, nearly everyone can experience life like a musician, inundated by sound and music that are way too loud.
The ease with which you can subject yourself to harmful and continuous sounds make this one time cliche grievance into a considerable cause for concern.
So When You’re Listening to Music, How Can You Protect Your Hearing?
As with most situations admitting that there’s a problem is the first step. Raising awareness can help some people (especially younger, more impressionable people) figure out that they’re putting their hearing in jeopardy. But you also should take some further steps too:
- Keep your volume under control: Some modern smartphones will let you know when you’re going beyond safe limits on volume. If you care about your long-term hearing, you should adhere to these warnings.
- Get a volume-checking app: You might not comprehend just how loud a rock concert or music venue is. It can be beneficial to download one of a few free apps that will give you a volume measurement of your environment. In this way, when hazardous levels are reached you will know it.
- Wear earplugs: When you attend a rock concert (or any type of musical event or show), wear hearing protection. Your experience won’t be lessened by using ear plugs. But your ears will be safeguarded from further damage. (Incidentally, 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).
It’s pretty simple math: you will have more significant hearing loss later on the more you put your hearing at risk. Eric Clapton, for instance, has entirely lost his hearing. If he realized this would happen, he probably would have begun protecting his ears sooner.
The best way to reduce your damage, then, is to lessen your exposure. For musicians (and for individuals who happen to work around live music), that can be tricky. Part of the solution is wearing ear protection.
But turning the volume down to sensible levels is also a good idea.