If you’re a professional musician, your ears are your living. So safeguarding their hearing should be a high priority for all musicians. Oddly, that’s not the case. Instead, there’s a pervading culture of fatalism when it comes to hearing in the industry. They believe loss of hearing is just “part of the job”.
But some new legal legislations and a focused effort to confront that culture finally appear to be changing that mindset. Injury to the ears, damage that inevitably leads to hearing loss, should never be “part of the job”. When there are proven methods to protect the hearing, that’s especially true.
Protecting Your Ears in a Loud Setting
Obviously, musicians aren’t the only people who are exposed to a noisy workplace setting. And many other workers certainly have also developed a fatalistic approach to hearing issues caused by loud noise. But other occupations, like manufacturing and construction, have been quicker to embrace practical levels of hearing protection.
more than likely this is because of a couple of things:
- Even if a musician is playing the same music every night, they have to be able to hear very well. If it seems like it might hinder the ability to hear, there can be some opposition to wearing hearing protection. This resistance is usually based on misinformation, it should be mentioned.
- In countless artistic industries, there’s a feeling that you should feel fortunate just to be given a chance, that no matter how roughly you’re treated, there’s someone else who would be excited to take your place. So many musicians simply deal with inadequate hearing protection.
- A manufacturing and construction environment is replete with risk (hard hat required, or so the saying goes). So construction laborers, site foremen, and managers are likely more accustomed to donning protective equipment.
Unfortunately, this mentality that “it’s just part of the job” has an effect on more than just musicians. There’s an implied expectation that other people who are working in the music industry such as crew members and bartenders go along with this unsafe mentality.
There are two big reasons that this is transforming, fortunately. The first is a landmark case against the Royal Opera House in London. During a particular performance, a viola player was sitting immediately in front of the brass section and subjected to over 130dB of sound. That’s roughly comparable to a full-sized jet engine!
In the majority of cases, if you had to be exposed to that much noise, you would be provided with hearing protection. But that wasn’t the situation, and the viola player suffered severe hearing impairment because of that lack of protection, damage that included long battles with 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 clear signal that the music industry would need to take hearing protection regulations seriously, and that the industry should not think of itself as an exceptional circumstance and instead invest in proper hearing protection for every employee and contractor involved.
A Musicians Fate Shouldn’t be Loss of hearing
In the music business the number of people who have tinnitus is staggeringly high. And that’s the reason that around the world there’s a campaign to raise awareness.
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 loss of hearing, tinnitus, and hyperacusis. There is an increasing chance of suffering irreversible damage the more acoustic shock a person withstands.
You can be protected without limiting musical abilities by wearing earplugs that are specifically designed 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.
Transforming The Attitude in The Music Business
You can take advantage of the right hearing protection right now. At this point, protecting the hearing of musicians is more about changing the mindset within the music and entertainment industry. This endeavor, though it’s a difficult one, is one that’s already demonstrating results (the decision against the Royal Opera House has certainly created some urgency for the industry to get in line).
In the industry, tinnitus is very common. But it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t make a difference what your job is, hearing loss shouldn’t ever be “just part of the job”.
Are you a musician? If you don’t want your performance to be impacted, ask us how to protect your ears.