Musicians are facing a dilemma. On one hand, they can create incredible music that has the power to affect us deep down, from moving us to tears, to compelling our body to dance. On another hand, they are putting their own hearing health at risk, potentially changing their perception of music and melody. Various studies have pointed out the dangers of hearing loss among professional musicians. Some indicated that professional musicians are 4 times more likely to suffer hearing loss than non-musicians.
In 2016 Australian rock star Brian Johnson of AC/DC cancelled a tour because he was at risk of complete deafness thanks to years of exposure to loud music and car racing. Hearing loss among musicians isn’t something new. Several musicians, like Eric Clapton, Roger Daltrey, and Huey Lewis, have announced that they have severe hearing loss.
Prolonged exposure to noise above 80dB can damage the delicate hair cells in your ears, responsible for aural signal transference. The worst part is that this damage is permanent. This also means that it is completely avoidable.
What can I do to protect my hearing as a musician?
As a musician, being exposed to noise is part of the job description, but there are indeed some things you can do to protect your hearing. Here are 7 ways:
1. Increase the space between you and the source of noise
You can choose to stay further away from other louder musical instruments and from the speakers.
2. Reduce the loudness of the noise
You can lower the volume on your instruments, especially when you are practising.
3. Use earplugs to control the loudness of the noise
Custom fitted musician earplugs are highly effective for musicians because they don’t distort the sound, and the amount of loudness reduced can be configured beforehand.
4. Reduce the length of time of your exposure
Give your ears a break by reducing your time listening to music, or even alternating between loud sections with quieter sections during practice.
5. Put a barrier/deflector between you and the noise.
Many professional orchestras use transparent screens to block, deflect or redirect the sound away from musicians.
6. Work in a safer environment
Your employers, band managers or venue administrators are responsible for maintaining a safe workplace. If you think your hearing is at risk of getting damaged, you should bring the issues to their attention.
7. Take care of your ears
Get your hearing assessed regularly to monitor any changes in your hearing ability.
Come and visit us at Ivory Hearing. Our caring audiologist can advise you on all aspects of hearing protection and safety practices for musicians.
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