Should Musicians Wear Ear Protection?

Close up of drummer's hands playing a drum kit. Drums are very loud, the player should be wearing hearing protection.

Musicians are cool! They bring so much happiness to our lives with their songs. The downside is that music is almost always loud, in fact, many people prefer it that way. Since musicians expose themselves to loud music frequently, their hearing is at an increased risk of being damaged.

Whether your living relies on music or not, you’ll still want to be able to hear your favorite songs when you’re in your later years of life. The key to having a long successful career, for musicians, is protecting their ears. For the rest of us, ear protection is the secret to a lifetime of musical enjoyment and enrichment.

Music is surprisingly loud

If you ask most individuals whether a jet engine is loud, they’ll likely say yes.

But what about music? People may not be so fast to answer that question if you ask them if a violin or acoustic guitar is loud. Usually, when they hear the answer, they’re pretty surprised: that music is indeed loud! Your ears can even be harmed by classical music which can reach fairly loud volumes.

Sounds higher than 90 dB can be created by a violin, for example. That’s about as loud as a leaf blower. In Europe, for example, they have regulations that require hearing protection for anyone who works in a setting where there is noise louder than 85 dB.

And your hearing can be significantly damaged over time if you’re working with music every day, especially if you don’t wear hearing protection.

Can you safeguard your ears from noise damage?

Okay, musicians who want to maintain their hearing for years to come need to safeguard their hearing. So what can musicians do to safeguard their ears and still enjoy the music they enjoy so much?

Here are a couple of tips:

  • Take breaks: Much like any part of your body, your ears can become tired and may need a little break. So take regular breaks from the noise. This will help stop your ears from getting overpowered with noise (and damage). With regard to hearing, how long you’re exposed is almost as important as how high the volume is. The difference between the ideal amount of stimulation and too much can come down to taking frequent breaks.
  • Track your volume: Everybody knows the old saying “knowledge is power”. So knowing volume levels of noises around you will help you protect your hearing. Keeping track of the volume on amps and PA systems is one factor. But you can also buy a volume meter app for your cellphone to make it easy to monitor the real-world volume levels your ears are encountering from day-to-day. You will need to make some changes if the meter consistently detects volumes louder than 85 dB.

Use ear protection

Of course, the single most effective thing you can do to protect your hearing is easy: wearing hearing protection of some kind. Many musicians are reluctant to use hearing protection because they’re worried it will impact the clarity of sound they hear, as well as dampening the volume. That isn’t always true, depending on which kind of ear protection you choose.

  • Ear plugs made primarily for musicians: Most individuals are most likely acquainted with disposable ear plugs. They’re fairly good at stopping a lot of sound though they sometimes don’t fit comfortably. They’re cheap, easy to get, and easy to throw away. And they aren’t best suited for musicians. But earplugs just for musicians are also available for a little more money. A specialized material and modern engineering are utilized to help these earplugs fit snuggly in the ear and decrease external noise by around 20% while maintaining the audio clarity. For musicians who need a moderate level of protection on a budget, this solution is perfect.
  • Electronic earplugs: The same basic functionality found in non-electronic earplugs can also be found in electronic earplugs. Most of the sound will be blocked by the earplug itself. But the earplug itself will pipe in the sound you hear. This option is perfect for individuals who work in particularly noisy environments, and who are looking for more options in terms of volume control.
  • In-ear monitors: Electronics are a major part of modern music. An in-ear monitor takes those electronic signals and conveys them directly to a device placed in your ear (called an in-ear monitor). It’s like a specialized little speaker for your ear, and most monitors can block out sound from the outside world (thanks to a rather tight fit and special design). So you control the volume level and are able to hear sound accurately and clearly. For musicians who electronically amplify their instruments these in-ear-monitors are the ideal solution.

Safeguard your career by protecting your ears

It’s best to start protecting your hearing early, before any significant harm occurs. With solutions available at nearly every price point, there are easy ways for everybody to safeguard their hearing and their future. Remember, ear protection for a musician is an investment in your career. By doing so, you will be able to enjoy creating music for as long as you want to.

Contact us so we can help you get started.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.