Musician on stage performing with hearing protection to protect against tinnitus and hearing loss.

Your hearing is your most valuable instrument if you are a professional musician. So you’d think musicians would be fairly protective of their hearing. Strangely, that isn’t the situation. In fact, there’s a pervasive culture of fatalism when it comes to hearing in the music business. They believe hearing loss is just “part of the job”.

That attitude, however, is starting to be challenged by some new legal rulings and focused public safety campaigns. It should never be considered to be just “part of the job” to cause hearing loss. When there are proven ways to protect the hearing, that’s particularly true.

When You’re in a Noisy Surrounding, Protect Your Ears

Professional musicians, obviously, are not the only people to work in a potentially noisy environment. Nor are they the only class of professionals who have formulated a fatalistic approach to the damage as a consequence of loud noise. But practical levels of hearing protection have been more quickly embraced by other professions such as manufacturing and construction.

Probably this has a couple of reasons:

  • In countless artistic fields, there’s a feeling that you should feel lucky just to have an opportunity, that no matter how harshly you’re treated, there’s somebody who would be happy to take your place. So some musicians may not want to make waves or whine about poor hearing protection.
  • A construction or manufacturing environment is replete with hazards (hard hat required, as the saying goes). So construction workers, site foremen, and managers are likely more accustomed to donning protective equipment.
  • Musicians need to be able to hear rather well while performing, even when they’re playing the same music regularly. If it seems like it might hinder hearing, there can be some resistance to using hearing protection. This resistance is typically rooted in false information, it should be mentioned.

Regrettably, this outlook that “it’s just part of the job” has an influence on more than just musicians. There’s an implied expectation that others who work in the music business such as roadies and security go along with this harmful mindset.

Changing Norms

There are two big reasons that this is transforming, thankfully. The first is a milestone case against the Royal Opera House in London. A viola player, during a performance, was exposed to 130dB of noise when she was seated directly in front of the brass section. That’s about the sound equivalent of a full-sized jet engine!

In the majority of cases, if you were going to be subjected to that much noise, you would be provided with hearing protection. But that wasn’t the case, and the viola player experienced extreme hearing impairment because of that lack of protection, damage that included long bouts of tinnitus.

When the courts found The Royal Opera House at fault and ruled for 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 stop thinking 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 Hearing Loss

In the music business the number of those who have tinnitus is staggeringly 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. The more acoustic shock that’s experienced, the higher the chance that damage will become irreparable.

Using contemporary hearing protection devices, such as specially designed earplugs and earmuffs, can help protect your ears without decreasing the musical capabilities of anybody. You’ll still be able to hear what you need to hear, but your ears will be safeguarded.

Transforming The Culture in The Music Business

You can take advantage of the ideal hearing protection right now. At this point, protecting the hearing of musicians is more about transforming the mindset within the music and entertainment industry. That’s a big task, but it’s one that’s currently showing some success. (The industry is getting a reality check with the decision against The Royal Opera House).

Tinnitus is extremely common in the industry. But it doesn’t need to be. Loss of hearing should never 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.

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