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

Musicians rock. Their performances bring us so much happiness. The drawback is that music is pretty much always loud, in fact, many people like it better that way. Since musicians subject themselves to loud music frequently, their hearing is at greater risk of being damaged.

As you get older, you’ll still want to be able to enjoy your favorite songs whether you’re a musician or not. The key to having an extended successful career, for musicians, is protecting their ears. For the rest of us, hearing protection is the key to a lifetime of musical fulfillment and enrichment.

Music is surprisingly loud

If you ask the majority of individuals if a jet engine is loud, they’ll likely say yes.

Is music actually that loud? People may not be so fast to answer that question if you ask them if a violin or acoustic guitar is loud. Imagine their surprise when they discover the reality: That can also be very loud music! Even classical music can get to fairly loud volumes that can easily damage your hearing.

Sounds louder than 90 dB can be produced by a violin, for example. That’s around as noisy as a leaf blower. In Europe, for instance, they have laws that require ear protection for anyone who works in a setting where there is noise louder than 85 dB.

And your hearing can be seriously damaged over time if you’re working with music every day, particularly if you don’t use hearing protection.

Can you safeguard your ears from noise damage?

Okay, now you know that musicians need to safeguard their hearing (particularly if they want to go on rocking out for years to come). So what can musicians do to safeguard their hearing and still enjoy the music they love so much?

Well, here are a couple of simple things musicians can do:

  • Take breaks: Your ears are like any other part of your body: they can be overworked and will often benefit from a break. So give yourself “hearing breaks” regularly. This will help prevent your ears from getting overpowered with sound (and damage). With regard to hearing, how long you’re exposed is nearly as important as how high the volume is. Taking breaks can be the difference between just the right amount of stimulation and too much!
  • Track your volume: Knowledge is power, right? So it follows that you should always be aware of what volume of sound you’re subjecting your ears to. Sometimes, this is as simple as keeping track of your volume settings on amps and receivers. But you can also track day-to-day volume levels of environmental noises using a volume meter app that you can download on your cellphone. If the meter detects volumes above 85dB consistently, you’ll want to address this.

Ear protection is important

Of course, the single most beneficial thing you can do to safeguard your hearing is easy: wearing hearing protection of some kind. Many musicians are hesitant to wear hearing protection because they’re concerned it will effect the clarity of sound they hear, as well as muting the volume. But depending on what type of hearing protection you use, that may not always be true.

  • Ear plugs made specifically for musicians: Most individuals are likely familiar with disposable ear plugs. They don’t always fit perfectly, but they do reliably block a lot of sound. They’re not hard to get, don’t cost much, and can be disposed of easily. And they aren’t ideal for musicians. But earplugs just for musicians are also available for a little more money. A special material and modern engineering are utilized to help these earplugs fit comfortably in the ear and decrease external noise by around 20% while maintaining the audio clarity. This solution is perfect for musicians who need a light to moderate level of protection (and who don’t have a lot of money to invest in earplugs, or are likely to misplace them).
  • Electronic earplugs: The same general functionality found in non-electronic earplugs can be found in electronic earplugs. The earplug itself will block most of the sound. But the earplug itself will send in the sound you hear. This option is perfect for individuals who work in particularly noisy settings, and who are looking for more options in terms of volume control.
  • In-ear monitors: Most music is electronic nowadays, or at least amplified by electronics. 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 environment (thanks to a fairly tight fit and specialized design). So you regulate the volume level and can hear sound in an accurate and clear way. For musicians who electronically amplify their instruments these in-ear-monitors are the ideal answer.

Protect your ears, and protect your career

It’s never too late to take steps to protect your ears, but it’s definitely a good idea to start sooner rather than later. With options available at just about every price point, there are simple 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 making music for as long as you want to.

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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.