Do you crank the volume up when your favorite tune comes on the radio? Many people do that. There’s something intuitive about pumping up the jam. And it’s enjoyable. But, here’s the situation: it can also result in some considerable damage.
In the past we weren’t conscious of the relationship between music and hearing loss. That has a lot to do with volume (this is based on how many times each day you listen and how excessive the volume is). And it’s one of the reasons that many of today’s musicians are changing their tune to save their hearing.
Musicians And Hearing Loss
It’s a pretty famous irony that, later in life, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He was only able to hear his compositions internally. There’s even one narrative about how the composer was conducting one of his symphonies and had to be turned around when his performance was finished because he was unable to hear the thundering applause of the crowd.
Beethoven may be the first and most famous example of the deaf musician, but he surely isn’t the last. In more recent times quite a few musicians who are well known for playing at very loud volumes are coming forward with their stories of hearing loss.
From Neil Diamond to Eric Clapton to will.i.am, the stories all sound remarkably similar. Being a musician means spending nearly every day stuck between blaring speakers and roaring crowds. The trauma that the ears experience every day gradually results in noticeable damage: tinnitus and hearing loss.
Even if You’re Not a Musician This Could Still be a Problem
Being someone who isn’t a rock star (at least when it comes to the profession, everyone knows you’re a rock star in terms of personality), you may have a difficult time connecting this to your personal concerns. You’re not performing for huge crowds. And you don’t have massive amplifiers behind you daily.
But you do have a set of earbuds and your favorite playlist. And that can be a serious problem. It’s become effortless for every single one of us to experience music like rock stars do, at way too high a volume.
This one little thing can now become a serious problem.
So When You’re Listening to Music, How Can You Protect Your Hearing?
As with most scenarios admitting that there’s a problem is the first step. People are putting their hearing in jeopardy and have to be made aware of it (especially more impressionable, younger people). But you also should take some further steps too:
- Get a volume-checking app: You are probably unaware of the actual volume of a live concert. Wherever you find yourself, the volume of your environment can be measured with one of several free apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone. This will help you monitor what’s dangerous and isn’t.
- Keep your volume in check: Many modern smartphones will let you know when you’re exceeding healthy limits on volume. If you care about your long-term hearing, you should listen to these warnings.
- Wear ear protection: Use earplugs when you go to a concert or any other live music show. They won’t really lessen your experience. But they will protect your ears from the most severe of the injury. (And don’t think that using hearing protection will make you uncool because it’s what most of your favorite musicians are doing.).
It’s fairly simple math: you will have more extreme hearing loss later on the more you put your hearing at risk. Eric Clapton, for instance, has entirely lost his hearing. He likely wishes he begun wearing earplugs a little bit sooner.
The best way to limit your damage, then, is to reduce your exposure. For musicians (and for individuals who happen to work at music venues), that can be difficult. Ear protection may provide part of an answer there.
But turning the volume down to practical levels is also a smart idea.