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

Your ears are your most valuable instrument if you are a professional musician. So you’d think musicians would be rather protective of their hearing. But in general, that’s not the situation. Many musicians just accept hearing loss. They believe that hearing loss is just “part of the job”.

That attitude, however, is starting to be challenged by certain new legal rulings and focused public safety efforts. Damage to the ears, injury that unavoidably leads to hearing loss, should never be “part of the job”. That’s particularly true when there are established methods and means to safeguard your hearing without hampering your performance.

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

Of course, musicians aren’t the only individuals who are exposed to a noisy workplace environment. And many other professionals undoubtedly have also developed a fatalistic perspective to hearing issues brought on by loud noise. But basic levels of hearing protection have been more quickly embraced by other professions like manufacturing and construction.

There are most likely a couple of reasons for this:

  • The saying goes “hard hat required”. That’s because the construction and manufacturing environments have a lot of hazards. So donning protective equipment is something site foremen, construction workers, and managers are more likely to be accustomed to doing.
  • Musicians need to be able to hear rather well when performing, even when they’re performing the same music regularly. If it seems like it might hamper the ability to hear, there can be some opposition to wearing hearing protection. This resistance is typically based on misinformation, it should be noted.
  • Regardless of how severely you’re treated as an artist, there’s always a feeling that you’re lucky and that somebody would be grateful to be in your place. So many musicians might not want to rock the boat or complain about poor hearing protection.

Sadly, this attitude that “it’s just part of the job” has an influence on others besides just musicians. There’s an implicit expectation that others who are working in the music business like crew members and bartenders go along with this harmful mentality.

Changing Norms

There are two big reasons that this is transforming, fortunately. A landmark legal ruling against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. A viola player, during a concert, was exposed to 130dB of sound when she was placed immediately in front of the brass section. That’s roughly equivalent to a full-blown jet engine!

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

When the courts found The Royal Opera House negligent and handed down a ruling for the viola player, they sent a message that the music industry would no longer be immune from workplace hearing protection requirements, and that the industry should not think 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

The number of people in the music industry 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 someone experiences, the higher the probability that damage will become irreparable.

You can be protected without inhibiting musical capabilities by using earplugs that are specifically created for musicians or other modern hearing protection devices. Your hearing will be protected without inhibiting the quality of sound.

Changing The Music Culture

You can get the correct hearing protection right now. Changing the culture in the music industry, at this point, is the key to protecting the hearing of musicians. This endeavor, though it’s a difficult one, is one that’s already showing results (The industry is getting an eye opener with the decision against The Royal Opera House).

Tinnitus is incredibly common in the industry. But it doesn’t need to be. Loss of hearing shouldn’t ever be “part of the job,” regardless of what job you happen to have.

Do you play music professionally? If you don’t want your performance to be impacted, ask us how to safeguard your ears.

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