If you’re a professional musician, your ears are your living. So you’d think musicians would be quite protective of their ears. Strangely, that isn’t the case. Instead, there’s a pervasive culture of fatalism when it comes to hearing in the music business. The predominant mindset seems to be: “it’s just part of the job”.
That attitude, however, is starting to be challenged by certain new legal legislations and concerted public safety efforts. It should never be regarded as just “part of the job” to cause loss of hearing. When there are established methods to protect the hearing, that’s particularly true.
Safeguarding Your Hearing in a Noisy Environment
Professional musicians, obviously, are not the only people to work in a potentially loud surrounding. Nor are they the only group of professionals who have developed a fatalistic perspective to the injury as a consequence of loud noise. But other occupations, such as manufacturing and construction, have been quicker to undertake practical levels of ear protection.
Probably this has a couple of reasons:
- Even if a musician is playing the same material night after night, they have to be capable of hearing quite well. There can be some resistance to hearing protection that seems as if it might impede one’s hearing ability. This resistance is usually based on false information, it should be noted.
- Regardless of how harshly you’re treated as an artist, there’s always a feeling that you’re lucky and that somebody would be glad to be in your position. So many musicians might not want to rock the boat or whine about inadequate hearing protection.
- A construction or manufacturing environment is replete with hazards (hard hat required, or so the saying goes). So construction laborers, site foremen, and managers are likely more accustomed to donning protective equipment.
Regrettably, this mindset that “it’s just part of the job” has an impact on others besides just musicians. Others who work in the music industry, from crew members to producers, are implicitly supposed to buy into what is ultimately a very damaging mentality.
Norms Are Changing
There are two reasons that this is changing, thankfully. The first is a milestone case against the Royal Opera House in London. During a particular performance, a viola player was seated immediately in front of the brass section and subjected to over 130dB of sound. That’s roughly comparable to a full-blown jet engine!
Hearing protection needs to always be provided when someone is going to be exposed to that volume of sound. But the viola player suffered with long periods of tinnitus and overall loss of hearing because she wasn’t given hearing protection.
When the courts handed down a ruling against the Royal Opera House and ruled for the viola player, they sent a message that the music industry would no longer be exempt from workplace hearing protection guidelines, and that the music industry should commit to hearing protection for all contractors and employees and should not think of itself a special case.
Hearing Loss Doesn’t Have to be Unavoidable For Musicians
In the music industry the number of people who suffer from tinnitus is staggeringly high. And that’s the reason that around the world there’s a campaign to raise awareness.
Everyone from wedding DJs to classical music performers to rock stars and their roadies are in danger of experiencing “acoustic shock,” a response to very loud noises which includes the onset of tinnitus, hyperacusis, and hearing loss. There is an escalating chance of suffering permanent damage the more acoustic shock a person withstands.
You can be protected without decreasing musical capabilities by wearing earplugs that are specially designed for musicians or other modern hearing protection devices. Your ears will be safeguarded without diminishing sound quality.
Changing The Music Attitude
You can take advantage of the ideal hearing protection right now. Changing the culture in the music industry, at this point, is the key to protecting the hearing of musicians. That’s a big task, but it’s one that’s already showing some results. (The industry is getting a reality check with the decision against The Royal Opera House).
In the industry, tinnitus is very common. But this doesn’t have to be how it is. It doesn’t matter what your job is, hearing loss shouldn’t ever be “just part of the job”.
Are you a musician? Contact us to find out how to protect your hearing without missing a beat.