Your hearing is your most important instrument if you are a professional musician. So safeguarding their ears should be a high priority for every musician. Curiously, that isn’t the situation. Instead, there’s a pervading culture of fatalism when it comes to hearing in the music business. The prevailing attitude appears to be: “it’s just part of the job”.
But certain new legal rulings and a focused undertaking to challenge that culture finally seem to be changing that attitude. Injury to the ears, injury that inescapably causes loss of hearing, shouldn’t ever be “part of the job”. That’s especially true when there are established methods and means to protect your hearing without hampering your performance.
Safeguarding Your Ears in a Noisy Environment
Professional musicians, obviously, are not the only individuals to work in a potentially noisy surrounding. Nor are they the only class of professionals who have developed a fatalistic perspective to the injury as a consequence of loud noise. But other professions, like manufacturing and construction, have been faster to adopt basic levels of ear protection.
more than likely this has a couple of reasons:
- Even if a musician is performing the same music night after night, they need to be capable of hearing quite well. If it seems as if it will hamper hearing, there can be some opposition to using hearing protection. This resistance is usually rooted in misinformation, it should be mentioned.
- In many artistic industries, there’s a feeling that you should feel lucky just to have a chance, that no matter how roughly you’re treated, there’s somebody who would be happy to take your place. So many musicians just quietly deal with inadequate hearing protection.
- A construction or manufacturing environment is replete with hazards (hard hat required, as the saying goes). So donning protective equipment is something site foremen, construction workers, and managers are more likely to be accustomed to doing.
This “part of the job” mindset impacts more than just the musicians, regrettably. There’s an implicit expectation that other people who work in the music industry such as roadies and bartenders go along with this unsafe mentality.
Thankfully, that’s transforming for two big reasons. The first is a milestone case against the Royal Opera House in London. A viola player, during a concert, was subjected to 130dB of sound when she was placed right in front of the brass section. That’s roughly comparable to a full-sized jet engine!
In most cases, if you had to be exposed to that much noise, you would be provided with hearing protection. But the viola player suffered with long bouts of tinnitus and general hearing loss because she wasn’t provided 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 was no longer 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 circumstance.
A Musicians Fate Shouldn’t be Loss of hearing
The number of those in the music business who are afflicted by tinnitus is mindblowingly high. And that’s the reason why there’s a campaign to boost awareness around the world.
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 hearing loss, tinnitus, and hyperacusis. There is an increasing chance of suffering permanent injury the more acoustic shock a person withstands.
You can be protected without decreasing musical abilities by using earplugs that are specifically created for musicians or other modern hearing protection devices. You’ll still be capable of hearing what you need to hear, but your ears will be protected.
Transforming The Music Culture
You can get the right hearing protection right now. Changing the culture in the music business, at this point, is the key to protecting the hearing of musicians. That’s a huge undertaking, but it’s one that’s already showing some results. (the decision against the Royal Opera House has definitely provided some urgency for the industry to get in line).
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, loss of hearing shouldn’t ever be “just part of the job”.
Do you play music professionally? If you don’t want your performance to be impacted, ask us how to protect your ears.