Is Hearing Protection Recommended for Musicians?

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

Musicians are cool! They bring so much joy to our lives with their performances. The drawback is that music is almost always loud, in fact, many people like it better that way. The musicians themselves are at an even greater risk of hearing damage since they are subjected to loud music just about every day.

As you grow older, you’ll still want to be capable of enjoying your favorite music whether you’re a musician or not. For musicians, protecting their hearing is the key to a long and successful career. For the rest of us, hearing protection is the key to a lifetime of musical fulfillment and enrichment.

Oftentimes it can be surprising how loud music can be

Most people would say that a jet engine is really loud.

But what about music? If you ask somebody whether an acoustic guitar or a lone violin is noisy, they may not reply right away. Imagine their surprise when they discover the reality: that music is indeed loud! Your ears can even be harmed by classical music which can get to fairly high volumes.

Sounds louder than 90 dB can be produced by a violin, for example. That’s around as loud as a leaf blower. To put that into context, the European Union regulations dictate that any work environment louder than 85 dB requires the use of hearing protection.

And if you’re working with music day in and day out, constant exposure to that kind of volume, especially without ear protection, can seriously harm your hearing over time.

Can you safeguard your ears from noise damage?

Okay, musicians who want to preserve their hearing for years to come need to safeguard their hearing. So what can musicians do to protect their ears and still take pleasure in the music they love so much?

Here are a couple of strategies:

  • Take breaks: Like any part of your body, your ears can become fatigued and might need to get a little rest. So take regular breaks from the noise. This will help stop your ears from getting overwhelmed with sound (and damage). With regard to hearing, how long you’re exposed is nearly as important as how loud it 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 know what levels of sound you’re subjecting your ears to. Usually, this is as easy as keeping track of your volume settings on amps and receivers. But you can also monitor day-to-day volume levels of external noises using a decibel meter app that you can download on your cellphone. You will need to make some changes if the meter consistently reads above 85 dB.

Ear protection is important

Using hearing protection is the number one most effective way to safeguard your hearing. Many musicians are hesitant to wear hearing protection because they’re concerned it will effect the quality of sound they hear, in addition to muting the volume. But depending on what kind of hearing protection you use, that might not always be true.

  • Ear plugs made specifically for musicians: Disposable earplugs are something that’s most likely very familiar to most people. They don’t always fit comfortably, but they do reliably stop a lot of sound. They’re not hard to find, aren’t expensive, and can be disposed of easily. For musicians, they aren’t the best solution. However, by spending just a little more money, you can purchase high-quality earplugs made specifically for musicians. A specialized material and modern engineering are utilized to help these earplugs fit comfortably in the ear and reduce external noise by around 20% while preserving the audio fidelity. This solution is perfect for musicians who need a light to moderate amount of protection (and who don’t have a ton of money to invest in earplugs, or are likely to lose them).
  • Electronic earplugs: Electronic earplugs work in essentially the same way as high-quality, non-electronic earplugs. The earplug itself will block the majority of the sound. What you hear will instead be piped in by the earplug itself. This solution is perfect for people who work in particularly noisy settings, and who want more options when it comes to controlling volume.
  • In-ear monitors: Electronics are a major part of modern music. An in-ear monitor takes those electronic signals and conveys them directly to a device placed inside of 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 rather tight fit and specialized design). This means you can hear exactly how you sound, at a volume you control. In-ear monitors are useful for individuals who work primarily with electronically amplified instruments.

Safeguard your ears, and protect your career

It’s better to begin protecting your hearing early, before any significant damage occurs. With solutions available at just about every price point, there are easy ways for everybody to protect their hearing and their future. Remember that you’re investing in your career by using hearing protection for musicians. It’s one way to make sure you’ll be making amazing music for years (maybe even decades) to come!

Don’t really know where to begin? Contact us today, we can help!

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.

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