If you’re a professional musician, your ears are your livelihood. So it seems as if musicians would be rather protective of their hearing. Oddly, that’s not the case. Many musicians just accept hearing loss. They believe loss of hearing is just “part of the job”.
But some new legal rulings and a focused undertaking to confront that culture finally seem to be changing that attitude. It shouldn’t ever be considered just “part of the job” to cause hearing loss. When there are established ways to protect the hearing, that’s especially true.
When You’re in a Loud Surrounding, Safeguard Your Ears
Professional musicians, of course, are not the only individuals to work in a potentially noisy environment. And many other workers certainly have also developed a fatalistic approach to hearing problems brought on by loud noise. But basic levels of hearing protection have been more quickly adopted by other professions like construction and manufacturing.
There are most likely a couple of reasons for this:
- In countless artistic industries, there’s a sense that you should feel lucky just to be given an opportunity, that no matter how harshly you’re treated, there’s somebody who would be willing to be in your position. So many musicians simply deal with poor hearing protection.
- Musicians need to be able to hear rather well when performing, even when they’re performing the same material regularly. If it seems as if it will hamper hearing, there can be some opposition to using hearing protection. It should also be noted, this resistance is commonly due to misinformation.
- A manufacturing and construction 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 mentality that “it’s just part of the job” has an impact on others besides just musicians. Others who work in the music business, from roadies to producers, are implicitly expected to buy into what is essentially an extremely harmful mentality.
Norms Are Changing
There are two major reasons that this is changing, thankfully. A milestone legal ruling against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. While in a certain performance, a viola player was seated immediately in front of the brass section and exposed to over 130dB of noise. That’s roughly comparable to a full-sized jet engine!
In the majority of cases, if you were going to be subjected to that amount of sound, you would be provided with hearing protection. But that wasn’t the situation, and the viola player suffered extreme hearing damage due to that lack of protection, damage that included long bouts of tinnitus.
When the courts found The Royal Opera House at fault and handed down a ruling in favor of the viola player, it was a definite signal that the music industry would have to take hearing protection laws seriously, and that the music industry needs to invest in hearing protection for all contractors and employees and should stop considering itself a special circumstance.
A Musicians Fate Shouldn’t be Loss of hearing
In the music industry the number of individuals 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 loss of hearing. There is an increasing chance of suffering permanent damage the more acoustic shock a person endures.
You can be protected without decreasing musical capabilities by wearing earplugs that are specifically manufactured for musicians or other cutting-edge hearing protection devices. Your hearing will be safeguarded without diminishing the quality of sound.
Changing The Attitude in The Music Industry
You can take advantage of the right hearing protection right now. Changing the mindset in the music business, at this point, is the key to protecting the hearing of musicians. This undertaking, though it’s a difficult one, is one that’s already showing results (The industry is getting a reality check with the judgment against The Royal Opera House).
In the industry, tinnitus is very common. But it doesn’t have to be. Hearing loss shouldn’t ever be “part of the job,” no matter what job you happen to have.
Are you a musician? If you don’t want your performance to be impacted, ask us how to protect your ears.