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

Musicians rock. Their shows bring us so much enjoyment. But music is a lot more powerful when it’s loud, and that can be a hearing risk. The musicians themselves are at an increased risk of hearing damage since they are subjected to loud music nearly every day.

Whether your livelihood relies on music or not, you’ll still want to be able to hear your favorite songs when you’re pushing 60, 70, or 80. The key to having a lengthy successful career, for musicians, is protecting their hearing. Ear protection is also key to a lifetime of musical enjoyment for everybody.

Oftentimes it can be surprising how loud music can be

If you ask most people if a jet engine is loud, they’ll likely say yes.

Is music actually that loud? If you ask somebody whether an acoustic guitar or a lone violin is loud, they may not answer so quickly. Usually, when they hear the answer, they’re pretty surprised: That can also be loud music! Even classical music can reach relatively loud volumes that can easily damage your hearing.

A violin, for instance, can produce sounds well over 90 dB. A leaf blower is around this loud. In Europe, for instance, they have laws that require ear protection for anybody who works in a work environment where there is noise above 85 dB.

And your hearing can be significantly compromised over time if you’re working with music every day, especially if you don’t wear ear protection.

Can you safeguard your ears from noise damage?

Okay, now you recognize that musicians need to safeguard their hearing (especially if they want to keep on rocking out for years to come). So how can musicians continue to enjoy their music while also preserving their hearing?

Here are a couple of strategies:

  • Track your volume: Knowledge is power, right? So knowing volume levels of sounds around you will help you safeguard your hearing. Usually, this is as easy as monitoring your volume settings on amps and receivers. But you can also monitor day-to-day volume levels of environmental noises using a decibel meter app that you can download on your cellphone. If the meter detects volumes above 85dB consistently, you’ll want to do something about this.
  • Take breaks: Your ears are like any other part of your body: they can be overworked and will often benefit from rest. So take frequent breaks from the noise. In this way, noises won’t overwhelm and damage your ears. Duration is nearly as important as volume with regard to hearing health. Taking breaks can be the difference between just enough stimulation and too much!

Use ear protection

Using ear protection is the number one most effective way to safeguard your hearing. Lots of musicians are concerned that ear protection will muffle the sound and impact its overall sound quality. That isn’t always the case, depending on which type of hearing protection you use.

  • Ear plugs made mainly for musicians: Most people are probably familiar with disposable ear plugs. They’re fairly good at blocking a lot of sound although they sometimes don’t fit very well. They’re not difficult to find, aren’t expensive, and can be thrown away easily. For musicians, they aren’t a great solution. But earplugs just for musicians are also available for a little more money. These earplugs use cutting-edge manufacturing tricks (mostly they’re made out of very distinct materials and are designed to conform nicely to the ear) to preserve audio fidelity while reducing the noise you hear by about 20dB. This solution is perfect for musicians who require a light to moderate level of protection (and who don’t have a lot of money to invest in earplugs, or are likely to misplace them).
  • Electronic earplugs: Electronic earplugs work in pretty much the same way as high-quality, non-electronic earplugs. The majority of the sound will be blocked by the earplug itself. But the earplug itself will pipe in the sound you hear. This option is perfect for people who work in particularly loud environments, and who want more options in terms of controlling volume.
  • In-ear monitors: Most music is electronic now, or at least amplified by electronics. An in-ear monitor takes those electronic signals and sends them directly to a device placed in your ear (called an in-ear monitor). Most monitors are small speakers that fit tightly and block out most sound while playing sounds you want to hear at safe volumes. This means you can hear exactly how you sound, at a volume you control. For musicians who electronically amplify their instruments these in-ear-monitors are the ideal answer.

Protect your hearing, and protect your career

It’s better to begin protecting your hearing early, before any substantial harm occurs. With solutions available at just about every price point, there are easy ways for everyone to safeguard their hearing and their future. Remember that you’re investing in your career by utilizing hearing protection for musicians. By doing so, you will be able to enjoy creating music for as long as you want to.

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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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