Music fills our hearts and even releases endorphins in our brains that bring us joy. If you are a professional musician or just make music because it is what you love to do, there are serious occupational hazards to being a musician. Noise induced hearing loss is a serious risk for anyone who is constantly exposed to loud noises for an extended amount of time. Attending a loud music event can cause damage to the regular concertgoer if not wearing proper ear protection. With this in mind, just imagine the effects on the ears of your favorite musicians who perform for weeks on end in loud stadiums and auditoriums!
Noise induced hearing loss
Noise induced hearing loss is one of the leading causes of hearing loss in musicians affecting people of all ages. When sound exceeds safe listening levels the tiny hairs in your inner ear can become damaged or destroyed creating permanent hearing damage. Sound is measured in decibels and any sound over 85 can start to damage your hearing. It is not just the level of sound that you are exposed to that can damage your ears but the length of time. The average rock or pop concert is measured at 120 decibels putting musicians in this genre at extremely high risk.
Rock vs. Classical music
It would seem that musicians who play loud amplified electronic music would be at a greater risk for hearing damage vs. musicians whose work is acoustic as in classical music. However this is not always the case.
In fact a National Public Radio story titled, “For Musicians, Hearing Loss is More Common Than One Would Think,” audiologist Marshall Chasin found that classical music can be more damaging than rock n roll and pop. Doctor Chasin attributes this to the amount of time an average classical musician must devote towards their craft.
Dr. Chasin explains: “A rock ‘n’ roller might pick up their guitar on a Friday night gig, and may not even practice or touch their music for another week or two until the next gig. In contrast, a classical musician plays four, five hours a day practicing, they may teach one or two hours a day, and then they have four or five, or maybe seven or eight, different performances every week. So even though the spot intensity might be greater for a rock ‘n’ roll set, if you take the dose that they get — the number of hours per week you’re playing — for a classical musician, it’s much, much greater.”
These findings are attributed to not only the dangerous level of loud music but also the frequency of the exposure and conglomeration of exposure over time.
Hearing protection for musicians
If you are a professional musician or just love making music you will be at risk for exposure to loud noise that can damage your hearing permanently. However if you are aware early on of the risks to your hearing, you can start taking steps now to protect your ears for the future. Most hearing protection are earplugs which can reduce the decibel level anywhere from 15 to 30 decibels depending on the protection. Pay attention to the amount of sound around you. Most smartphones offer apps that can measure the decibel level around you.
If you record a sound level louder than 85 decibels then it is imperative that you are vigilant about using hearing protection. Make sure that you know how to wear your hearing protection properly so you can get the best protection possible. Your future self may thank you for healthy hearing.
Ensuring Your Best Hearing health
Whether or not you are a musician, there’s no reason to live with untreated hearing loss! The effects of hearing loss may be permanent, but they are not untreatable. Hearing aids can amplify the sounds around you making it easier to hear the things you love. Speech is often perceived differently than music and many modern hearing aids offer settings specifically for picking up the nuisances of music.
Contact us to schedule a hearing test. We can help you find the best solution for you on how to live with hearing loss and still hear and make the music that is your profession and your passion.