If you’re a professional musician, your hearing is your living. So protecting their ears should be a high priority for every musician. Oddly, that isn’t the situation. In fact, there’s a pervasive culture of fatalism regarding hearing in the industry. The existing mindset appears to be: “it’s just part of the job”.
That mindset, however, is starting to be challenged by some new legal legislations and focused public safety efforts. It should never be considered to be just “part of the job” to cause loss of hearing. That’s especially true when there are proven ways and means to safeguard your hearing without hampering your performance.
Safeguarding Your Hearing in a Noisy Setting
Of course, musicians aren’t the only individuals who are exposed to a noisy workplace setting. Nor are they the only group of workers who have developed a fatalistic approach to the injury as a consequence of loud noise. But other professions, like construction or manufacturing, have been quicker to undertake practical levels of ear protection.
most likely this has a couple of reasons:
- Even if a musician is performing the same material every night, they need to be able to hear very well. There can be some reluctance to hearing protection that seems as if it may affect one’s ability to hear. It should also be noted, this resistance is commonly due to false information.
- The saying goes “hard hat required”. That’s because the construction and manufacturing environments have many hazards. So donning protective equipment is something site foremen, construction workers, and managers are more likely to be accustomed to doing.
- In many artistic industries, there’s a feeling that you should feel lucky just to be given a chance, that no matter how harshly you’re treated, there’s somebody who would be excited to take your place. So some musicians may not want to make waves or whine about poor hearing protection.
This “part of the job” culture influences more than just the musicians, regrettably. There’s an implicit expectation that others who are working in the music business such as roadies and security go along with this harmful mindset.
There are two reasons that this is changing, fortunately. A landmark case against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. A viola player, during a concert, was subjected to 130dB of sound when she was seated immediately in front of the brass section. That’s roughly comparable to a full-sized jet engine!
Hearing protection should always be provided when someone is going to be subjected to that volume of sound. But that wasn’t the situation, and the viola player experienced serious hearing impairment due to that lack of protection, damage that included long bouts of tinnitus.
When the courts handed down a ruling against the Royal Opera House and handed down a ruling for the viola player, they delivered a message that the music industry would no longer be immune from workplace hearing protection requirements, and that the industry should not think of itself as an exceptional case and instead invest in proper hearing protection for every employee and contractor involved.
A Musicians Fate Shouldn’t be Hearing Loss
The number of individuals in the music business 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 hearing loss, tinnitus, and hyperacusis. The more acoustic shock that someone experiences, the higher the probability that damage will become irreparable.
You can be protected without reducing musical capabilities by wearing earplugs that are specially designed for musicians or other cutting-edge hearing protection devices. You’ll still be able to hear what you need to hear, but your ears will be safeguarded.
Transforming The Attitude in The Music Business
You can get the ideal hearing protection right now. At this stage, protecting the hearing of musicians is more about transforming the mindset within the music and entertainment community. This task, though it’s a difficult one, is one that’s already showing results (the decision against the Royal Opera House has definitely created some urgency for the industry to get in line).
In the industry, tinnitus is extremely common. But it doesn’t need to be. It doesn’t matter what your job is, loss of hearing should never be “just part of the job”.
Are you a musician? If you don’t want your performance to be impacted, ask us how to safeguard your ears.