Your hearing is your most important instrument if you are a professional musician. So safeguarding their hearing should be a high priority for all musicians. But overall, that’s not the situation. Instead, there’s a pervading culture of fatalism when it comes to hearing in the music business. The prevailing mindset appears to be: “it’s just part of the job”.
But some new legal rulings and a concerted undertaking to confront that culture finally seem to be changing that attitude. Injury to the ears, damage that inescapably results in hearing loss, shouldn’t ever be “part of the job”. When there are established methods to safeguard the hearing, that’s particularly true.
Protecting Your Ears in a Loud Environment
Of course, musicians are not the only people who are exposed to a noisy workplace setting. Nor are they the only class of workers who have formulated a fatalistic perspective to the damage as a consequence of loud noise. But other occupations, such as construction or manufacturing, have been quicker to undertake practical levels of ear protection.
more than likely this is because of a couple of things:
- A manufacturing and construction environment is replete with hazards (hard hat required, as the saying goes). So donning protective equipment is something site foremen, construction workers, and managers are more likely to be accustomed to doing.
- Even if a musician is performing the same music nightly, they need to be capable of hearing quite well. If it seems like it might hinder hearing, there can be some opposition to wearing hearing protection. It should also be mentioned, this resistance is normally due to false information.
- Regardless of how severely you’re treated as an artist, there’s normally a feeling that you’re fortunate and that somebody would be pleased to be in your place. So many musicians simply deal with poor hearing protection.
Sadly, this attitude that “it’s just part of the job” has an influence on others besides just musicians. Others who are working in the music industry, from crew members to bartenders, are implicitly expected to buy into what is essentially a truly harmful mindset.
There are two major reasons that this is changing, thankfully. A landmark case against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. A viola player, during a performance, was subjected to 130dB of noise when she was placed immediately in front of the brass section. That’s roughly comparable to a full-sized jet engine!
Hearing protection needs to always be available when someone is going to be exposed to that much noise. But the viola player suffered with long bouts of tinnitus and general loss of hearing because she wasn’t provided hearing protection.
When the courts found The Royal Opera House negligent and handed down a ruling for the viola player, they sent a message that the music industry would no longer be exempt from workplace hearing protection regulations, and that the industry should not think of itself as an exceptional case and instead commit to appropriate hearing protection for every employee and contractor involved.
Hearing Loss Shouldn’t be a Musician’s Fate
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 tinnitus, hyperacusis, and hearing loss. The more acoustic shock that someone experiences, the higher the likelihood that damage will become permanent.
Utilizing modern hearing protection devices, such as specially designed earplugs and earmuffs, can help protect your ears without compromising the musical abilities of anyone. Your hearing will be safeguarded without inhibiting sound quality.
Transforming The Attitude in The Music Industry
You can take advantage of the right hearing protection right now. At this stage, protecting the hearing of musicians is more about changing the culture within the music and entertainment community. That’s a big undertaking, but it’s one that’s already showing some results. (The industry is getting an eye opener with the decision against The Royal Opera House).
In the industry, tinnitus is very common. But it doesn’t need to be. Hearing loss should never be “part of the job,” regardless of what job you happen to have.
Are you a musician? If you don’t want your performance to be impacted, ask us how to safeguard your ears.