Musicians are cool! They bring so much pleasure to our lives with their performances. The downside is that music is almost always loud, in fact, many people prefer it that way. The musicians themselves are at an even greater danger of hearing damage since they are subjected to loud music nearly every day.
As you grow older, you’ll still want to be capable of enjoying your favorite music whether you’re a musician or not. For musicians, safeguarding their hearing is the key to an extended and successful career. For the rest of us, hearing protection is the secret to a lifetime of musical enjoyment and enrichment.
Music is surprisingly loud
If you ask the majority of people if a jet engine is loud, they’ll likely say yes.
Is music really that loud? People might not be so fast to answer that question if you ask them if a violin or acoustic guitar is loud. Usually, when they hear the answer, they’re pretty surprised: that music is certainly loud! Even classical music can reach fairly high volumes that can easily harm your hearing.
Sounds louder than 90 dB can be created by a violin, for instance. A leaf blower is around this noisy. To put that into context, the European Union laws dictate that any workplace louder than 85 dB will require the use of ear protection.
And your hearing can be seriously compromised over time if you’re working with music every day, particularly if you don’t use ear protection.
How can you protect your hearing?
Okay, musicians who want to keep their hearing for years to come need to protect their hearing. So how can musicians keep enjoying their music while also preserving their hearing?
Here are a couple of strategies:
- Take breaks: Much like any part of your body, your ears can become exhausted and might need a little break. So take frequent breaks from the noise. This will help prevent your ears from becoming overpowered with noise (and damage). Duration is almost as important as volume with regard to hearing health. Taking breaks can be the difference between just enough stimulation and too much!
- Track your volume: Knowledge is power, right? So it follows that you should always be aware of what levels of sound you’re subjecting your ears to. Monitoring the volume on amps and PA systems is part of it. But you can also buy a decibel meter app for your smartphone to make it easy to monitor the real-world volume levels your ears are experiencing from day-to-day. You will want to make a few changes if the meter consistently detects volumes above 85 dB.
Wear ear protection
Using ear protection is the number one most effective way to safeguard your hearing. Many musicians are hesitant to wear ear protection because they’re worried it will effect the clarity of sound they hear, as well as dampening the volume. That’s not always true, depending on which kind of hearing protection you choose.
- Ear plugs made primarily for musicians: Disposable earplugs are something that’s probably very well known to most individuals. They’re fairly good at stopping a lot of sound though they sometimes don’t fit comfortably. They’re not hard to get, aren’t expensive, and can be disposed of easily. For musicians, they aren’t a great solution. However, by paying a little more, you can buy high-quality earplugs made specifically for musicians. These earplugs use cutting-edge manufacturing methods (mostly they’re made out of very specific materials and are designed to fit comfortably in the ear) to preserve audio clarity while diminishing the noise you hear by about 20dB. For musicians who need a moderate level of protection on a budget, this solution is perfect.
- Electronic earplugs: The same general functionality found in non-electronic earplugs can be found in electronic earplugs. The earplug itself will block out most of the sound. But the earplug itself will pipe in the sound you hear. For individuals who work in very noisy settings and need better control of the volume, these earplugs are ideal.
- In-ear monitors: Electronics are a significant part of modern music. An in-ear monitor takes those electronic signals and transmits them directly to a device placed inside of your ear (called an in-ear monitor). Most monitors are small speakers that fit snugly and block out the majority of sound while playing sounds you want to hear at less harmful volumes. This means you can hear exactly how you sound, at a volume you control. In-ear monitors are practical for those who work primarily with electronically amplified instruments.
Safeguard your career by protecting your hearing
It’s better to start safeguarding your hearing early, before any significant harm occurs. Everyone can protect their hearing and future with hearing protection solutions for every budget. Remember, hearing protection for a musician is an investment in your career. It’s one way to make sure you’ll be making incredible music for many years (maybe even decades) to come!
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