Should Musicians Wear Hearing Protection?

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

Musicians are cool! Their songs bring us so much happiness. But music is so much more powerful when it’s loud, and that can be a hearing risk. Since musicians subject themselves to loud music on a daily basis, their hearing is at an increased risk of being harmed.

As you get older, you’ll still want to be able to enjoy your favorite songs whether you’re a musician or not. For musicians, preserving their hearing is the key to an extended and successful career. Ear protection is also key to a lifetime of musical fulfillment for everyone.

Oftentimes it can be surprising how loud music can get

Most people would say that a jet engine is really loud.

But what about music? If you ask somebody whether an acoustic guitar or a lone violin is loud, they may not reply so quickly. Imagine their surprise when they discover the reality: That can also be loud music! Even classical music can reach fairly high volumes that can easily damage your hearing.

Sounds louder than 90 dB can be created by a violin, for instance. That’s around as noisy as a leaf blower. To put that into context, the European Union laws dictate that any workplace louder than 85 dB calls for 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 wear ear protection.

How can you protect your hearing?

Okay, musicians who want to keep their hearing for years to come need to safeguard their hearing. So what can musicians do to safeguard their hearing and still take pleasure in the music they love so much?

Well, here are a couple of simple things musicians can do:

  • 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. Sometimes, this is as easy as tracking 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 need to address this.
  • Take breaks: Your ears are like any other part of your body: they can be overworked and will often benefit from rest. So give yourself “hearing breaks” frequently. In this way, noises won’t overpower and harm your ears. With regard to hearing, how long you’re exposed is nearly as important as how loud it is. The difference between the perfect amount of stimulation and too much can depend upon taking regular breaks.

Ear protection is important

Of course, the single most beneficial thing you can do to safeguard your ears is easy: wearing ear protection of some kind. Many musicians are unwilling to wear ear protection because they’re worried it will impact the quality of sound they hear, as well as muting the volume. But depending on what kind of hearing protection you use, that might not always be accurate.

  • Ear plugs made mainly for musicians: Disposable earplugs are something that’s likely very well known to most individuals. They’re pretty good at stopping a lot of sound although they sometimes don’t fit very well. They aren’t difficult to get, aren’t expensive, and can be disposed of easily. And they aren’t best suited for musicians. However, by paying a little more, you can purchase high-quality earplugs made specifically for musicians. These earplugs use fancy manufacturing tricks (mostly they’re made out of very specific materials and are designed to conform nicely to the ear) to maintain audio fidelity while decreasing the noise you hear by around 20dB. This solution is perfect for musicians who need a light to moderate amount of protection (and who don’t have a lot of money to invest in earplugs, or are likely to lose them).
  • Electronic earplugs: Electronic earplugs function in essentially the same way as high-quality, non-electronic earplugs. The majority of the sound will be blocked by the earplug itself. What you hear will instead be routed in by the earplug itself. For individuals who work in very loud environments and need better control of the volume, these earplugs are ideal.
  • In-ear monitors: Most music is electronic these days, or at least amplified by electronics. 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). It’s like a special little speaker for your ear, and the majority of monitors can block out sound from the outside environment (thanks to a rather tight fit and special design). So you control the volume level and are able to hear sound accurately and clearly. In-ear monitors are practical for individuals who work mainly with electronically amplified instruments.

Safeguard your career by protecting your hearing

It’s never too late to take steps to protect your ears, but it’s definitely a good idea to start sooner rather than later. Everybody can safeguard their hearing and future with ear protection options at all price points. Remember that you’re investing in your career by using hearing protection for musicians. By doing so, you will be able to enjoy creating music for as long as you want to.

Don’t quite know where to start? Contact us today, we can help!

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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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