Should Musicians Wear Hearing Protection?


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

Musicians rock. Their performances 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 expose themselves to loud music frequently, their hearing is at greater risk of being damaged.

As you get older, you’ll still want to be able to enjoy your favorite songs whether you’re a musician or not. The key to having a lengthy successful career, for musicians, is protecting their hearing. For the rest of us, ear protection is the secret to a lifetime of musical fulfillment and enrichment.

Music is surprisingly loud

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

Is music actually that loud? People may not be so quick 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! Your ears can even be harmed by classical music which can reach fairly loud volumes.

A violin, for example, can create sounds in excess of 90 dB. That’s about as noisy as a leaf blower. To put that into context, the European Union regulations dictate that any workplace louder than 85 dB calls for the use of hearing protection.

And your hearing can be seriously damaged over time if you’re working with music every day, particularly if you don’t use ear protection.

Can you safeguard your ears from noise damage?

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

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

  • Take breaks: Your ears are like any other part of your body: they can be overworked and will often benefit from a break. So take frequent breaks from the noise. By doing this, noises won’t overpower and damage your ears. Duration is nearly as important as volume with regard to hearing health. The difference between the perfect amount of stimulation and too much can come down to taking regular breaks.
  • Track your volume: Knowledge is power, right? So being aware of volume levels of noises around you will help you safeguard your hearing. Sometimes, this is as easy as monitoring your volume settings on amps and receivers. But you can also track day-to-day volume levels of external noises using a decibel meter app that you can download on your cellphone. If the meter reads above 85dB regularly, you’ll need to address this.

Wear hearing protection

Of course, the single most beneficial thing you can do to protect your hearing is easy: wearing hearing protection of some kind. Many musicians are unwilling to use ear protection because they’re concerned it will impact the quality of sound they hear, as well as muting the volume. That isn’t always the case, depending on which kind of hearing protection you choose.

  • Ear plugs made primarily for musicians: Most individuals are most likely acquainted with disposable ear plugs. They’re fairly good at blocking a lot of sound though they sometimes don’t fit very well. They’re inexpensive, easy to get, and easy to dispose of. And they aren’t best suited for musicians. But earplugs just for musicians are also available for a little more money. A specialized material and modern engineering are utilized to help these earplugs fit snuggly in the ear and reduce external noise by around 20% while preserving the audio clarity. This solution is perfect for musicians who require a light to moderate amount of protection (and who don’t have a ton of money to invest in earplugs, or are likely to misplace them).
  • Electronic earplugs: The same basic functionality found in non-electronic earplugs can be found in electronic earplugs. The majority of the sound will be blocked by the earplug itself. But the earplug itself will pipe in the sound you hear. For people who work in very loud environments 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 conveys them directly to a device placed inside of your ear (called an in-ear monitor). Most monitors are little speakers that fit tightly and block out most sound while playing sounds you want to hear at less harmful volumes. So you regulate the volume level and can hear sound accurately and clearly. For musicians who electronically amplify their instruments these in-ear-monitors are the ideal answer.

Safeguard your ears, and protect your career

It’s never too late to take steps to safeguard your ears, but it’s definitely a good idea to begin sooner rather than later. With options available at nearly every price point, there are simple ways for everybody to protect their hearing and their future. Keep in mind, hearing protection for a musician is an investment in your career. It’s one way to be certain you’ll be making amazing music for many years (maybe even decades) to come!

Don’t really know where to begin? Give us a call 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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