Musician on stage performing with hearing protection to protect against tinnitus and hearing loss.

If you’re a professional musician, your hearing is your living. So it seems as if musicians would be rather protective of their hearing. Oddly, that isn’t the case. Instead, there’s a pervading culture of fatalism when it comes to hearing in the industry. The predominant mindset seems to be: “it’s just part of the job”.

But various new legal legislations and a focused effort to confront that culture finally appear to be changing that mindset. It should never be regarded as just “part of the job” to cause hearing loss. When there are established methods to protect the ears, that’s particularly true.

When You’re in a Noisy Environment, Safeguard Your Hearing

Of course, musicians are not the only individuals who are exposed to a loud workplace environment. Nor are they the only group of professionals who have formulated a fatalistic perspective to the damage as a consequence of loud noise. But basic levels of hearing protection have been more quickly embraced by other professions such as manufacturing and construction.

Probably this is because of a couple of things:

  • However severely you’re treated as an artist, there’s usually a feeling that you’re lucky and that someone would be pleased to be in your place. So some musicians may not want to rock the boat or whine about poor hearing protection.
  • A construction or manufacturing 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 playing the same music night after night, they need to be capable of hearing quite well. If it seems as if it might hamper the ability to hear, there can be some opposition to using hearing protection. It should also be noted, this resistance is commonly due to false information.

This “part of the job” culture influences more than just the musicians, sadly. There’s an implied expectation that others who work in the music industry like roadies and security go along with this harmful mindset.

Norms Are Changing

There are two reasons that this is changing, fortunately. The first is a milestone legal ruling against the Royal Opera House in London. While in a particular concert, a viola player was seated directly in front of the brass section and exposed to over 130dB of noise. That’s roughly comparable to a full-blown jet engine!

Hearing protection needs to always be available when someone is going to be exposed to that volume of sound. But that wasn’t the case, and the viola player suffered extreme hearing impairment due to that lack of protection, damage that involved long bouts of tinnitus.

When the courts found The Royal Opera House negligent and handed down a ruling for the viola player, it was a clear signal that the music industry would have to take hearing protection regulations seriously, and that the music industry should commit to hearing protection for all contractors and employees and should stop considering itself a special circumstance.

Hearing Loss Doesn’t Have to be Inevitable For Musicians

In the music industry the number of individuals who have tinnitus is mindblowingly high. And that’s the reason why there’s a campaign to boost awareness worldwide.

Everyone from rock star and their roadies to wedding Dj’s to classical musicians are in danger of experiencing “acoustic shock,” a response to very loud noises which includes the onset of loss of hearing, tinnitus, and hyperacusis. The more acoustic shock that someone experiences, the higher the chance that damage will become irreparable.

You can be protected without limiting musical abilities by wearing earplugs that are specially created for musicians or other cutting-edge hearing protection devices. Your ears will be safeguarded without inhibiting the quality of sound.

Changing The Attitude in The Music Business

The right hearing protection equipment is ready and available. Changing the mindset in the music business, at this point, is the key to protecting the hearing of musicians. That’s a big undertaking, but it’s one that’s currently showing some success. (The industry is getting an eye opener with the judgment against The Royal Opera House).

Tinnitus is exceptionally common in the industry. But this doesn’t have to be the way it is. Loss of hearing shouldn’t ever be “part of the job,” regardless of what job you happen to have.

Are you a musician? Contact us to find out how to safeguard your hearing without hurting your performance.