When your favorite tune comes on the radio, do you find yourself turning the volume up? Lots of people do that. There’s something visceral about pumping up the music. And it’s enjoyable. But, here’s the situation: there can also be considerable damage done.
In the past we weren’t conscious of the relationship between hearing loss and music. Volume is the biggest issue(both in terms of sound intensity and the number of listening sessions in a day). And many musicians are rethinking how they approach coping with the volume of their music.
Hearing Loss And Musicians
It’s a fairly famous irony that, later in life, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He couldn’t hear any of the music he composed (except in his head). On one occasion he even needed to be turned around to see the thunderous applause from his audience because he couldn’t hear it.
Beethoven may be the first and most well-known example of the deaf musician, but he surely isn’t the last. In fact, a far more recent generation of rock musicians, all known for cranking their speakers (and performances) up to 11–have begun to go public with their own hearing loss experiences.
From Eric Clapton to Neil Diamond to will.i.am, the stories all sound remarkably similar. Being a musician means spending just about every day sandwiched between blaring speakers and roaring crowds. Noticeable damage including tinnitus and hearing loss will eventually be the result.
Even if You’re Not a Musician This Could Still be an Issue
You may think that because you’re not personally a rock star or a musician, this might not apply to you. You don’t have millions of cheering fans screaming at you (usually). And you’re not standing near a wall of amplifiers.
But you do have a pair of earbuds and your chosen playlist. And there’s the problem. Thanks to the modern features of earbuds, nearly everyone can enjoy life like a musician, flooded by sound and music at way too high a volume.
The ease with which you can expose yourself to damaging and constant sounds make this one time cliche complaint into a substantial cause for concern.
So How Can You Protect Your Ears When Listening to Music?
So, first we need to admit there’s a problem (that’s kind of always the first step, but it’s particularly true in this case). People are putting their hearing in peril and need to be made aware of it (particularly more impressionable, younger people). But you also need to take some other steps too:
- Use ear protection: Wear earplugs when you attend a concert or any other live music show. They won’t really lessen your experience. But they will protect your ears from the most severe of the injury. (And don’t think that using hearing protection will make you uncool because it’s what the majority of your favorite musicians are doing.).
- Keep your volume under control: If you exceed a safe volume your smartphone might alert you. If you care about your long-term hearing, you should listen to these warnings.
- Download a volume-monitoring app: You might not comprehend just how loud a rock concert or music venue is. It can be beneficial to download one of several free apps that will give you a volume measurement of your environment. This can help you keep track of what’s dangerous and what’s not.
In many ways, the math here is pretty straight forward: you will have more extreme hearing loss later on the more you put your hearing at risk. Eric Clapton, for instance, has completely lost his hearing. If he knew, he probably would have begun protecting his hearing sooner.
Decreasing exposure, then, is the best way to limit damage. That can be challenging for individuals who work at a concert venue. Ear protection could provide part of a solution there.
But all of us would be a little better off if we simply turned the volume down to practical levels.