Loss of Hearing Isn’t a Given For Musicians

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

If you’re a professional musician, your ears are your living. So you’d think musicians would be fairly protective of their ears. But overall, that’s not the situation. Instead, there’s a pervading culture of fatalism regarding hearing in the music business. They believe hearing loss is just “part of the job”.

That mindset, however, is starting to be challenged by various new legal rulings and concerted public safety campaigns. It shouldn’t ever be considered to be just “part of the job” to cause hearing loss. When there are proven methods to safeguard the hearing, that’s particularly true.

When You’re in a Noisy Surrounding, Protect Your Hearing

Of course, musicians are not the only people who are subjected to a loud workplace environment. And some other professionals undoubtedly have also developed a fatalistic perspective to hearing issues brought on by loud noise. But other occupations, such as manufacturing and construction, have been quicker to embrace basic levels of ear protection.

more than likely this is because of a couple of things:

  • However severely you’re treated as an artist, there’s normally a feeling that you’re lucky and that someone would be pleased to be in your place. So some musicians might not want to rock the boat or complain about poor hearing protection.
  • The saying goes “hard hat required”. That’s because the manufacturing and construction environments have a lot of hazards. 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 nightly, they have to be able to hear very well. If it seems as if it might impede hearing, there can be some opposition to using hearing protection. It should also be mentioned, this resistance is commonly due to false information.

This “part of the job” mindset impacts more than just the musicians, sadly. Others who are working in the music business, from crew members to bartenders, are implicitly supposed to buy into what is fundamentally a very damaging mindset.

Norms Are Changing

Thankfully, that’s changing for two significant reasons. The first is a milestone case against the Royal Opera House in London. While in a certain concert, a viola player was placed immediately in front of the brass section and exposed to over 130dB of sound. That’s about the sound equivalent of a full-blown jet engine!

In most cases, if you were going to be subjected to that much noise, you would be given hearing protection. But the viola player experienced long bouts of tinnitus and overall hearing loss because she wasn’t provided hearing protection.

When the courts found The Royal Opera House negligent and handed down a ruling in favor of the viola player, it was a very clear message that the music industry would need to take hearing protection laws seriously, and that the industry should stop thinking of itself as a special case and instead commit to appropriate hearing protection for every employee and contractor involved.

Loss of Hearing Shouldn’t be a Musician’s Fate

The number of individuals in the music business who have tinnitus is mindblowingly high. And that’s the reason that around the world there’s a campaign to raise awareness.

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 tinnitus, hyperacusis, and loss of hearing. There is an escalating chance of having permanent injury the more acoustic shock a person endures.

You can be protected without reducing musical capabilities by using earplugs that are specifically manufactured for musicians or other cutting-edge hearing protection devices. Your hearing will be protected without diminishing the quality of sound.

Transforming The Music Attitude

The right hearing protection equipment is ready and available. At this point, safeguarding the hearing of musicians is more about transforming the culture within the music and entertainment industry. This endeavor, though it’s a difficult one, is one that’s already showing success (The industry is getting an eye opener with the decision against The Royal Opera House).

Tinnitus is very common in the industry. But this doesn’t have to be the way it is. It doesn’t make a difference what your job is, hearing loss should never be “just part of the job”.

Do you play music professionally? If you don’t want to miss a beat, ask us how to safeguard your ears.