If you’re a professional musician, your hearing is your livelihood. So safeguarding their ears should be a high priority for all musicians. Oddly, that’s not the situation. Instead, there’s a pervasive culture of fatalism regarding hearing in the industry. The existing mindset appears to be: “it’s just part of the job”.
But certain new legal legislations and a focused undertaking to confront that culture finally appear to be changing that attitude. Damage to the ears, injury that unavoidably results in hearing loss, should never be “part of the job”. When there are established ways to protect the hearing, that’s especially true.
When You’re in a Noisy Environment, Safeguard Your Ears
Professional musicians, obviously, are not the only people to work in a potentially noisy surrounding. Nor are they the only group of professionals who have formulated a fatalistic perspective to the injury as a consequence of loud noise. But other occupations, like construction or manufacturing, have been faster to adopt practical levels of hearing protection.
There are probably a number of reasons for this:
- Even if a musician is playing the same music night after night, they need to be able to hear quite well. If it seems as if it might impede hearing, there can be some opposition to wearing hearing protection. It should also be noted, this resistance is commonly due to misinformation.
- The saying goes “hard hat required”. That’s because the construction and manufacturing environments have many hazards. So donning protective equipment is something site foremen, construction workers, and managers are more likely to be accustomed to doing.
- In many artistic industries, there’s a sense that you should feel fortunate just to be given a chance, that no matter how harshly you’re treated, there’s someone else who would be willing to take your place. So many musicians may not want to make waves or whine about inadequate hearing protection.
This “part of the job” culture affects more than just the musicians, sadly. There’s an implicit expectation that others who are working in the music business like roadies and producers go along with this unsafe mindset.
Norms Are Changing
There are two big reasons that this is changing, thankfully. A landmark case against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. While in a particular performance, a viola player was seated right in front of the brass section and subjected to over 130dB of sound. That’s roughly equivalent to a full-sized jet engine!
Hearing protection needs to always be provided when someone is going to be subjected to that volume of sound. But that wasn’t the case, and the viola player experienced severe hearing impairment because of that lack of protection, damage that included long bouts of tinnitus.
When the courts found The Royal Opera House negligent and handed down a ruling in favor of the viola player, they delivered a signal that the music industry would no longer be exempt from workplace hearing protection regulations, and that the music industry needs to commit to hearing protection for every employee and contractor and should stop considering itself a special circumstance.
Hearing Loss Shouldn’t be The Fate of a Musician
The number of those in the music business who suffer from tinnitus is mindblowingly high. And that’s why there’s a campaign to boost awareness around the world.
Everyone from wedding DJs to classical music performers to rock stars and their roadies are in danger of experiencing “acoustic shock,” a response to very loud noises which includes the onset of hearing loss, tinnitus, and hyperacusis. The more acoustic shock that someone experiences, the higher the likelihood that injury will become permanent.
Deploying current hearing protection devices, such as specially designed earplugs and earmuffs, can help protect your ears without decreasing the musical abilities of anybody. You’ll still be capable of hearing what you need to hear, but your ears will be protected.
Transforming The Music Attitude
The right hearing protection hardware is available and ready. At this stage, protecting the hearing of musicians is more about changing the mindset within the music and entertainment industry. That’s a huge undertaking, but it’s one that’s already displaying some success. (The industry is getting a reality check with the judgment against The Royal Opera House).
Tinnitus is extremely common in the industry. But it doesn’t need to be. Loss of hearing should never be “part of the job,” regardless of what job you happen to have.
Do you play music professionally? Contact us to find out how to safeguard your hearing without missing a beat.