Do you crank the volume up when your favorite song comes on the radio? You aren’t on your own. When you pump up the music, you can feel it in your gut. And it’s something you can really take pleasure in. But, here’s the situation: there can also be significant harm done.
In the past we weren’t conscious of the relationship between hearing loss and music. That has a lot to do with volume (this is based on how many times daily you listen and how intense the volume is). And many musicians are rethinking how they approach coping with the volume of their music.
Musicians And Hearing Loss
It’s a fairly famous irony that, later in life, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He could only hear his compositions 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 is certainly not the only instance of hearing issues in musicians. In fact, a far more recent generation of rock musicians, all famous for turning their speakers (and performances) up to 11–have begun to go public with their personal hearing loss experiences.
From Neil Diamond to Eric Clapton to will.i.am, the stories all sound remarkably similar. Being a musician means spending just about every day stuck between blaring speakers and deafening crowds. Significant damage including tinnitus and hearing loss will ultimately be the result.
Even if You’re Not a Musician This Could Still be an Issue
As a non-rock star (at least when it comes to the profession, we all know you’re a rock star in terms of personality), you could have a difficult time relating this to your own worries. You don’t have millions of adoring fans screaming at you (usually). And you don’t have massive amplifiers behind you daily.
But your favorite playlist and a set of earbuds are things you do have. And that can be a serious problem. Thanks to the advanced features of earbuds, pretty much everyone can experience life like a musician, inundated by sound and music at way too high a volume.
The ease with which you can expose yourself to detrimental and continuous sounds make this once cliche complaint into a substantial cause for alarm.
So When You’re Listening to Music, How Can You Protect Your Hearing?
As with most scenarios admitting that there’s an issue is the first step. People are putting their hearing in danger and have to be made aware of it (especially more impressionable, younger people). But you also need to take some other steps too:
- Get a volume-monitoring app: You are probably unaware of the actual volume of a live concert. Wherever you find yourself, the volume of your environment can be assessed with one of several free apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone. This can help you monitor what’s dangerous and isn’t.
- Use earplugs: When you go to a rock concert (or any sort of musical event or show), wear earplugs. Your experience won’t be diminished by using ear plugs. But your ears will be safeguarded from additional damage. (And don’t think that using hearing protection will make you uncool because it’s what the majority of your favorite musicians are doing.).
- Control your volume: Some modern smartphones will let you know when you’re going beyond safe limits on volume. You should adhere to these warnings if you value your long-term hearing.
It’s fairly simple math: you will have more serious hearing loss later in life the more you put your hearing at risk. Eric Clapton, as an example, has entirely lost his hearing. He likely wishes he started wearing earplugs a little bit sooner.
The best way to minimize your damage, then, is to limit your exposure. That can be tricky for people who work at a concert venue. Ear protection could provide part of an answer there.
But we all would be a lot better off if we just turned down the volume to sensible levels.