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

Your ears are your most important instrument if you are a professional musician. So it seems as if musicians would be quite protective of their hearing. Curiously, that’s not the case. Instead, there’s a pervading culture of fatalism when it comes to hearing in the industry. They believe that hearing loss is just “part of the job”.

But certain new legal legislations and a focused effort to confront that culture finally appear to be transforming that mindset. It should never be considered to be just “part of the job” to cause loss of hearing. That’s especially true when there are established methods and means to safeguard your ears without hindering your performance.

When You Are in a Noisy Surrounding, Protect Your Ears

Professional musicians, obviously, are not the only people to work in a potentially noisy surrounding. Nor are they the only class of professionals who have developed a fatalistic perspective to the injury caused by loud noise. But basic levels of hearing protection have been more rapidly implemented by other occupations like construction and manufacturing.

There are most likely a few reasons for this:

  • No matter how harshly you’re treated as an artist, there’s normally a feeling that you’re lucky and that somebody would be glad to be in your place. So some musicians may not want to rock the boat or complain about inadequate hearing protection.
  • A manufacturing and construction environment is replete with risk (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.
  • Musicians need to capable of hearing rather well when performing, even when they’re performing the same music every day. If it seems as if it will hinder hearing, there can be some resistance to using hearing protection. This resistance is commonly based on false information, it should be noted.

This “part of the job” culture impacts more than just the musicians, sadly. Others who work in the music industry, from roadies to bartenders, are implicitly expected to subscribe to what is fundamentally a very harmful mentality.

Changing Norms

There are two major reasons that this is transforming, thankfully. A landmark case against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. A viola player, during a performance, was exposed to 130dB of noise when she was seated directly in front of the brass section. That’s about the sound equivalent of a full-sized jet engine!

In most cases, if you had to be exposed to that much sound, you would be given hearing protection. But that wasn’t the case, and the viola player experienced severe hearing damage because of that lack of protection, damage that involved long bouts of tinnitus.

When the courts handed down a ruling against the Royal Opera House and handed down a ruling in favor of the viola player, it was a clear message that the music industry would have to take hearing protection regulations seriously, and that the music industry needs to invest in hearing protection for all contractors and employees and should stop considering itself a special case.

Hearing Loss Doesn’t Need to be Unavoidable For Musicians

The number of people in the music business who are afflicted by tinnitus is staggeringly high. And that’s the reason that around the world there’s a campaign to raise awareness.

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 tinnitus, hyperacusis, and loss of hearing. The more acoustic shock that’s experienced, the higher the probability that injury will become permanent.

You can be protected without reducing musical abilities by wearing earplugs that are specifically created for musicians or other cutting-edge hearing protection devices. You’ll still be able to hear what you need to hear, but your ears will be safeguarded.

Transforming The Culture in The Music Business

You can take advantage of the correct hearing protection right now. Changing the culture in the music industry, at this point, is the key to protecting the hearing of musicians. This undertaking, though it’s a big one, is one that’s already demonstrating success (the judgment against the Royal Opera House has definitely provided some urgency for the industry to pay attention to this problem).

In the industry, tinnitus is especially common. But it doesn’t have to be. Hearing loss should never be “part of the job,” regardless of what job you happen to have.

Are you a musician? If you don’t want your performance to be impacted, ask us how to safeguard your ears.