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

If you’re a professional musician, your hearing is your livelihood. So protecting their hearing should be a high priority for every musician. Strangely, that isn’t the case. Instead, there’s a pervading culture of fatalism when it comes to hearing in the music business. The existing mindset appears to be: “it’s just part of the job”.

That attitude, however, is starting to be challenged by various new legal legislations and concerted public safety campaigns. It shouldn’t ever be regarded as just “part of the job” to cause loss of hearing. When there are established ways to protect the ears, that’s especially true.

When You Are in a Loud Surrounding, Safeguard Your Ears

Professional musicians, of course, are not the only individuals to work in a potentially noisy environment. And many other workers undoubtedly have also developed a fatalistic perspective to hearing issues caused by loud noise. But other professions, like construction or manufacturing, have been quicker to undertake basic levels of hearing protection.

most likely this is because of a couple of things:

  • In countless artistic fields, there’s a feeling that you should feel fortunate just to have a chance, that no matter how harshly you’re treated, there’s someone else who would be excited to take your place. So many musicians just quietly cope with poor hearing protection.
  • Even if a musician is performing the same music every night, they need to be capable of hearing very well. If it seems like it might impede hearing, there can be some resistance to wearing hearing protection. This resistance is commonly based on false information, it should be noted.
  • A manufacturing and construction environment is replete with hazards (hard hat required, or so the saying goes). So construction workers, site foremen, and managers are likely more accustomed to donning protective equipment.

This “part of the job” mindset impacts more than just the musicians, unfortunately. Others who work in the music business, from crew members to producers, are implicitly expected to subscribe to what is ultimately an extremely harmful mindset.

Changing Norms

Thankfully, that’s transforming for two major reasons. A milestone case against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. A viola player, during a performance, was subjected to 130dB of sound when she was seated directly in front of the brass section. That’s about the sound equivalent of a full-blown jet engine!

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

When the courts found The Royal Opera House at fault and handed down a ruling for the viola player, it was a very clear message that the music industry would need to take hearing protection laws seriously, and that the music industry needs to commit to hearing protection for every employee and contractor and should not think of itself a special case.

Hearing Loss Doesn’t Need to be Inevitable For Musicians

In the music industry the number of those who have tinnitus is mindblowingly high. And that’s why there’s a campaign to raise awareness worldwide.

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 hearing loss. There is an escalating chance of suffering permanent damage the more acoustic shock a person sustains.

You can be protected without diminishing musical abilities by wearing earplugs that are specially manufactured 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 Attitude in The Music Industry

The ideal hearing protection equipment is ready and available. Changing the culture in the music industry, at this point, is the key to protecting the hearing of musicians. This endeavor, though it’s a difficult one, is one that’s already showing results (the decision against the Royal Opera House has definitely created some urgency for the industry to pay attention to this problem).

Tinnitus is extremely common in the industry. But it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t make a difference what your job is, loss of hearing 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 protect your ears.