Is Ear Protection Recommended for Musicians?

Close up of drummer's hands playing a drum kit. Drums are very loud, the player should be wearing hearing protection.

Musicians rock. They bring so much pleasure to our lives with their songs. The drawback is that music is pretty much always loud, in fact, many people like it better that way. The musicians themselves are at an increased risk of hearing damage since they are subjected to loud music just about every day.

As you get older, you’ll still want to be able to enjoy your favorite songs whether you’re a musician or not. The key to having a long successful career, for musicians, is protecting their ears. Ear protection is also key to a lifetime of musical fulfillment for everyone.

Sometimes it can be surprising how loud music can get

If you ask the majority of individuals if a jet engine is loud, they’ll likely say yes.

But what about music? If you ask somebody whether an acoustic guitar or a lone violin is loud, they might not reply right away. Usually, when they hear the answer, they’re pretty surprised: That can also be loud music! Your ears can even be harmed by classical music which can reach relatively high volumes.

A violin, for example, can produce sounds in excess of 90 dB. A leaf blower is about this loud. To put that into context, the European Union laws dictate that any work environment noisier than 85 dB requires the use of hearing protection.

And if you’re working with music day in and day out, constant exposure to that sort of volume, especially without ear protection, can seriously harm your hearing over time.

Can you protect your ears from noise damage?

Okay, musicians who want to preserve their hearing for years to come need to safeguard their ears. So what can musicians do to safeguard their ears and still enjoy the music they enjoy so much?

Well, here are a couple of simple things musicians can do:

  • Take breaks: Your ears are like any other part of your body: they can become exhausted and will frequently benefit from a break. So give yourself “hearing breaks” regularly. This will help stop your ears from becoming overwhelmed with sound (and damage). Regarding hearing, how long you’re exposed is nearly as important as how loud it is. Taking breaks can be the difference between just enough stimulation and too much!
  • Track your volume: Everyone knows the old saying “knowledge is power”. So it follows that you should always be aware of what levels of sound you’re subjecting your ears to. Usually, this is as simple as tracking your volume settings on amps and receivers. But you can also invest in a decibel meter app for your smartphone to make it convenient to track the real-world volume levels your ears are experiencing from day-to-day. You will want to make a few changes if the meter consistently reads louder than 85 dB.

Ear protection is important

Using ear protection is the single most effective way to safeguard your hearing. Lots of musicians are worried that ear protection will mute the sound and effects its overall sound quality. But depending on what kind of hearing protection you use, that might not always be accurate.

  • Ear plugs made mainly for musicians: Disposable earplugs are something that’s probably very well known to most people. They don’t always fit perfectly, but they do reliably block a lot of sound. They’re inexpensive, easy to come by, and easy to dispose of. For musicians, they aren’t an ideal solution. But earplugs just for musicians are also available at a slightly higher cost. These earplugs use cutting-edge manufacturing methods (mostly they’re made out of very specific materials and are designed to conform nicely to the ear) to preserve audio fidelity while reducing the noise you experience by something like 20dB. This solution is perfect for musicians who require a light to moderate amount of protection (and who don’t have a ton of money to invest in earplugs, or are likely to lose them).
  • Electronic earplugs: Electronic earplugs work in basically the same way as high-quality, non-electronic earplugs. The earplug itself will block the majority of the sound. But the earplug itself will send in the sound you hear. For individuals who work in really loud settings and need better control of the volume, these earplugs are perfect.
  • In-ear monitors: Electronics are a significant part of modern music. A device, called an in-ear-monitor, is placed inside of your ear and passes signals in electronically. The majority of monitors are small speakers that fit tightly and block out the majority of sound while playing sounds you want to hear at safe volumes. This means you can hear exactly how you sound, at a volume you control. In-ear monitors are useful for those who work chiefly with electronically amplified instruments.

Protect your career by protecting your ears

It’s better to start protecting your hearing early, before any significant damage occurs. Everybody can protect their hearing and future with ear protection solutions for every budget. Remember that you’re investing in your career by utilizing hearing protection for musicians. By doing so, you will be able to enjoy creating music for as long as you want to.

Contact us so we can help you get started.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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    Dr. Laura Padham, Audiologist

    Ocean Gate, NJ

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