Is Hearing 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 joy to our lives with their performances. But music is so much more powerful when it’s loud, and that can be a hearing hazard. Since musicians expose themselves to loud music on a daily basis, their hearing is at greater risk of being harmed.

Whether your living depends on music or not, you’ll still want to be able to hear your favorite songs when you’re in your later years of life. The key to having a long successful career, for musicians, is protecting their ears. Hearing protection is also key to a lifetime of musical fulfillment for everybody.

Music is surprisingly loud

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

Is music actually that loud? If you ask someone whether an acoustic guitar or a lone violin is noisy, they may not answer right away. Usually, when they hear the answer, they’re pretty surprised: that music is indeed loud! Even classical music can get to fairly loud volumes that can easily damage your hearing.

Sounds higher than 90 dB can be produced by a violin, for example. A leaf blower is about this noisy. To put that into context, the European Union laws dictate that any workplace louder than 85 dB requires the use of hearing protection.

And if you’re working with music on a daily basis, constant exposure to that sort of volume, particularly without ear protection, can seriously damage your hearing over time.

Can you safeguard your ears from noise damage?

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

Here are a couple of strategies:

  • Track your volume: Everybody remembers 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. Keeping track of the volume on amps and PA systems is part of it. But you can also buy a decibel meter app for your cellphone to make it convenient to monitor the real-world volume levels your ears are encountering from day-to-day. You will want to make a few changes if the meter regularly detects volumes above 85 dB.
  • Take breaks: Like any part of your body, your ears can become tired and might need a little break. So give yourself “hearing breaks” frequently. By doing this, noises won’t overpower and damage your ears. Duration is almost as important as volume with regard to hearing health. The difference between the perfect amount of stimulation and too much can come down to taking regular breaks.

hearing protection is important

Using hearing protection is the single most effective way to protect your hearing. Many musicians are hesitant to use ear protection because they’re concerned it will effect the clarity of sound they hear, in addition to muting the volume. But depending on what type of hearing protection you use, that may not always be true.

  • Ear plugs made primarily for musicians: Disposable earplugs are something that’s likely very well known to most people. They’re pretty good at blocking a lot of sound though they sometimes don’t fit comfortably. They’re inexpensive, easy to come by, and easy to dispose of. And they aren’t best suited for musicians. However, by paying a little more, you can purchase high-quality earplugs made chiefly for musicians. These earplugs use cutting-edge manufacturing processes (mostly they’re made out of very specific materials and are designed to conform nicely to the ear) to preserve audio fidelity while decreasing the noise you experience by something like 20dB. This solution is perfect for musicians who need 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: The same basic functionality found in non-electronic earplugs can also be found in electronic earplugs. The earplug itself will block out the majority of the sound. What you hear will instead be routed in by the earplug itself. This option is perfect for individuals who work in particularly noisy environments, and who are looking for more options in terms of volume control.
  • In-ear monitors: Electronics are a significant part of modern music. A device, called an in-ear-monitor, is put in your ear and transmits signals in electronically. It’s like a specialized little speaker for your ear, and most monitors can block out sound from the outside world (thanks to a rather tight fit and specialized design). This means you can hear exactly how you sound, at a volume you control. For musicians who electronically amplify their instruments these in-ear-monitors are the ideal answer.

Safeguard your hearing, and protect your career

It’s best to begin safeguarding your hearing early, before any significant damage occurs. With solutions available at nearly every price point, there are easy ways for everybody to safeguard their hearing and their future. Keep in mind, hearing protection for a musician is an investment in your career. It’s one way to ensure you’ll be making amazing music for years (maybe even decades) to come!

Give us a call so we can help you get started.

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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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