McDonald Hearing Services - Grand Rapids, MI

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

If you’re a professional musician, your ears are your livelihood. So protecting their hearing should be a high priority for every musician. But overall, that’s not the case. In fact, there’s a pervading culture of fatalism when it comes to hearing in the industry. They think hearing loss is just “part of the job”.

But various new legal legislations and a concerted undertaking to confront that culture finally appear to be changing that attitude. It should never be considered just “part of the job” to cause hearing loss. That’s especially true when there are established ways and means to protect your ears without hindering your performance.

When You Are in a Noisy Environment, Protect Your Ears

Obviously, musicians aren’t the only people who are exposed to a loud workplace setting. And some other professionals certainly have also developed a fatalistic approach to hearing problems brought on by loud noise. But other occupations, such as manufacturing and construction, have been quicker to undertake basic levels of hearing protection.

There are most likely a few reasons for this:

  • Musicians need to capable of hearing rather well while performing, even when they’re playing the same music regularly. If it seems like it will hinder hearing, there can be some resistance to using hearing protection. This resistance is usually based on false information, it should be mentioned.
  • In countless artistic industries, there’s a feeling that you should feel fortunate just to be given an opportunity, that no matter how harshly you’re treated, there’s someone who would be willing to be in your position. So many musicians simply deal with poor hearing protection.
  • A construction or manufacturing environment is replete with hazards (hard hat required, as the saying goes). So construction workers, site foremen, and managers are likely more accustomed to donning protective equipment.

This “part of the job” culture impacts more than just the musicians, sadly. Others who are working in the music industry, from crew members to producers, are implicitly supposed to buy into what is ultimately a very harmful mentality.

Changing Norms

There are two reasons that this is changing, thankfully. A landmark case against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. While in a certain concert, a viola player was sitting immediately in front of the brass section and exposed to over 130dB of sound. That’s about the sound equivalent of a full-blown jet engine!

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

When the courts handed down a ruling against the Royal Opera House and ruled in favor of the viola player, they sent a message that the music industry was no longer exempt from workplace hearing protection guidelines, and that the music industry needs to invest in hearing protection for all contractors and employees and should not think of itself a special case.

Loss of Hearing Shouldn’t be a Musician’s Fate

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

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 increasing chance of suffering irreversible damage the more acoustic shock a person withstands.

Utilizing modern hearing protection devices, including specially manufactured earplugs and earmuffs, can help protect your ears without decreasing the musical capabilities of anyone. Your hearing will be protected without diminishing sound quality.

Transforming The Attitude in The Music Business

The ideal hearing protection equipment is available and ready. At this stage, safeguarding the hearing of musicians is more about changing the culture within the music and entertainment community. This endeavor, though it’s a difficult one, is one that’s already demonstrating results (The industry is getting an eye opener with the judgment against The Royal Opera House).

In the industry, tinnitus is extremely common. But this doesn’t have to be how it is. It doesn’t make a difference what your job is, loss of hearing shouldn’t ever be “just part of the job”.

Do you play music professionally? Contact us to find out how to safeguard your hearing without missing a beat.