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

Your hearing is your most important instrument if you are a professional musician. So you’d think musicians would be rather protective of their hearing. But overall, that’s not the way it is. In fact, there’s a pervasive culture of fatalism regarding hearing in the industry. They believe that loss of hearing is just “part of the job”.

But various new legal rulings and a concerted effort to confront that culture finally appear to be changing that mindset. It shouldn’t ever be regarded as just “part of the job” to cause hearing loss. When there are proven methods to protect the hearing, that’s especially true.

When You Are in a Loud Surrounding, Safeguard Your Hearing

Professional musicians, of course, are not the only individuals to work in a potentially noisy environment. And many other workers certainly have also developed a fatalistic approach to hearing problems brought on by loud noise. But basic levels of hearing protection have been more quickly adopted by other occupations like construction and manufacturing.

There are probably a few reasons for this:

  • Musicians need to be able to hear rather well when performing, even when they’re playing the same music regularly. If it seems as if it might hamper the ability to hear, there can be some resistance to wearing hearing protection. This resistance is usually based on false information, it should be mentioned.
  • A construction or manufacturing environment is replete with risk (hard hat required, or so the saying goes). So construction workers, site foremen, and managers are likely more accustomed to donning protective equipment.
  • No matter how harshly you’re treated as an artist, there’s always a feeling that you’re fortunate and that someone would be pleased to be in your place. So many musicians simply deal with poor hearing protection.

This “part of the job” culture influences more than just the musicians, regrettably. Others who work in the music industry, from crew members to bartenders, are implicitly expected to buy into what is essentially an extremely harmful mindset.

Changing Norms

There are two reasons that this is changing, thankfully. A landmark legal ruling against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. During a certain concert, a viola player was seated right in front of the brass section and subjected 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 amount of sound, you would be given hearing protection. But that wasn’t the case, and the viola player suffered severe hearing impairment due to that lack of protection, damage that involved long battles with tinnitus.

When the courts found The Royal Opera House negligent and ruled for the viola player, it was a definite message that the music industry would need to take hearing protection regulations seriously, and that the music industry needs to invest in hearing protection for every employee and contractor 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 industry who suffer from tinnitus is staggeringly high. And that’s the reason why there’s a campaign to boost awareness around the world.

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 loss of hearing, tinnitus, and hyperacusis. There is an escalating chance of suffering irreparable injury the more acoustic shock a person withstands.

Deploying modern hearing protection devices, including specially designed earplugs and earmuffs, can help protect your ears without decreasing the musical abilities of anyone. Your ears will be safeguarded without diminishing sound quality.

Transforming The Music Attitude

The right hearing protection equipment is available and ready. At this stage, protecting the hearing of musicians is more about transforming the culture within the music and entertainment community. That’s a huge undertaking, but it’s one that’s already showing some results. (The industry is getting a reality check with the decision against The Royal Opera House).

Tinnitus is exceptionally common in the industry. But it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t make a difference what your job is, loss of hearing shouldn’t ever be “just part of the job”.

Are you a musician? Ask us how to protect your hearing without hurting your performance.