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

Musicians are awesome! Their performances bring us so much enjoyment. The downside is that music is pretty much always loud, in fact, many people like it better that way. The musicians themselves are at an even greater danger of hearing damage since they are exposed to loud music nearly 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. For musicians, protecting their hearing is the key to an extended and successful career. For the rest of us, ear protection is the key to a lifetime of musical fulfillment and enrichment.

Sometimes it can be surprising how loud music can get

Most people would say that a jet engine is really loud.

Is music really that loud? People may not be so fast to answer that question if you ask them if a violin or acoustic guitar is loud. Imagine their surprise when they discover the reality: that music is indeed loud! Even classical music can reach fairly loud volumes that can easily harm your hearing.

A violin, for instance, can create sounds in excess of 90 dB. That’s around as noisy as a leaf blower. To put that into context, the European Union regulations stipulate that any workplace louder than 85 dB calls for the use of hearing protection.

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

How can you protect your hearing?

Okay, now you’re aware that musicians need to protect their hearing (particularly if they want to keep on rocking out for many years). So how can musicians continue to enjoy their music while also safeguarding their hearing?

Here are a couple of tips:

  • Take breaks: Your ears are like any other part of your body: they can become exhausted and will often benefit from rest. So give yourself “hearing breaks” frequently. This will help prevent your ears from getting overpowered with sound (and damage). Regarding hearing, how long you’re exposed is almost as important as how loud it is. Taking breaks can be the difference between just the right amount of stimulation and too much!
  • Track your volume: Knowledge is power, right? So knowing volume levels of sounds around you will help you safeguard your hearing. Usually, this is as simple as keeping track of your volume settings on amps and receivers. But you can also purchase a decibel meter app for your smartphone to make it easy to track the real-world volume levels your ears are experiencing from day-to-day. If the meter reads above 85dB regularly, you’ll need to address this.

Wear ear protection

Of course, the single most beneficial thing you can do to protect your hearing is simple: wearing hearing protection of some kind. Lots of musicians are worried that hearing protection will mute the sound and impact its overall sound quality. That isn’t always the case, depending on which kind of hearing protection you use.

  • Ear plugs made primarily for musicians: Most individuals are most likely acquainted with disposable ear plugs. They’re fairly good at stopping a lot of sound though they sometimes don’t fit very well. They aren’t difficult to get, aren’t expensive, and can be disposed of easily. And they aren’t ideal for musicians. But earplugs made just for musicians are also available for a little more money. These earplugs use cutting-edge manufacturing tricks (mostly they’re made out of very distinct materials and are designed to conform nicely to the ear) to preserve audio fidelity while reducing the noise you experience by something like 20dB. For musicians who require a moderate level of protection on a budget, this solution is perfect.
  • Electronic earplugs: Electronic earplugs function in basically the same way as high-quality, non-electronic earplugs. The majority of the sound will be blocked by the earplug itself. What you hear will instead be piped in by the earplug itself. For individuals who work in really noisy settings and need better control of the volume, these earplugs are perfect.
  • In-ear monitors: The majority of music is electronic these days, or at least amplified by electronics. An in-ear monitor takes those electronic signals and conveys them directly to a device placed in your ear (called an in-ear monitor). The majority of monitors are little speakers that fit snugly and block out the majority of sound while playing sounds you want to hear at safe volumes. So you regulate the volume level and can hear sound accurately and clearly. In-ear monitors are practical for people who work mainly with electronically amplified instruments.

Protect your career by protecting your hearing

It’s better to begin protecting your hearing early, before any significant harm occurs. Everybody can protect their hearing and future with hearing protection options at all price points. Remember, ear protection for a musician is an investment in your career. It’s one way to be certain you’ll be making amazing music for years (maybe even decades) to come!

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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.