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. But music is a lot more powerful when it’s loud, and that can be a hearing hazard. The musicians themselves are at an even greater risk of hearing damage since they are subjected to loud music just about every day.

Whether your livelihood relies 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. For musicians, preserving their hearing is the key to an extended and successful career. For the rest of us, ear protection is the secret to a lifetime of musical fulfillment and enrichment.

Oftentimes it can be surprising how loud music can be

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

Is music really that loud? 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! Even classical music can get to relatively loud volumes that can easily harm your hearing.

Sounds higher than 90 dB can be produced by a violin, for instance. A leaf blower is about this loud. In Europe, for example, they have laws that require ear protection for anyone who works in a work environment where there is noise louder than 85 dB.

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

How can you safeguard your hearing?

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

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

  • Take breaks: Like any part of your body, your ears can become tired and may need to get a little rest. So give yourself “hearing breaks” frequently. This will help stop your ears from getting overpowered with noise (and damage). Duration is nearly as relevant as volume with regard to hearing health. The difference between the perfect amount of stimulation and too much can come down to taking frequent breaks.
  • Track your volume: Everyone remembers the old saying “knowledge is power”. So it makes sense that you should always be aware of what levels of sound you’re subjecting your ears to. Tracking the volume on amps and PA systems is part of it. But you can also buy a volume meter app for your cellphone to make it convenient to track the real-world volume levels your ears are experiencing day in and day out. You will want to make a few changes if the meter consistently reads louder than 85 dB.

Wear hearing protection

Needless to say, the single most effective thing you can do to protect your hearing is easy: using ear protection of some kind. Many musicians are hesitant to wear hearing protection because they’re concerned it will impact the quality of sound they hear, as well as muting the volume. That isn’t always the case, depending on which kind of ear protection you use.

  • Ear plugs made mainly for musicians: Disposable earplugs are something that’s likely very familiar to most people. They don’t always fit perfectly, but they do reliably block a lot of sound. They’re not difficult to get, aren’t expensive, and can be disposed of easily. For musicians, they aren’t the best solution. But earplugs just for musicians are also available for a little more money. A specialized material and state-of-the-art engineering are used to help these earplugs fit snuggly in the ear and minimize external noise by about 20% while maintaining the audio fidelity. For musicians who require a moderate amount of protection on a budget, this solution is perfect.
  • Electronic earplugs: The same general functionality found in non-electronic earplugs can be found in electronic earplugs. The earplug itself will block out most of the sound. What you hear will instead be piped in by the earplug itself. This option is perfect for those who work in particularly noisy environments, and who are looking for more options in terms of controlling volume.
  • In-ear monitors: Electronics are a major part of modern music. An in-ear monitor takes those electronic signals and conveys them directly to a device placed inside of your ear (called an in-ear monitor). Most monitors are little speakers that fit tightly and block out most sound while playing sounds you want to hear at safe volumes. So you control the volume level and are able to hear sound accurately and clearly. For musicians who electronically amplify their instruments these in-ear-monitors are the ideal solution.

Protect your ears, and protect your career

It’s best to start safeguarding your hearing early, before any significant damage occurs. Everyone can safeguard their hearing and future with hearing protection options for every budget. Remember, ear protection for a musician is an investment in your career. By doing so, you will be able to enjoy making music for as long as you want to.

Don’t quite know where to start? Give us a call today, we can help!

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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