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

Your ears are your most important instrument if you are a professional musician. So it seems as if musicians would be quite protective of their hearing. But generally speaking, that’s not the situation. In fact, there’s a pervading culture of fatalism when it comes to hearing in the industry. The existing mindset appears to be: “it’s just part of the job”.

That mindset, however, is beginning to be challenged by certain new legal rulings and concerted public safety efforts. It should never be regarded as just “part of the job” to cause loss of hearing. That’s particularly true when there are proven methods and means to safeguard your ears without hindering your performance.

Protecting Your Hearing in a Loud Setting

Of course, musicians are not the only people who are subjected to a noisy workplace setting. And some other workers undoubtedly have also developed a fatalistic perspective to hearing problems brought on by loud noise. But basic levels of hearing protection have been more rapidly implemented by other occupations like construction and manufacturing.

There are probably a few reasons for this:

  • Musicians need to be able to hear rather well while performing, even when they’re performing the same music regularly. There can be some resistance to hearing protection that seems as though it may affect one’s hearing ability. This resistance is typically based on misinformation, it should be noted.
  • In countless artistic fields, there’s a sense that you should feel lucky just to be given an opportunity, that no matter how harshly you’re treated, there’s somebody who would be willing to take your place. So some musicians may not want to rock the boat or whine about inadequate hearing protection.
  • A manufacturing and construction 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” mindset influences more than just the musicians, sadly. Others who are working in the music industry, from roadies to producers, are implicitly supposed to buy into what is fundamentally a truly harmful mindset.

Changing Norms

There are two major reasons that this is changing, thankfully. A landmark case against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. During a particular performance, a viola player was placed directly in front of the brass section and exposed to over 130dB of sound. That’s about the sound equivalent of a full-sized jet engine!

Hearing protection should always be available when someone is going to be subjected to that volume of sound. But the viola player experienced long periods of tinnitus and overall hearing loss because she wasn’t provided hearing protection.

When the courts ruled against the Royal Opera House and ruled in favor of the viola player, it was a clear message that the music industry would have to take hearing protection regulations seriously, and that the industry should stop thinking of itself as a special situation and instead invest in proper hearing protection for all employees and contractors involved.

Hearing Loss Doesn’t Have to be Inevitable For Musicians

In the music business the number of individuals who are afflicted by tinnitus is staggeringly high. And that’s the reason why there’s a campaign to raise awareness around the world.

Everyone from wedding DJs to classical music performers to rock stars and their roadies are in danger of experiencing “acoustic shock,” a response to very loud noises which includes the onset of tinnitus, hyperacusis, and hearing loss. The more acoustic shock that someone experiences, the higher the chance that damage will become irreversible.

You can be protected without diminishing musical capabilities by using earplugs that are specifically designed for musicians or other cutting-edge hearing protection devices. You’ll still be able to hear what you need to hear, but your ears will be protected.

Changing The Music Culture

You can get the right hearing protection right now. At this stage, safeguarding the hearing of musicians is more about changing the mindset within the music and entertainment industry. This task, though it’s a big one, is one that’s already showing results (the judgment against the Royal Opera House has certainly provided some urgency for the industry to get in line).

Tinnitus is very common in the industry. But this doesn’t have to be how it is. It doesn’t matter what your job is, hearing loss shouldn’t ever be “just part of the job”.

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