Should Musicians Use Ear Protection?

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 happiness to our lives with their performances. But music is a lot more powerful when it’s loud, and that can be a hearing hazard. Since musicians expose themselves to loud music on a daily basis, their hearing is at an increased risk of being damaged.

Whether your income relies on music or not, you’ll still want to be able to hear your favorite songs when you’re pushing 60, 70, or 80. The key to having a long successful career, for musicians, is protecting their ears. For the rest of us, hearing protection is the key to a lifetime of musical enjoyment and enrichment.

Music is surprisingly loud

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

But what about music? People may not be so quick to answer that question if you ask them if a violin or acoustic guitar is loud. Usually, when they hear the answer, they’re pretty surprised: That can also be very loud music! Even classical music can get to fairly high volumes that can easily damage your hearing.

A violin, for instance, can create sounds in excess of 90 dB. That’s about as loud as a leaf blower. In Europe, for example, they have laws that require ear protection for anybody who works in a setting where there is noise louder than 85 dB.

And if you’re working with music day in and day out, continuous exposure to that kind of volume, especially without hearing protection, can severely damage your hearing over time.

How can you safeguard your hearing?

Okay, now you know that musicians need to protect their hearing (especially if they want to go on rocking out for years to come). So what can musicians do to safeguard their hearing and still enjoy the music they enjoy so much?

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

  • Take breaks: Much like any part of your body, your ears can become exhausted and may need to get a little rest. So give yourself “hearing breaks” frequently. This will help stop your ears from becoming overwhelmed with sound (and damage). With regard to hearing, how long you’re exposed is almost as significant as how loud it is. Taking breaks can be the difference between just enough stimulation and too much!
  • Track your volume: Knowledge is power, right? So being aware of volume levels of noises around you will help you safeguard your hearing. Usually, this is as easy as tracking your volume settings on amps and receivers. But you can also track day-to-day volume levels of external noises using a volume meter app that you can download on your cellphone. You will want to make some changes if the meter regularly reads above 85 dB.

Use ear protection

Needless to say, the single most beneficial thing you can do to protect your ears is simple: wearing ear protection of some kind. Lots of musicians are worried that hearing protection will mute the sound and impact its overall sound quality. But depending on what kind of hearing protection you use, that may not always be true.

  • Ear plugs made mainly for musicians: Disposable earplugs are something that’s most likely very well known to most individuals. They don’t always fit comfortably, but they do reliably stop a lot of sound. They aren’t hard to get, don’t cost much, and can be thrown away easily. For musicians, they aren’t an ideal solution. But earplugs made just for musicians are also available at a slightly higher cost. These earplugs use fancy manufacturing processes (mostly they’re made out of very specific materials and are designed to conform nicely to the ear) to maintain audio fidelity while diminishing the noise you hear by something like 20dB. This solution is perfect for musicians who need a light to moderate level of protection (and who don’t have a lot of money to invest in earplugs, or are likely to misplace them).
  • Electronic earplugs: The same general functionality found in non-electronic earplugs can be found in electronic earplugs. The earplug itself will block out the majority of the sound. But the earplug itself will pipe in the sound you hear. This solution is perfect for people who work in particularly loud settings, and who want more options in terms of controlling volume.
  • In-ear monitors: Electronics are a major part of modern music. A device, called an in-ear-monitor, is placed in your ear and transmits signals in electronically. The majority of monitors are small speakers that fit snugly and block out the majority of sound while playing sounds you want to hear at safe volumes. This means you can hear exactly how you sound, at a volume you control. For musicians who electronically amplify their instruments these in-ear-monitors are the perfect answer.

Protect your ears, and protect your career

It’s better to start safeguarding your hearing early, before any significant damage occurs. Everybody can safeguard their hearing and future with hearing protection options for every budget. Don’t forget that you’re investing in your career by using hearing protection for musicians. By doing so, you will be able to enjoy creating 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.