Is Hearing 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 are cool! Their songs bring us so much enjoyment. The downside is that music is pretty much always loud, in fact, many individuals prefer it that way. The musicians themselves are at an even greater risk of hearing damage since they are exposed to loud music just about every day.

As you get older, you’ll still want to be capable of enjoying your favorite music whether you’re a musician or not. The key to having a lengthy successful career, for musicians, is protecting their hearing. Hearing protection is also key to a lifetime of musical enjoyment for everyone.

Sometimes it can be surprising how loud music can be

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

But what about music? People may not be so fast 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! Your ears can even be harmed by classical music which can reach fairly high volumes.

A violin, for example, can create sounds well over 90 dB. That’s about as loud as a leaf blower. To put that into context, the European Union laws dictate that any work environment noisier than 85 dB requires the use of ear protection.

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

How can you protect your hearing?

Okay, now you recognize that musicians need to protect their hearing (particularly if they want to continue rocking out for years to come). So how can musicians keep enjoying their music while also safeguarding their hearing?

Here are a couple of strategies:

  • Take breaks: Much like any part of your body, your ears can become fatigued and might need to get a little rest. So give yourself “hearing breaks” frequently. In this way, noises won’t overpower and damage your ears. Regarding hearing, how long you’re exposed is almost as significant as how loud it is. Taking breaks can be the difference between just the right amount of stimulation and too much!
  • Track your volume: Everyone remembers the old saying “knowledge is power”. So knowing 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 buy a decibel meter app for your cellphone to make it convenient to monitor the real-world volume levels your ears are encountering from day-to-day. You will want to make some changes if the meter regularly reads louder than 85 dB.

hearing protection is important

Needless to say, the single most effective thing you can do to protect your ears is simple: using hearing protection of some kind. Many musicians are unwilling to wear ear protection because they’re worried it will effect the clarity of sound they hear, as well as dampening the volume. That’s not always true, depending on which kind of hearing protection you use.

  • Ear plugs made specifically for musicians: Most people are probably familiar with disposable ear plugs. They don’t always fit comfortably, but they do reliably block a lot of sound. They’re cheap, easy to get, and easy to dispose of. And they aren’t ideal for musicians. But earplugs made just for musicians are also available at a slightly higher cost. A special material and state-of-the-art engineering are utilized to help these earplugs fit comfortably in the ear and reduce external noise by around 20% while maintaining the audio clarity. This solution is perfect for musicians who require 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: Electronic earplugs work in basically the same way as high-quality, non-electronic earplugs. The earplug itself will block out the majority of the sound. But the earplug itself will pipe in the sound you hear. For people who work in really loud environments and need better control of the volume, these earplugs are perfect.
  • In-ear monitors: Electronics are a major part of modern music. An in-ear monitor takes those electronic signals and sends them directly to a device placed inside of your ear (called an in-ear monitor). It’s like a special little speaker for your ear, and most monitors can block out sound from the outside environment (thanks to a fairly tight fit and specialized design). So you control the volume level and can hear sound in an accurate and clear way. For musicians who electronically amplify their instruments these in-ear-monitors are the perfect solution.

Safeguard your ears, and protect your career

It’s never too late to take measures to protect your hearing, but it’s definitely a good idea to begin sooner rather than later. Everyone can safeguard their hearing and future with hearing protection solutions for every budget. Keep in mind, ear protection for a musician is an investment in your career. It’s one way to make sure you’ll be making incredible music for many years (maybe even decades) to come!

Give us a call so we can help you get started.

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.