When your favorite song comes on the radio, do you find yourself cranking up the volume? You aren’t alone. There’s something intuitive about pumping up the music. And it’s enjoyable. But there’s one thing you should understand: it can also result in some considerable harm.
In the past we weren’t informed about the relationship between music and hearing loss. Volume is the biggest issue(this is based on how many times each day you listen and how intense the volume is). And it’s one of the reasons that many of today’s musicians are changing their tune to save their hearing.
Hearing Loss And Musicians
It’s a rather famous irony that, later in life, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He could only hear his compositions in his head. There’s even one narrative about how the composer was conducting one of his symphonies and had to be turned around when his performance was finished because he couldn’t hear the thundering applause of the crowd.
Beethoven is definitely not the only example of hearing issues in musicians. Indeed, a far more recent generation of rock musicians, all famous for cranking their speakers (and performances) up to 11–are now going public with their personal hearing loss experiences.
From Neil Diamond to Eric Clapton to will.i.am, the stories all sound remarkably similar. Musicians spend a huge amount of time coping with crowd noise and loud speakers. The trauma which the ears experience every day gradually brings about noticeable damage: hearing loss and tinnitus.
Not a Musician? Still an Issue
As a non-rock star (at least when it comes to the profession, everybody knows you’re a rock star in terms of personality), you may have a hard time connecting this to your personal concerns. You don’t have millions of adoring fans screaming for you (usually). And you’re not standing in front of a wall of amplifiers.
But your favorite playlist and a set of earbuds are things you do have. And that’s the concern. Thanks to the advanced features of earbuds, nearly everyone can enjoy life like a musician, inundated by sound and music that are way too loud.
The ease with which you can subject yourself to harmful and constant sounds make this once cliche grievance into a significant cause for worry.
So How Can You Safeguard Your Ears While Listening to Music?
So, the first step is that we admit there’s a problem (that’s usually the first step, but it’s particularly true in this case). People are putting their hearing in peril and need to be made aware of it (particularly more impressionable, younger people). But you also should take some other steps too:
- Manage your volume: If you exceed a safe listening level, your smartphone might alert you. If you value your long-term hearing, you should adhere to these warnings.
- Download a volume-monitoring app: You might not realize just how loud a rock concert or music venue is. Wherever you are, the volume of your environment can be calculated with one of several free apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone. This can help you monitor what’s dangerous and what’s not.
- Wear ear protection: When you go to a rock concert (or any kind of musical show or event), use hearing protection. Your experience won’t be diminished by using ear protection. But your ears will be safeguarded from additional harm. (And don’t think that using hearing protection will make you uncool because it’s what most of your favorite musicians are doing.).
It’s rather straight forward math: the more often you put your ears at risk, the more substantial your hearing loss could be later in life. Eric Clapton, as an example, has entirely lost his hearing. He probably wishes he started wearing earplugs a lot sooner.
The best way to reduce your damage, then, is to minimize your exposure. That can be tough for individuals who work around live music. Ear protection may offer part of a solution there.
But keeping the volume at practical levels is also a smart idea.