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 rock. They bring so much joy 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 subject themselves to loud music frequently, their hearing is at an increased risk of being harmed.

Whether your income depends 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. The key to having an extended successful career, for musicians, is protecting their ears. Ear protection is also key to a lifetime of musical enjoyment for everybody.

Music is surprisingly loud

If you ask the majority of people 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 noisy, they may not answer so quickly. Usually, when they hear the answer, they’re pretty surprised: that music is certainly loud! Your ears can even be harmed by classical music which can reach relatively high volumes.

A violin, for instance, can create sounds well over 90 dB. That’s about as loud as a leaf blower. In Europe, for instance, they have laws that require hearing protection for anyone who works in a work environment where there is noise above 85 dB.

And your hearing can be seriously compromised over time if you’re working with music every day, particularly if you don’t use ear protection.

How can you safeguard your hearing?

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

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

  • Take breaks: Your ears are like any other part of your body: they can be overworked and will frequently benefit from a break. So give yourself “hearing breaks” frequently. This will help prevent your ears from getting overpowered with noise (and damage). With regard to hearing, how long you’re exposed is nearly as important as how high the volume is. The difference between the perfect amount of stimulation and too much can come down to taking frequent breaks.
  • Track your volume: Knowledge is power, right? So knowing volume levels of noises around you will help you protect your hearing. Tracking the volume on amps and PA systems is part of it. 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. If the meter reads above 85dB regularly, you’ll want to address this.

Wear ear protection

Of course, the single most beneficial thing you can do to safeguard your ears is simple: wearing ear protection of some kind. Lots of musicians are concerned that hearing protection will muffle the sound and effects its overall sound quality. But depending on what kind of hearing protection you use, that might not always be accurate.

  • Ear plugs made specifically for musicians: Most people are probably familiar with disposable ear plugs. They’re pretty good at blocking a lot of sound although they sometimes don’t fit very well. They aren’t hard to find, don’t cost much, and can be thrown away easily. For musicians, they aren’t an ideal solution. But earplugs just for musicians are also available at a slightly higher cost. These earplugs use fancy manufacturing methods (mostly they’re made out of very specific materials and are designed to conform nicely to the ear) to preserve audio clarity while decreasing the noise you experience by about 20dB. For musicians who need a moderate level of protection on a budget, this solution is perfect.
  • Electronic earplugs: The same basic functionality found in non-electronic earplugs can be found in electronic earplugs. The earplug itself will block the majority of the sound. What you hear will instead be routed in by the earplug itself. For individuals who work in really loud settings and need better control of the volume, these earplugs are perfect.
  • In-ear monitors: Electronics are a major part of modern music. A device, called an in-ear-monitor, is put inside of your ear and sends signals in electronically. The majority of monitors are small speakers that fit snugly and block out most sound while playing sounds you want to hear at safe volumes. So you control the volume level and can hear sound in an accurate and clear way. In-ear monitors are useful for individuals who work chiefly with electronically amplified instruments.

Safeguard your career by protecting your ears

It’s best to start protecting your hearing early, before any significant damage occurs. With solutions available at nearly every price point, there are easy ways for everybody to safeguard their hearing and their future. Keep in mind, hearing protection for a musician is an investment in your career. It’s one way to make sure you’ll be making incredible music for years (maybe even decades) to come!

Don’t quite know where to begin? Contact us 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.