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 are cool! They bring so much pleasure to our lives with their performances. The drawback is that music is pretty much always loud, in fact, many individuals like it better that way. Since musicians subject themselves to loud music frequently, their hearing is at greater risk of being harmed.

As you grow older, you’ll still want to be capable of enjoying your favorite songs whether you’re a musician or not. For musicians, safeguarding their hearing is the key to a long and successful career. For the rest of us, ear protection is the key to a lifetime of musical enjoyment and enrichment.

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 damaged by classical music which can reach fairly loud volumes.

A violin, for example, can create sounds well over 90 dB. A leaf blower is about this noisy. In Europe, for example, they have laws that require hearing protection for anybody who works in a setting where there is noise above 85 dB.

And if you’re working with music on a daily basis, constant exposure to that sort of volume, especially without ear protection, can severely harm your hearing over time.

How can you protect your hearing?

Okay, musicians who want to maintain their hearing for years to come need to safeguard their hearing. So how can musicians continue to enjoy their music while also preserving their hearing?

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 often benefit from rest. So take frequent breaks from the noise. This will help prevent your ears from getting overpowered with noise (and damage). Regarding hearing, how long you’re exposed is nearly as important as how loud it is. The difference between the ideal amount of stimulation and too much can depend upon taking regular breaks.
  • Track your volume: Everyone remembers the old saying “knowledge is power”. So it makes sense that you should always be aware of what volume of sound you’re exposing your ears to. Keeping track of the volume on amps and PA systems is one factor. But you can also track day-to-day volume levels of environmental noises using a volume meter app that you can download on your cellphone. You will need to make some changes if the meter consistently detects volumes louder than 85 dB.

Use ear protection

Of course, the single most effective thing you can do to protect your ears is simple: wearing hearing protection of some kind. A lot of musicians are worried that hearing protection will mute the sound and impact its overall sound quality. That’s not always true, depending on which kind of ear protection you choose.

  • Ear plugs made specifically for musicians: Disposable earplugs are something that’s most likely very familiar to most people. 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 the best solution. However, by paying a little more, you can buy high-quality earplugs designed specifically for musicians. A special material and state-of-the-art engineering are utilized to help these earplugs fit comfortably in the ear and decrease external noise by about 20% while preserving the audio clarity. For musicians who need a moderate level of protection on a budget, this option is perfect.
  • Electronic earplugs: The same general functionality found in non-electronic earplugs can also be found in electronic earplugs. Most of the sound will be blocked by the earplug itself. But the earplug itself will pipe in the sound you hear. This option is perfect for individuals who work in particularly loud settings, and who are looking for more options when it comes to volume control.
  • In-ear monitors: Most music is electronic these days, or at least amplified by electronics. An in-ear monitor takes those electronic signals and transmits them directly to a device placed inside of your ear (called an in-ear monitor). It’s like a specialized little speaker for your ear, and the majority of monitors can block out sound from the outside world (thanks to a rather tight fit and specialized design). 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 ideal answer.

Protect your hearing, and protect your career

It’s best to begin protecting your hearing early, before any significant damage occurs. Everybody can protect their hearing and future with hearing protection options at all price points. Keep in mind, ear protection for a musician is an investment in your career. It’s one way to ensure you’ll be making amazing music for years (maybe even decades) to come!

Don’t really know where to begin? 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.