Hearing loss?

Everyday musicians are exposed to loud noises whether we recognize it or not. It’s not uncommon to busk in a busy street with ample traffic, practice for a long duration on high registers and worse of all, performing or attending a loud concert or nightclub. Hearing loss is an issue that cannot be repaired and take its toll at a later age because symptoms are often ignored or not recognized.

Musicians do not only practice but they also listen to music quite frequently, therefore they’re exposed to more music per day than the average person. Hearing damage occurs after 85 decibels (db) and depending on which instrument or music you play will affect the duration of practice you’re allowed to do. Usually the first sign of too much sound exposure is a constant ‘ring’ in your ear when you’re in a quieter environment. Furthermore, too much sound exposure over 85db too frequently will result in a permanent ‘ring’ which is known as tinnitus. Tinnitus may cause a few health issues for patients such as stress, disruption, anxiety and misinterpretation of sounds. Additionally, hearing damage can hamper social activities you do with your daily lives. Obviously it is not always possible to avoid and control loud environments such as music concerts and large crowds; therefore some prevention strategies will be useful.

-       Avoid using headphones when you’re listening to music

-       Ask your friends if they can hear the music through your headphones, if they can then it          is probably too loud.

-       Use earplugs in nightclub venues or loud concerts.

-       Practice you instrument with a mute if possible or play softer.

As a musician it is not ideal to play quiet all the time, as we need to express our musicality through dynamics as well. The best way to counter this situation is to find suitable earplugs for your playing. There are different types of earplugs, the two that are normally used for musicians are foam or custom made earplugs. The problem with the foam one is that it blocks out all the sound and affects the quality of what you hear when you’re practicing. The custom made one is usually too expensive. So what do you do? If you don’t mind spending a few hundred dollars then by all means purchase the custom made earplugs. However, an alternative has been made which also produces similar results to the custom made earplugs and will be very affordable: The Etymotic Research high fidelity earplugs. They come at an affordable price and have the ability to reduce the decibels while preserving the sound quality.

Hearing is un-repairable, fortunately science and technology has created hearing aids to help the hearing impaired but lets hope you won’t need one of those anytime soon!