Is Ear 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. Their performances bring us so much happiness. But music is a lot more powerful when it’s loud, and that can be a hearing risk. The musicians themselves are at an increased danger of hearing damage since they are subjected to loud music just about every day.

As you grow older, you’ll still want to be able to enjoy your favorite music whether you’re a musician or not. For musicians, safeguarding their hearing is the key to an extended and successful career. For the rest of us, ear protection is the key to a lifetime of musical fulfillment and enrichment.

Music is surprisingly loud

If you ask most people if a jet engine is loud, they’ll likely say yes.

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 music is certainly loud! Even classical music can reach relatively high volumes that can easily harm your hearing.

A violin, for example, can produce sounds in excess of 90 dB. That’s about as noisy as a leaf blower. To put that into context, the European Union laws stipulate that any workplace louder than 85 dB will require the use of ear protection.

And if you’re working with music day in and day out, consistent exposure to that sort of volume, especially without ear protection, can seriously damage your hearing over time.

Can you safeguard your ears from noise damage?

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

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

  • Track your volume: Everybody knows the old saying “knowledge is power”. So knowing volume levels of noises around you will help you protect your hearing. Monitoring the volume on amps and PA systems is part of it. But you can also purchase a volume meter app for your cellphone to make it easy to monitor the real-world volume levels your ears are experiencing day in and day out. If the meter detects volumes above 85dB regularly, you’ll have to address this.
  • Take breaks: Like any part of your body, your ears can become exhausted and may need a little break. So give yourself “hearing breaks” regularly. By doing this, noises won’t overwhelm and damage your ears. With regard to hearing, how long you’re exposed is nearly as important as how loud it is. Taking breaks can be the difference between just enough stimulation and too much!

Use hearing protection

Of course, the single most beneficial thing you can do to protect your hearing is easy: using hearing protection of some kind. Many musicians are unwilling to wear hearing protection because they’re worried it will effect the clarity of sound they hear, as well as dampening the volume. But depending on what kind of hearing protection you use, that might not always be true.

  • Ear plugs made mainly for musicians: Disposable earplugs are something that’s likely very well known to most individuals. They’re pretty good at stopping a lot of sound though they sometimes don’t fit very well. They aren’t hard to find, aren’t expensive, and can be disposed of easily. For musicians, they aren’t the best solution. However, by paying a little more, you can buy high-quality earplugs designed chiefly for musicians. A special material and state-of-the-art engineering are utilized to help these earplugs fit snuggly in the ear and reduce external noise by about 20% while preserving the audio clarity. This option is perfect for musicians who need 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 function in pretty much the same way as high-quality, non-electronic earplugs. Most of the sound will be blocked by the earplug itself. What you hear will instead be routed in by the earplug itself. For individuals who work in very noisy settings and need better control of the volume, these earplugs are ideal.
  • In-ear monitors: Electronics are a significant part of modern music. A device, known as an in-ear-monitor, is placed in your ear and sends signals in electronically. 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). 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 career by protecting your ears

It’s better to begin protecting your hearing early, before any significant harm occurs. With options available at just about every price point, there are easy ways for everyone to protect their hearing and their future. Keep in mind, ear protection for a musician is an investment in your career. It’s one way to be certain you’ll be making incredible music for 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.