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 songs bring us so much happiness. The downside is that music is pretty much always loud, in fact, many people like it better that way. The musicians themselves are at an increased risk 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. The key to having a long successful career, for musicians, is protecting their hearing. For the rest of us, ear protection is the secret to a lifetime of musical enjoyment and enrichment.

Music is surprisingly loud

Most people would say that a jet engine is really loud.

But what about music? People might not be so quick to answer that question if you ask them if a violin or acoustic guitar is loud. Imagine their surprise when they discover the reality: That can also be loud music! Even classical music can reach relatively loud volumes that can easily harm your hearing.

Sounds higher than 90 dB can be produced by a violin, for example. A leaf blower is around this noisy. In Europe, for instance, they have laws that require ear protection for anyone who works in a work environment where there is noise above 85 dB.

And if you’re working with music day in and day out, constant exposure to that sort of volume, particularly 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 protect their ears. So what can musicians do to protect their ears and still take pleasure in the music they enjoy so much?

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

  • Track your volume: Everyone knows the old saying “knowledge is power”. So knowing volume levels of sounds around you will help you safeguard your hearing. Keeping track of the volume on amps and PA systems is part of it. But you can also monitor day-to-day volume levels of environmental noises using a volume meter app that you can download on your cellphone. If the meter detects volumes above 85dB regularly, you’ll need to do something about this.
  • Take breaks: Like any part of your body, your ears can become fatigued and may need a little break. So give yourself “hearing breaks” frequently. This will help prevent your ears from getting overpowered with noise (and damage). Duration is nearly as relevant as volume with regard to hearing health. Taking breaks can be the difference between just enough stimulation and too much!

Wear hearing protection

Needless to say, the single most beneficial thing you can do to protect your ears is simple: wearing ear protection of some kind. Many musicians are unwilling to wear hearing protection because they’re worried it will effect the quality of sound they hear, as well as dampening the volume. But depending on what type of hearing protection you use, that may not always be true.

  • Ear plugs made mainly for musicians: Most people are likely familiar with disposable ear plugs. They’re fairly good at blocking a lot of sound although they sometimes don’t fit comfortably. They’re not hard to find, don’t cost much, and can be thrown away easily. And they aren’t best suited for musicians. However, by paying a little more, you can purchase high-quality earplugs made specifically for musicians. A special material and state-of-the-art engineering are used to help these earplugs fit snuggly in the ear and reduce external noise by about 20% while preserving the audio fidelity. This solution is perfect for musicians who need a light to moderate level of protection (and who don’t have a ton of money to invest in earplugs, or are likely to misplace them).
  • Electronic earplugs: Electronic earplugs work in pretty much the same way as high-quality, non-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 solution is perfect for individuals who work in particularly noisy environments, and who want more options when it comes to controlling volume.
  • In-ear monitors: Most music is electronic these days, or at least amplified by electronics. An in-ear monitor takes those electronic signals and conveys them directly to a device placed in your ear (called an in-ear monitor). It’s like a special little speaker for your ear, and most monitors can block out sound from the outside environment (thanks to a rather tight fit and specialized design). So you control the volume level and are able to hear sound in an accurate and clear way. In-ear monitors are useful for individuals who work mainly with electronically amplified instruments.

Safeguard your career by protecting your ears

It’s never too late to take steps to safeguard your hearing, but it’s definitely a good idea to begin sooner rather than later. With solutions available at just about every price point, there are simple ways for everyone to safeguard their hearing and their future. Don’t forget that you’re investing in your career by using hearing protection for musicians. By doing so, you will be able to enjoy creating music for as long as you want to.

Contact us 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.