Should Musicians Wear 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 awesome! 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. The musicians themselves are at an even greater danger of hearing damage since they are subjected to loud music just about every day.

As you get older, you’ll still want to be capable of enjoying your favorite music whether you’re a musician or not. The key to having an extended successful career, for musicians, is protecting their hearing. For the rest of us, hearing protection is the key to a lifetime of musical fulfillment and enrichment.

Oftentimes it can be surprising how loud music can be

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

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. Usually, when they hear the answer, they’re pretty surprised: that music is certainly loud! Even classical music can reach fairly high volumes that can easily damage your hearing.

A violin, for example, can create sounds in excess of 90 dB. A leaf blower is about this loud. To put that into context, the European Union regulations dictate that any work environment noisier than 85 dB will require the use of ear protection.

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

Can you protect your ears from noise damage?

Okay, now you know that musicians need to safeguard their hearing (particularly if they want to continue rocking out for years to come). So what can musicians do to protect their ears and still take pleasure in the music they love 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 it follows that you should always know what volume of sound you’re subjecting your ears to. Keeping track of the volume on amps and PA systems is one factor. But you can also monitor day-to-day volume levels of environmental noises using a decibel meter app that you can download on your cellphone. You will want to make a few changes if the meter consistently detects volumes louder than 85 dB.
  • Take breaks: Your ears are the same as any other part of your body: they can become exhausted and will frequently benefit from rest. So give yourself “hearing breaks” frequently. This will help stop your ears from getting overwhelmed with sound (and damage). Duration is nearly as relevant as volume when it comes to hearing health. Taking breaks can be the difference between just the right amount of stimulation and too much!

Wear hearing protection

Using ear protection is the number one most effective way to safeguard your hearing. A lot of musicians are concerned that hearing protection will mute the sound and effects its overall sound quality. That’s not always true, depending on which type of ear protection you use.

  • Ear plugs made specifically for musicians: Disposable earplugs are something that’s probably very well known to most people. They’re fairly good at stopping a lot of sound though they sometimes don’t fit comfortably. They’re not hard to get, 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 buy high-quality earplugs made chiefly for musicians. A special material and state-of-the-art engineering are utilized to help these earplugs fit comfortably in the ear and minimize external noise by around 20% while maintaining the audio clarity. This solution is perfect for musicians who require 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 work in essentially the same way as high-quality, non-electronic earplugs. The earplug itself will block the majority of the sound. What you hear will instead be piped in by the earplug itself. This option is perfect for people who work in particularly noisy settings, and who are looking for more options when it comes to controlling volume.
  • In-ear monitors: Most music is electronic nowadays, or at least amplified by electronics. An in-ear monitor takes those electronic signals and transmits them directly to a device placed in your ear (called an in-ear monitor). It’s like a specialized little speaker for your ear, and most monitors can block out sound from the outside world (thanks to a fairly tight fit and special design). So you control the volume level and are able to hear sound in an accurate and clear way. In-ear monitors are beneficial for those who work mainly with electronically amplified instruments.

Protect your hearing, and protect your career

It’s better to start safeguarding your hearing early, before any substantial harm occurs. With options available at nearly every price point, there are easy ways for everybody to protect their hearing and their future. Remember, hearing protection for a musician is an investment in your career. By doing so, you will be able to enjoy making music for as long as you want to.

Don’t quite know where to start? Call 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.