Should Musicians Wear Hearing Protection?

Close up of drummer's hands playing a drum kit. Drums are very loud, the player should be wearing hearing protection.

Musicians rock. They bring so much joy to our lives with their songs. 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 exposed to loud music nearly every day.

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

Sometimes it can be surprising how loud music can get

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

But what about music? If you ask somebody whether an acoustic guitar or a lone violin is loud, they may not reply so quickly. Imagine their surprise when they discover the reality: that music is indeed loud! Even classical music can reach relatively loud volumes that can easily harm your hearing.

A violin, for instance, can create sounds in excess of 90 dB. A leaf blower is around this noisy. To put that into context, the European Union regulations dictate that any workplace louder than 85 dB requires the use of ear protection.

And if you’re working with music day in and day out, continuous exposure to that kind of volume, particularly without ear protection, can severely harm your hearing over time.

Can you protect your ears from noise damage?

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

Here are a couple of tips:

  • Take breaks: Like any part of your body, your ears can become tired and may need to get a little rest. So take regular breaks from the noise. This will help prevent your ears from getting overwhelmed with noise (and damage). With regard to hearing, how long you’re exposed is almost as significant as how loud it is. The difference between the ideal amount of stimulation and too much can depend upon taking frequent breaks.
  • Track your volume: Knowledge is power, right? So knowing volume levels of sounds around you will help you protect your hearing. Tracking the volume on amps and PA systems is one factor. But you can also keep track of day-to-day volume levels of environmental noises using a volume meter app that you can download on your cellphone. You will want to make some changes if the meter regularly reads louder than 85 dB.

Wear hearing protection

Needless to say, the single most effective thing you can do to protect your hearing is simple: using ear protection of some kind. Many musicians are reluctant to wear ear protection because they’re concerned it will impact the quality of sound they hear, in addition to muting the volume. But depending on what kind of hearing protection you use, that may not always be accurate.

  • Ear plugs made specifically for musicians: Disposable earplugs are something that’s probably very well known to most people. They don’t always fit well, but they do reliably stop a lot of sound. They’re cheap, easy to come by, and easy to dispose of. For musicians, they aren’t the best solution. However, by spending just a little more money, you can buy high-quality earplugs designed specifically for musicians. A specialized material and modern engineering are used to help these earplugs fit comfortably in the ear and reduce external noise by about 20% while preserving the audio fidelity. For musicians who need a moderate level of protection on a budget, this option is perfect.
  • Electronic earplugs: Electronic earplugs function in pretty much the same way as high-quality, non-electronic earplugs. The earplug itself will block out the majority of the sound. But the earplug itself will send in the sound you hear. For individuals who work in very noisy environments and need better control of the volume, these earplugs are perfect.
  • In-ear monitors: Electronics are a significant part of modern music. An in-ear monitor takes those electronic signals and conveys them directly to a device placed inside of 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 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 solution.

Safeguard your hearing, and protect your career

It’s best to begin safeguarding your hearing early, before any significant damage occurs. Everybody can safeguard their hearing and future with ear protection options at all price points. 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.

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