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

Musicians are cool! Their shows bring us so much happiness. The drawback is that music is pretty much always loud, in fact, many people prefer it that way. The musicians themselves are at an even greater danger of hearing damage since they are exposed to loud music just about every day.

Whether your living depends on music or not, you’ll still want to be able to hear your favorite songs when you’re pushing 60, 70, or 80. The key to having an extended successful career, for musicians, is protecting their ears. For the rest of us, ear protection is the secret to a lifetime of musical enjoyment and enrichment.

Oftentimes it can be surprising how loud music can get

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

Is music actually that loud? If you ask someone whether an acoustic guitar or a lone violin is noisy, they might not answer right away. Usually, when they hear the answer, they’re pretty surprised: that music is certainly loud! Your ears can even be harmed by classical music which can get to relatively high volumes.

Sounds higher than 90 dB can be produced by a violin, for instance. A leaf blower is about this noisy. To put that into context, the European Union regulations dictate that any work environment louder than 85 dB requires the use of ear protection.

And if you’re working with music on a daily basis, continuous exposure to that kind of volume, particularly without ear protection, can severely harm your hearing over time.

How can you safeguard your hearing?

Okay, now you know that musicians need to safeguard their hearing (particularly if they want to continue rocking out for years to come). So how can musicians keep enjoying their music while also preserving their hearing?

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

  • Take breaks: Your ears are the same as any other part of your body: they can become exhausted and will often benefit from rest. So give yourself “hearing breaks” frequently. This will help prevent your ears from getting overwhelmed with noise (and damage). With regard to hearing, how long you’re exposed is nearly as important as how loud it is. The difference between the perfect amount of stimulation and too much can depend upon taking regular breaks.
  • Track your volume: Everybody remembers the old saying “knowledge is power”. So it follows that you should always know what volume of sound you’re subjecting your ears to. Tracking the volume on amps and PA systems is part of it. But you can also purchase a decibel meter app for your smartphone to make it easy to monitor the real-world volume levels your ears are experiencing day in and day out. If the meter reads above 85dB consistently, you’ll need to address this.

Use hearing protection

Of course, the single most effective thing you can do to safeguard your hearing is easy: using hearing protection of some kind. Lots of musicians are concerned that ear protection will mute the sound and impact its overall sound quality. That’s not always true, depending on which type of hearing protection you use.

  • Ear plugs made specifically for musicians: Disposable earplugs are something that’s likely very well known to most people. They don’t always fit perfectly, but they do reliably block a lot of sound. They aren’t difficult to find, aren’t expensive, and can be disposed of easily. And they aren’t best suited for musicians. But earplugs made just for musicians are also available for a little more money. A specialized material and state-of-the-art engineering are used to help these earplugs fit comfortably in the ear and minimize external noise by about 20% while maintaining the audio clarity. For musicians who require a moderate level of protection on a budget, this solution is perfect.
  • Electronic earplugs: Electronic earplugs function in essentially 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 send in the sound you hear. For individuals who work in very noisy settings and need better control of the volume, these earplugs are ideal.
  • In-ear monitors: The majority of music is electronic these days, 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). The majority of monitors are little speakers that fit tightly and block out the majority of sound while playing sounds you want to hear at less harmful volumes. 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 perfect answer.

Protect your ears, and protect your career

It’s never too late to take measures to safeguard your hearing, but it’s definitely a good plan to start sooner rather than later. Everybody can safeguard their hearing and future with ear protection options for every budget. Keep in mind, hearing protection for a musician is an investment in your career. It’s one way to ensure you’ll be making incredible music for many years (maybe even decades) to come!

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