When your favorite song comes on the radio, do you find yourself turning up the volume? Lots of people do that. When you pump up your music, you can feel it in your gut. And it’s something you can truly enjoy. But there’s one thing you should recognize: there can also be appreciable harm done.
The connection between music and hearing loss is closer than we once understood. That has a lot to do with volume (this is in regards to how many times a day you listen and how intense the volume is). And it’s one of the reasons that many of today’s musicians are changing their tune to save their hearing.
Hearing Loss And Musicians
It’s a pretty well-known irony that, when he got older, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He could only hear his compositions in his head. There’s even one story about how the composer was conducting one of his symphonies and needed to be turned around when his performance was finished because he couldn’t hear the thundering applause of the crowd.
Beethoven may be the first and most famous example of the deaf musician, but he certainly isn’t the last. Indeed, a far more recent generation of rock musicians, all known for cranking their speakers (and performances) up to 11–have begun to go public with their personal hearing loss experiences.
From Neil Diamond to Eric Clapton to will.i.am, the stories all sound amazingly similar. Musicians spend a huge amount of time coping with crowd noise and loud speakers. The trauma that the ears experience on a daily basis gradually brings about significant harm: tinnitus and hearing loss.
Even if You Aren’t a Musician This Could Still be a Problem
Being someone who isn’t a rock star (at least in terms of the profession, we all know you’re a rock star in terms of personality), you could have a hard time connecting this to your personal worries. You’re not playing for huge crowds. And you don’t have huge amplifiers behind you every day.
But you do have a pair of earbuds and your chosen playlist. And that can be a real problem. Thanks to the modern capabilities of earbuds, pretty much everyone can enjoy life like a musician, inundated by sound and music that are way too loud.
This one little thing can now become a serious issue.
So How Can You Safeguard Your Hearing While Listening to Music?
As with most situations admitting that there’s an issue is the first step. People are putting their hearing in jeopardy and need to be made aware of it (especially more impressionable, younger people). But you also should take some further steps too:
- Use earplugs: When you attend a rock concert (or any type of musical show or event), wear earplugs. Your experience won’t be lessened by using ear protection. But your ears will be protected from further harm. (And don’t think that using hearing protection will make you uncool because it’s what the majority of your favorite musicians are doing.).
- Control your volume: Some modern smartphones will alert you when you’re exceeding healthy limits on volume. You should listen to these warnings if you care about your long-term hearing.
- Get a volume-checking app: You might not recognize just how loud a rock concert or music venue is. Wherever you find yourself, the volume of your environment can be measured with one of many free apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone. As a result, when dangerous levels are reached you will be aware of it.
In a lot of ways, the math here is rather straight forward: the more often you put your ears at an increased risk, the more extensive your hearing loss could be later in life. Eric Clapton, for instance, has entirely lost his hearing. If he realized this would happen, he probably would have begun protecting his ears sooner.
Limiting exposure, then, is the best way to limit damage. That can be difficult for people who work at a concert venue. Part of the solution is wearing hearing protection.
But everyone would be a lot better off if we simply turned down the volume to reasonable levels.