For musicians making and listening to music is not only a job, but a passion. So, don’t let long-term exposure of excessive sound harm your hearing. There are simple ways to prevent hearing loss that still allow you to hear the sound you need to while on stage performing.
The Sound of Music and Its Toll on Hearing
The most preventable cause of long-term damage to hearing is repetitive high-level sound exposure. There are a few specific elements that may contribute to changes with your hearing, including:
- volume (measured in decibels – dB)
- frequency distribution
- duration of exposure
Any sound that runs higher than 85 dB is considered excessive, and exposure should be limited. For reference, ambient noise in a quiet room is usually around 40dB, a hair dryer is approximately 90dB, and a lawn mower runs at 110dB. A musician that is standing on stage in front of speakers, may be exposed levels up to 120 dB.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has issued guidelines that recommend only 30 seconds per day of exposure to sounds at 110db and only 7 seconds at 120dB, making proper precautions for musicians essential to long-term hearing health.
Custom Ear Protection: The Sound Barrier for Musicians
The most important thing to keep in mind is protecting your ears. Be aware of decibel levels at practice and during performances; there are several apps, many of which are free, available to track loudness levels and can help you avoid over-exposure.
Musicians should also develop the good habit of using ear protection when in any loud environment (not just music venues). Put them in when using power tools, shooting firearms, mowing the grass, or attending a sporting event.
Foam earplugs work for occasional use, but musicians should invest in custom ear protection for comfort and function. Earplugs made for musicians reduce all frequencies equally and thus preserve the musical soundscape in its entirety, though at a safer volume. Custom ear plugs also seal well in your ear canal for optimum protection and hearing loss prevention. Plus, when your ear plugs are comfortable, you are more likely to use them on a regular basis. It’s just human nature!
In-Ear Monitors: Your Personal Soundstage
In-ear monitors or IEMs are custom-molded and sit comfortably and discreetly inside the ear canal to aid musicians in hearing themselves and others on stage during performances. They are used as an alternative to floor monitors and have a wide variety of benefits, including prevention of hearing damage as they allow for lower volume levels. When using in-ear monitors:
- Never leave one IEM in and one out; that can cause more damage to your hearing over time.
- If hearing the world around you is challenging when wearing your IEMs, add an ambient mic channel or consider a different style of monitor.
The Newtown Hearing Center Experience
At Newtown Hearing Center, we enjoy helping musicians and can assist in deciding which hearing loss prevention solution is right for you. We can take impressions of your ears in our office and then create your custom ear plugs and/or in-ear monitors for you through partnerships with expert manufacturers. Take care of your ears comfortably when you visit us.
We strive to have a strong working relationship with our patients who are musicians, so you are successful in building healthy habits to protect your hearing. Newtown Hearing Center in Johns Creek cares about helping you live a better life through long-term hearing health.