Do you turn the volume up when your favorite song comes on the radio? Lots of people do that. When you pump up your music, you can feel it in your gut. And it’s something you can really take pleasure in. But, here’s the thing: there can also be considerable harm done.
In the past we weren’t informed about the relationship between music and hearing loss. That has a lot to do with volume (this is based on how many times daily you listen and how excessive the volume is). And many musicians are rethinking how they approach dealing with the volume of their music.
Hearing Loss And Musicians
It’s a pretty famous irony that, later in life, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He could only hear his compositions internally. On one occasion he even had to be turned around so he could see the thunderous applause of his audience because he wasn’t able to hear it.
Beethoven is definitely not the only example of hearing issues in musicians. In more recent times quite a few musicians who are well known for playing at very loud volumes are coming forth with their stories of hearing loss.
From Neil Diamond to Eric Clapton to will.i.am, the stories all sound remarkably similar. Musicians spend a large amount of time coping with crowd noise and loud speakers. Noticeable damage including tinnitus and hearing loss will ultimately be the result.
Even if You Aren’t a Musician This Could Still be an Issue
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 may have a hard time connecting this to your own worries. You don’t have millions of cheering fans screaming for you (usually). And you don’t have huge amplifiers behind you daily.
But you do have a couple of earbuds and your chosen playlist. And that can be a real problem. It’s become effortless for every single one of us to experience music like rock stars do, at way too high a volume.
The ease with which you can expose yourself to damaging and continuous sounds make this one time cliche grievance into a considerable cause for alarm.
So When You’re Listening to Music, How Can You Safeguard Your Hearing?
So, the first step is that we admit there’s an issue (that’s kind of always the first step, but it’s particularly true in this case). People are putting their hearing in danger and have to be made aware of it (particularly more impressionable, younger people). But you also should take some further steps too:
- Get a volume-monitoring app: You are probably not aware of the actual volume of a live concert. It can be beneficial to get one of several free apps that will provide you with a volume measurement of the space you’re in. As a result, when dangerous levels are reached you will know it.
- Keep your volume in check: Some modern smartphones will alert you when you’re going beyond safe limits on volume. If you care about your long-term hearing, you should listen to these warnings.
- Use earplugs: Use earplugs when you go to a concert or any other live music show. Your experience won’t be lessened by using ear plugs. But they will protect your ears from the most severe of the damage. (By the way, wearing ear protection is what most of your favorite musicians are currently doing to safeguard their hearing, so even the cool kids are doing it).
In a lot of ways, the math here is fairly straight forward: you will have more severe hearing loss in the future the more you put your hearing at risk. Eric Clapton, for example, has entirely lost his hearing. He likely wishes he started wearing earplugs a lot sooner.
Reducing exposure, then, is the best way to limit damage. For musicians (and for people who happen to work around live music), that can be a challenge. Ear protection could supply part of a solution there.
But turning the volume down to practical levels is also a good idea.