Do you crank up the volume when your favorite song comes on the radio? Lots of people do that. There’s something visceral about pumping up the jam. And it’s something you can really take pleasure in. But there’s one thing you should understand: there can also be significant harm done.
In the past we weren’t conscious of the relationship between music and hearing loss. Volume is the biggest issue(both when it comes to sound level and the number of listening sessions each day). 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 fairly famous irony that, when he got older, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He couldn’t hear any of the music he composed (except in his head). On one occasion he even had to be turned around to 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 lots of musicians who are widely recognized for playing at extremely loud volumes are coming out 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. The trauma that the ears experience on a daily basis eventually leads to significant harm: hearing loss and tinnitus.
Even if You’re Not a Musician This Could Still be an Issue
As a non-rock star (at least when it comes to the profession, we all know you’re a rock star in terms of personality), you may have a hard time connecting this to your personal worries. You’re not playing for large crowds. And you’re not standing in front of a wall of amplifiers.
But your favorite playlist and a pair of earbuds are things you do have. And that can be a real problem. Thanks to the advanced features of earbuds, just about everyone can experience life like a musician, flooded by sound and music that are way too loud.
This one little thing can now become a substantial problem.
So How Can You Safeguard Your Hearing While Listening to Music?
As with most situations admitting that there’s a problem is the first step. People are putting their hearing in danger and need to be made aware of it (especially more impressionable, younger people). But there are other (additional) steps you can take too:
- Use earplugs: Wear earplugs when you attend a concert or any other live music show. They won’t really diminish your experience. But they will protect your ears from the most severe of the injury. (And don’t assume that using hearing protection will make you uncool because it’s what the majority of your favorite musicians are doing.).
- Manage your volume: If you go above a safe volume your smartphone might let you know. You should listen to these safety measures if you care about your long-term hearing.
- Download a volume-monitoring app: You are probably unaware of the actual volume of a live concert. It can be beneficial to get one of several free apps that will give you a volume measurement of the space you’re in. This can help you monitor what’s dangerous and isn’t.
In a lot of ways, the math here is rather simple: the more often you put your ears at an increased risk, the more extensive your hearing loss later in life could be. Eric Clapton, as an example, has entirely lost his hearing. He probably wishes he begun wearing earplugs a lot sooner.
The best way to lessen your damage, then, is to reduce your exposure. For musicians (and for individuals who happen to work around live music), that can be challenging. Ear protection might provide part of a solution there.
But everybody would be a little better off if we simply turned the volume down to sensible levels.