Should Musicians Use Ear Protection?

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

Musicians rock. Their shows bring us so much happiness. But music is a lot more powerful when it’s loud, and that can be a hearing hazard. Since musicians subject themselves to loud music on a daily basis, their hearing is at an increased risk of being harmed.

As you get older, you’ll still want to be able to enjoy your favorite songs whether you’re a musician or not. For musicians, protecting their hearing is the key to a lengthy and successful career. For the rest of us, ear protection is the key to a lifetime of musical enjoyment and enrichment.

Sometimes it can be surprising how loud music can get

If you ask most people whether a jet engine is loud, they’ll likely say yes.

Is music actually that loud? If you ask someone whether an acoustic guitar or a lone violin is loud, they might not reply right away. Usually, when they hear the answer, they’re pretty surprised: that music is certainly loud! Even classical music can reach fairly loud volumes that can easily damage your hearing.

A violin, for example, can produce sounds well over 90 dB. That’s about as noisy as a leaf blower. To put that into context, the European Union laws dictate that any workplace louder than 85 dB will require the use of hearing protection.

And your hearing can be significantly compromised over time if you’re working with music every day, particularly if you don’t wear ear protection.

How can you protect your hearing?

Okay, musicians who want to keep their hearing for years to come need to safeguard their hearing. So what can musicians do to safeguard their ears and still enjoy the music they enjoy so much?

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

  • Take breaks: Your ears are the same as any other part of your body: they can become exhausted and will frequently benefit from rest. So take frequent breaks from the noise. In this way, noises won’t overwhelm and damage your ears. Duration is almost as relevant as volume with regard to hearing health. The difference between the ideal amount of stimulation and too much can depend upon taking frequent breaks.
  • Track your volume: Everyone knows the old saying “knowledge is power”. So being aware of volume levels of noises around you will help you protect your hearing. Keeping track of the volume on amps and PA systems is part of it. But you can also monitor day-to-day volume levels of environmental noises using a decibel meter app that you can download on your cellphone. You will need to make some changes if the meter regularly detects volumes above 85 dB.

Use hearing protection

Needless to say, the single most effective thing you can do to protect your ears is simple: using hearing protection of some kind. A lot of musicians are worried that hearing protection will muffle the sound and effects its overall sound quality. But depending on what kind of hearing protection you use, that might not always be true.

  • Ear plugs made mainly for musicians: Most individuals are most likely familiar with disposable ear plugs. They don’t always fit perfectly, but they do reliably block a lot of sound. They’re inexpensive, easy to come by, and easy to throw away. And they aren’t best suited for musicians. However, by paying a little more, you can purchase high-quality earplugs made specifically for musicians. These earplugs use fancy manufacturing tricks (mostly they’re made out of very specific materials and are designed to fit comfortably in the ear) to preserve audio clarity while diminishing the noise you experience by about 20dB. For musicians who need a moderate level of protection on a budget, this option is perfect.
  • Electronic earplugs: The same general functionality found in non-electronic earplugs can be found in electronic earplugs. The earplug itself will block most of the sound. What you hear will instead be piped in by the earplug itself. For people who work in very noisy settings and need better control of the volume, these earplugs are perfect.
  • In-ear monitors: Electronics are a significant part of modern music. A device, called an in-ear-monitor, is put in your ear and transmits signals in electronically. It’s like a specialized little speaker for your ear, and most monitors can block out sound from the outside environment (thanks to a rather tight fit and special design). So you regulate the volume level and are able to hear sound accurately and clearly. In-ear monitors are beneficial for people who work chiefly with electronically amplified instruments.

Protect your career by protecting your hearing

It’s best to begin protecting your hearing early, before any substantial harm occurs. With solutions available at nearly every price point, there are easy ways for everyone to safeguard their hearing and their future. Remember that you’re investing in your career by utilizing hearing protection for musicians. It’s one way to make sure you’ll be making amazing music for years (maybe even decades) to come!

Contact us so we can help you get started.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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