Do you crank the volume up when your favorite tune comes on the radio? You aren’t alone. When you pump up your music, you can feel it in your gut. And it’s something you can truly take pleasure in. But, here’s the thing: it can also cause some significant harm.
The connection between music and hearing loss is closer than we previously understood. Volume is the biggest concern(this is based on how many times each day you listen and how intense the volume is). And many musicians are rethinking how they approach dealing with the volume of their music.
Musicians And Hearing Loss
It’s a pretty well-known irony that, later in life, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He was only able to hear his compositions in his head. There’s even one narrative about how the composer was conducting one of his symphonies and needed to be turned around at the end of the performance because he couldn’t hear the thundering applause of the crowd.
Beethoven might be the first and most well-known example of the deaf musician, but he certainly isn’t the last. In more recent times lots of musicians who are well known for playing at very loud volumes are coming forward with their stories of hearing loss.
From Eric Clapton to Neil Diamond to will.i.am, the stories all seem remarkably similar. Being a musician means spending nearly every day stuck between blaring speakers and booming crowds. Noticeable damage including hearing loss and tinnitus will ultimately be the result.
Even if You Aren’t a Musician This Could Still be a Problem
You might think that because you aren’t personally a rock star or a musician, this might not apply to you. You don’t have millions of adoring fans screaming at you (usually). And you’re not standing near a wall of amplifiers.
But you do have a pair of earbuds and your chosen playlist. And that’s the concern. Thanks to the advanced features of earbuds, nearly everyone can enjoy life like a musician, flooded by sound and music at way too high a volume.
This one little thing can now become a serious problem.
So When You’re Listening to Music, How Can You Protect Your Ears?
As with most scenarios admitting that there’s an issue is the first step. Raising awareness can help some people (especially younger, more naive people) figure out that they’re putting their hearing in jeopardy. But you also should take some further steps too:
- Manage your volume: If you go above a safe listening level, your smartphone may let you know. If you care about your long-term hearing, you should adhere to these warnings.
- Download a volume-checking app: You are probably not aware of the actual volume of a rock concert. It can be helpful to download one of several free apps that will provide you with a volume measurement of your environment. This will help you keep track of what’s dangerous and isn’t.
- Use earplugs: When you go to a rock concert (or any kind of musical event or show), use earplugs. They won’t really diminish your experience. But your ears will be safeguarded from further harm. (By the way, wearing ear protection is what the majority of your favorite musicians are currently doing to safeguard their hearing, so even the cool kids are doing it).
In many ways, the math here is rather straight forward: you will have more significant hearing loss in the future the more often you put your hearing at risk. Eric Clapton, for instance, has completely lost his hearing. If he realized this would happen, he probably would have started protecting his ears sooner.
Limiting exposure, then, is the best way to limit damage. For musicians (and for individuals who happen to work at music venues), that can be tricky. Part of the solution is hearing protection.
But keeping the volume at practical levels is also a good idea.