When your favorite tune comes on the radio, do you find yourself cranking up the volume? Many people do that. There’s something visceral about pumping up the jam. And it’s something you can really enjoy. But there’s one thing you should understand: it can also result in some considerable damage.
In the past we weren’t conscious of the relationship between hearing loss and music. That has a lot to do with volume (this is in regards to how many times each day you listen and how extreme the volume is). And many musicians are rethinking how they approach coping with the volume of their music.
Hearing Loss And Musicians
It’s a fairly famous irony that, later in life, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He could only hear his compositions in his head. On one occasion he even needed to be turned around so he could see the thunderous applause from his audience because he wasn’t able to hear it.
Beethoven is certainly not the only instance of hearing problems in musicians. In more recent times quite a few musicians who are widely recognized 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 dealing with crowd noise and loud speakers. The trauma which the ears experience on a daily basis eventually brings about significant damage: tinnitus and hearing loss.
Even if You’re Not a Musician This Could Still be a Problem
Being someone who isn’t a rock star (at least when it comes to the profession, we all know you’re a rock star in terms of personality), you might have a hard time connecting this to your personal worries. You’re not playing for large crowds. And you don’t have huge amplifiers behind you every day.
But you do have a pair of earbuds and your chosen playlist. And there’s the problem. Thanks to the contemporary capabilities of earbuds, just about everyone can experience life like a musician, flooded by sound and music at way too high a volume.
The ease with which you can subject yourself to detrimental and constant sounds make this one time cliche complaint into a substantial cause for alarm.
So How Can You Protect Your Hearing While Listening to Music?
As with most scenarios admitting that there’s a problem is the first step. Raising awareness will help some people (particularly younger, more impressionable people) become aware that they’re putting their hearing in danger. But you also need to take some other steps too:
- Use earplugs: Wear earplugs when you go to a concert or any other live music event. They won’t really lessen your experience. But your ears will be safeguarded from further harm. (And don’t think that using hearing protection will make you uncool because it’s what the majority of your favorite musicians are doing.).
- Get a volume-checking app: You may not comprehend just how loud a rock concert or music venue is. It can be useful to download one of several free apps that will give you a volume measurement of your environment. In this way, when harmful levels are reached you will be aware of it.
- Manage your volume: If you exceed a safe volume your smartphone may let you know. If you value your long-term hearing, you should listen to these warnings.
In many ways, the math here is quite simple: you will have more extreme hearing loss later on the more often 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.
The best way to minimize your damage, then, is to lessen your exposure. That can be tricky for individuals who work around live music. Ear protection could provide part of an answer there.
But keeping the volume at reasonable levels is also a smart idea.