Do you crank the volume up when your favorite song comes on the radio? Many people do that. There’s something visceral about pumping up the music. And it’s enjoyable. But there’s one thing you should know: there can also be appreciable harm done.
In the past we weren’t conscious of the relationship between hearing loss and music. Volume is the biggest problem(this is based on how many times daily you listen and how extreme 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 fairly well-known 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 had to be turned around to see the thunderous applause of his audience because he couldn’t hear it.
Beethoven is certainly not the only instance of hearing issues in musicians. In fact, a far more recent generation of rock musicians, all famous for turning their speakers (and performances) up to 11–are now going public with their own hearing loss experiences.
From Eric Clapton to Neil Diamond to will.i.am, the stories all seem remarkably similar. Being a musician means spending nearly every day sandwiched between blaring speakers and deafening crowds. Significant damage including hearing loss and tinnitus will eventually be the result.
Not a Musician? Still a Problem
You might think that because you’re not personally a rock star or a musician, this might not apply to you. You’re not performing for large crowds. And you don’t have huge amplifiers behind you every day.
But your favorite playlist and a pair of earbuds are things you do have. And there’s the problem. It’s become effortless for each one of us to experience music like rock stars do, way too loud.
This one little thing can now become a real issue.
So How Can You Protect Your Hearing While Listening to Music?
As with most scenarios admitting that there’s an issue is the first step. People are putting their hearing in jeopardy and have to be made aware of it (especially more impressionable, younger people). But you also need to take some other steps too:
- Download a volume-monitoring app: You are probably unaware of the actual volume of a rock concert. It can be beneficial to download one of a few free apps that will give you a volume measurement of the space you’re in. In this way, when hazardous levels are reached you will know it.
- Keep your volume in check: If you go above a safe volume your smartphone may let you know. You should listen to these safety measures if you care about your long-term hearing.
- Use ear protection: When you attend a rock concert (or any sort of musical event or show), wear hearing protection. They won’t really diminish your experience. But they will protect your ears from the most harmful of the damage. (By the way, wearing earplugs is what most of your favorite musicians are currently doing to protect their hearing, so even the cool kids are doing it).
It’s pretty straight forward math: the more often you put your ears at risk, the more substantial your hearing loss could be later in life. Eric Clapton, for example, has completely lost his hearing. He probably wishes he begun wearing earplugs a little bit sooner.
Decreasing exposure, then, is the best way to limit damage. For musicians (and for people who happen to work at music venues), that can be tricky. Part of the strategy is wearing ear protection.
But turning the volume down to reasonable levels is also a good idea.