When your favorite tune comes on the radio, do you find yourself turning the volume up? You aren’t on your own. There’s something intuitive about pumping up the jam. And it’s something you can really take pleasure in. But there’s one thing you should recognize: it can also result in some significant harm.
The connection between music and hearing loss is closer than we previously understood. That has a lot to do with volume (both when it comes to sound level and the number of listening sessions each day). And many musicians are rethinking how they approach dealing with the volume of their music.
Musicians And Hearing Loss
It’s a rather famous irony that, later in life, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He couldn’t hear any of the music he composed (except in his head). There’s even one story about how the composer was conducting one of his symphonies and needed to be turned around when his performance was finished 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 surely isn’t the last. In more recent times lots of musicians who are widely recognized for playing at extremely loud volumes are coming forward with their stories of hearing loss.
From Neil Diamond to Eric Clapton to will.i.am, the stories all sound amazingly similar. Musicians spend a huge amount of time coping with crowd noise and loud speakers. The trauma which the ears experience on a daily basis gradually leads to noticeable damage: tinnitus and hearing loss.
Even if You Aren’t a Musician This Could Still be a Problem
You may think that because you aren’t personally a rock star or a musician, this might not apply to you. You’re not playing for large crowds. And you’re not standing in front of a wall of amplifiers.
But you do have a set of earbuds and your favorite playlist. And that can be a serious problem. Thanks to the contemporary capabilities of earbuds, pretty much everyone can enjoy life like a musician, inundated by sound and music at way too high a volume.
The ease with which you can subject yourself to detrimental and continuous sounds make this once cliche grievance into a significant cause for alarm.
So How Can You Safeguard Your Ears While Listening to Music?
So, the first step is that we admit there’s an issue (that’s kind of always the first step, but it’s especially true in this case). People are putting their hearing in danger and need to be made aware of it (particularly more impressionable, younger people). But you also should take some other steps too:
- Use earplugs: Put in earplugs when you go to a concert or any other live music show. Your experience won’t be diminished by using ear protection. But they will protect your ears from the worst of the injury. (And don’t think that using hearing protection will make you uncool because it’s what most of your favorite musicians are doing.).
- Download a volume-monitoring app: You may not comprehend just how loud a rock concert or music venue is. It can be useful to get one of a few free apps that will give you a volume measurement of the space you’re in. This will help you monitor what’s dangerous and what’s not.
- Keep your volume under control: Many modern smartphones will alert you when you’re exceeding safe limits on volume. If you value your long-term hearing, you should listen to these warnings.
It’s rather 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, as an example, has completely lost his hearing. He likely wishes he begun wearing earplugs a little bit sooner.
The best way to limit your damage, then, is to limit your exposure. For musicians (and for people who happen to work at music venues), that can be tricky. Part of the solution is hearing protection.
But everybody would be a little better off if we just turned the volume down to practical levels.