Do you crank up the volume when your favorite tune comes on the radio? Lots of people do that. There’s something intuitive about pumping up the jam. And it’s something you can truly enjoy. But, here’s the situation: it can also cause some considerable damage.
In the past we weren’t familiar with the relationship between hearing loss and music. That has a lot to do with volume (this is based on how many times daily you listen and how extreme the volume is). And many musicians are rethinking how they approach managing the volume of their music.
Musicians And Hearing Loss
It’s a fairly famous irony that, when he got older, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He couldn’t hear any of the pieces he created (except 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 definitely not the only example of hearing problems in musicians. In fact, a far more recent generation of rock musicians, all famous for cranking their speakers (and performances) up to 11–are now going public with their personal hearing loss experiences.
From Eric Clapton to Neil Diamond to will.i.am, the stories all seem amazingly similar. Being a musician means spending nearly every day sandwiched between blaring speakers and booming crowds. The trauma that the ears experience on a daily basis gradually leads to significant harm: hearing loss and tinnitus.
Even if You’re Not a Musician This Could Still be a Problem
As a non-rock star (at least in terms of the profession, everybody knows you’re a rock star in terms of personality), you might have a difficult time relating this to your personal worries. You don’t have millions of adoring fans screaming for you (usually). And you don’t have massive amplifiers behind you every day.
But you do have a set of earbuds and your favorite playlist. And that can be a real concern. Thanks to the contemporary capabilities of earbuds, nearly everyone can experience life like a musician, flooded by sound and music that are way too loud.
This one little thing can now become a substantial problem.
So How Can You Safeguard Your Ears While Listening to Music?
As with most situations admitting that there’s a problem is the first step. People are putting their hearing in jeopardy and need to be made aware of it (particularly more impressionable, younger people). But you also need to take some further steps too:
- Download a volume-checking app: You might not comprehend just how loud a rock concert or music venue is. Wherever you are, the volume of your environment can be measured with one of several free apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone. This can help you monitor what’s dangerous and isn’t.
- Keep your volume in check: Some modern smartphones will let you know when you’re going beyond safe limits on volume. You should adhere to these safety measures if you value your long-term hearing.
- Use ear protection: When you go to a rock concert (or any sort of musical show or event), use hearing protection. They won’t really lessen your experience. But your ears will be safeguarded from further damage. (And don’t assume that using hearing protection will make you uncool because it’s what most of your favorite musicians are doing.).
It’s pretty straight forward math: the more often you put your ears at an increased risk, the more extensive your hearing loss later in life could be. Eric Clapton, for instance, has entirely lost his hearing. If he knew, he probably would have started protecting his ears sooner.
The best way to limit your damage, then, is to limit your exposure. For musicians (and for individuals who happen to work around live music), that can be a challenge. Ear protection may provide part of a solution there.
But turning the volume down to practical levels is also a good idea.