When your favorite song comes on the radio, do you find yourself turning up the volume? Lots of people do that. When you pump up your music, you can feel it in your gut. And it’s fun. But there’s one thing you should recognize: it can also cause some considerable damage.
The relationship between hearing loss and music is closer than we once understood. That has a lot to do with volume (this is in regards to how many times a day you listen and how extreme the volume is). And it’s one of the reasons that countless of today’s musicians are changing their tune to save their hearing.
Musicians And Hearing Loss
It’s a pretty well-known irony that, when he got older, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He was only able to hear his compositions internally. There’s even one narrative about how the composer was conducting one of his symphonies and had to be turned around when his performance was finished because he couldn’t hear the thundering applause of the crowd.
Beethoven may be the first and most famous example of the deaf musician, but he certainly isn’t the last. In more recent times many musicians who are widely recognized for playing at very loud volumes are coming out with their stories of hearing loss.
From Eric Clapton to Neil Diamond to will.i.am, the stories all seem 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 eventually brings about noticeable damage: hearing loss and tinnitus.
Even if You’re Not 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’re not performing for huge crowds. 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 serious concern. Thanks to the modern capabilities of earbuds, pretty much everyone can enjoy life like a musician, flooded by sound and music that are way too loud.
This one little thing can now become a substantial issue.
So When You’re Listening to Music, How Can You Protect Your Hearing?
So, first we need to admit there’s a problem (that’s kind of always the first step, but it’s especially true in this case). People are putting their hearing in danger and have to be made aware of it (particularly more impressionable, younger people). But there are other (further) steps you can also take:
- Get a volume-monitoring app: You are probably not aware of the actual volume of a rock concert. It can be helpful to get one of a few free apps that will give you a volume measurement of the space you’re in. In this way, when dangerous levels are reached you will know it.
- Keep your volume in check: Many modern smartphones will let you know when you’re exceeding healthy limits on volume. If you care about your long-term hearing, you should adhere to these warnings.
- Use ear protection: When you attend a rock concert (or any sort of musical event or show), use hearing protection. They won’t really lessen your experience. But they will safeguard your ears from the most severe of the damage. (By the way, wearing ear protection is what the majority of your favorite musicians are currently doing to protect their hearing, so even the cool kids are doing it).
It’s pretty simple math: the more often you put your ears at risk, the more significant your hearing loss later in life could be. Eric Clapton, for instance, has entirely lost his hearing. He likely wishes he begun wearing earplugs a lot sooner.
Reducing exposure, then, is the best way to limit damage. For musicians (and for people who happen to work around live music), that can be difficult. Part of the strategy is ear protection.
But turning the volume down to sensible levels is also a good idea.