Do you crank up the volume when your favorite song comes on the radio? Many people do that. When you pump up the music, you can feel it in your gut. And it’s enjoyable. But there’s one thing you should understand: it can also cause some appreciable damage.
The relationship between music and hearing loss is closer than we once thought. Volume is the biggest concern(both in terms of sound level and the number of listening sessions in a day). And it’s one of the reasons that many of today’s musicians are changing their tune to protect their hearing.
Hearing Loss And Musicians
It’s a pretty 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). 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 lots of musicians who are well known for playing at extremely loud volumes are coming forth with their stories of hearing loss.
From Neil Diamond to Eric Clapton to will.i.am, the stories all seem remarkably similar. Being a musician means spending just about every day sandwiched between blaring speakers and roaring crowds. The trauma that the ears experience every day eventually results in noticeable damage: tinnitus and hearing loss.
Not a Musician? Still an Issue
As a non-rock star (at least when it comes to the profession, everyone knows you’re a rock star in terms of personality), you may have a difficult time connecting this to your personal worries. You don’t have millions of cheering fans screaming for you (usually). And you don’t have massive amplifiers behind you every day.
But your favorite playlist and a pair of earbuds are things you do have. And there’s the problem. Thanks to the modern features of earbuds, nearly everyone can enjoy life like a musician, inundated by sound and music at way too high a volume.
This one little thing can now become a substantial issue.
So How Can You Safeguard Your Hearing When Listening to Music?
So, first we need to admit there’s an issue (that’s usually the first step, but it’s especially true in this case). Raising awareness will help some people (particularly younger, more naive people) become aware that they’re putting their hearing in jeopardy. But there are other (additional) steps you can take too:
- Keep your volume under control: If you exceed a safe volume your smartphone may let you know. You should listen to these safety measures if you care about your long-term hearing.
- Download a volume-checking app: You are probably not aware of the actual volume of a live concert. Wherever you find yourself, the volume of your environment can be measured with one of several free apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone. This will help you keep track of what’s dangerous and isn’t.
- Use earplugs: Use earplugs when you go to a concert or any other live music event. Your experience won’t be diminished by using ear protection. But they will protect your ears from the most harmful of the injury. (And don’t assume that using hearing protection will make you uncool because it’s what the majority of your favorite musicians are doing.).
It’s pretty straight forward math: the more often you put your ears at risk, the more significant your hearing loss could be later in life. Eric Clapton, for example, has entirely lost his hearing. If he realized this would happen, he probably would have started protecting his hearing sooner.
Reducing exposure, then, is the best way to reduce damage. That can be tough for individuals who work around live music. Ear protection could provide part of a solution there.
But everybody would be a lot better off if we just turned down the volume to reasonable levels.