When your favorite tune comes on the radio, do you find yourself cranking up the volume? Lots of people do that. When you pump up your music, you can feel it in your gut. And it’s something you can truly enjoy. But there’s one thing you should recognize: there can also be considerable damage done.
The connection between music and hearing loss is closer than we once thought. That has a lot to do with volume (this is in regards to how many times per day you listen and how extreme the volume is). And it’s one of the reasons that lots of today’s musicians are changing their tune to protect their hearing.
Hearing Loss And Musicians
It’s a fairly 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 had to be turned around at the end of the performance because he was unable to hear the thundering applause of the crowd.
Beethoven may be the first and most famous example of the deaf musician, but he definitely isn’t the last. In more recent times quite a few musicians who are widely recognized for playing at extremely loud volumes are coming out with their stories of hearing loss.
From Neil Diamond to Eric Clapton to will.i.am, the stories all sound remarkably similar. Musicians spend a huge amount of time dealing with crowd noise and loud speakers. The trauma which the ears experience on a daily basis eventually brings about noticeable harm: tinnitus and hearing loss.
Even if You’re Not a Musician This Could Still be a Problem
As a non-rock star (at least when it comes to the profession, we all know you’re a rock star in terms of personality), you may have a hard time connecting this to your own worries. You don’t have millions of adoring fans screaming at you (usually). And you don’t have huge amplifiers behind you every day.
But you do have a set of earbuds and your favorite playlist. And that can be a serious concern. It’s become effortless for each one of us to experience music like rock stars do, at way too high a volume.
This one little thing can now become a substantial problem.
So How Can You Safeguard Your Hearing When Listening to Music?
So, first we need to 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 jeopardy and have to be made aware of it (particularly more impressionable, younger people). But there are other (further) steps you can take too:
- Download a volume-monitoring app: You may not realize just how loud a rock concert or music venue is. It can be beneficial to get one of a few free apps that will give you a volume measurement of your environment. This will help you keep track of what’s dangerous and what’s not.
- Manage your volume: Some modern smartphones will alert you when you’re exceeding healthy limits on volume. You should adhere to these safety measures if you value your long-term hearing.
- Wear earplugs: Use earplugs when you go to a concert or any other live music event. Your experience won’t be diminished by using ear plugs. But your ears will be protected from further damage. (By the way, wearing earplugs is what the majority of your favorite musicians are currently doing to safeguard their hearing, so even the cool kids are doing it).
In a lot of ways, the math here is quite straight forward: the more often you put your ears at an increased risk, the more extensive your hearing loss could be later in life. Eric Clapton, as an example, has completely lost his hearing. He probably wishes he begun wearing earplugs a little bit sooner.
The best way to limit your damage, then, is to lessen your exposure. For musicians (and for individuals who happen to work at music venues), that can be tricky. Part of the strategy is wearing hearing protection.
But keeping the volume at reasonable levels is also a smart idea.