When your favorite tune comes on the radio, do you find yourself cranking the volume up? You aren’t on your own. When you pump up the music, you can feel it in your gut. And it’s enjoyable. But, here’s the situation: there can also be appreciable damage done.
In the past we weren’t conscious of the relationship between hearing loss and music. Volume is the biggest problem(this is in regards to how many times a day 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 pretty well-known irony that, when he got older, 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 when his performance was finished because he couldn’t hear the thundering applause of the audience.
Beethoven is certainly not the only example of hearing problems in musicians. In more recent times quite a few 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 amazingly similar. Being a musician means spending just about every day stuck between blaring speakers and deafening crowds. The trauma which the ears experience on a daily basis gradually leads to noticeable damage: tinnitus and hearing loss.
Not a Musician? Still a Problem
You might think that because you’re not personally a rock star or a musician, this may not apply to you. You’re not playing for huge crowds. And you’re not standing near a wall of amplifiers.
But your favorite playlist and a set of earbuds are things you do have. And that’s the problem. Thanks to the modern capabilities of earbuds, just about everyone can experience life like a musician, flooded by sound and music that are way too loud.
The ease with which you can expose yourself to detrimental and continuous sounds make this one time cliche grievance into a significant cause for concern.
So When You’re Listening to Music, How Can You Safeguard Your Ears?
As with most scenarios admitting that there’s a problem is the first step. Raising awareness can help some people (especially younger, more impressionable people) become aware that they’re putting their hearing in jeopardy. But there are other (further) steps you can take too:
- Get a volume-checking app: You are probably unaware of the actual volume of a live concert. Wherever you find yourself, the volume of your environment can be assessed with one of many free apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone. As a result, when dangerous levels are reached you will be aware of it.
- Manage your volume: Many modern smartphones will alert you when you’re going beyond healthy limits on volume. If you value your long-term hearing, you should listen to these warnings.
- Wear ear protection: When you attend a rock concert (or any kind of musical show or event), wear earplugs. They won’t really diminish your experience. But your ears will be safeguarded from further harm. (And don’t think that using hearing protection will make you uncool because it’s what the majority of your favorite musicians are doing.).
In many 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 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 reduce your damage, then, is to lessen your exposure. That can be difficult for people who work around live music. Part of the solution is hearing protection.
But all of us would be a lot better off if we just turned the volume down to sensible levels.