Playing an instrument is one of the most common pastimes because it is fun. It is a skill that can be used and enjoyed throughout your life. Some of the lucky ones even make a career out of it. However, anyone that plays an instrument, either just for fun, in a band, an orchestra, may not realize that they are at an increased risk for hearing loss. Loud noises, including music, will impair your hearing over time, and you will not recognize the differences right away and that is why it is dangerous. A ringing or buzzing in the ear called tinnitus can be caused from too much noise as well.
Instruments that can Harm Hearing
Any type of instrument can cause damage to the hearing if it is played loud enough for an extended period of time. While it is easy to think that the size of the instrument matters, it really does not. A piccolo can cause just as many noise risks as a bass drum or trombone. The peak volume of a violin is over 103 decibels, and to put this in perspective that is more than many power tools. The most damaging sounds are those of high frequency between 2000 and 4000 Hz. The highest octave of a piccolo can reach between 2048 Hz to 4000 Hz. It is estimated that 4% to 43% of classical musicians experience some type of hearing loss. The estimated number of rock musicians that experience hearing loss is 13% to 30%.
Protecting your Hearing
There are many ways a musician can reduce the noise risks of their instrument. Musicians rely heavily on the use of their hearing, which is why it is important to protect it. There are earplugs that are designed specifically for musicians to use. This is a great way to protect the ear and to prevent hearing loss. These earplugs allow the musician to hear the music that is being played still, but at a lower decibel level that is much safer for the ear.
There are several other ways to protect your hearing as a musician as well. Remember that sound travels in a straight line. This means that sounds are louder when the speaker is directly in front or behind you. Standing to the side of the speakers is a way to protect your hearing. Speakers can also be angled away from the musicians. Furthermore, it is important to take breaks while practicing in order to give your ears a chance to rest.
For any musician, remember how important your hearing is in regard to being able to continue to do what you love. This means you should take steps to protect your hearing such as moving away from the speakers, taking breaks, and wearing special earplugs for musicians to minimize potential hearing loss.