When your favorite tune comes on the radio, do you find yourself turning the volume up? You aren’t on your own. There’s something intuitive about pumping up the music. And it’s something you can really enjoy. But there’s one thing you should recognize: there can also be appreciable damage done.
In the past we weren’t conscious of the relationship between music and hearing loss. That has a lot to do with volume (this is based on how many times daily you listen and how excessive the volume is). And it’s one of the reasons that countless of today’s musicians are changing their tune to save their hearing.
Hearing Loss And Musicians
It’s a rather well-known irony that, later in life, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He couldn’t hear any of the pieces he created (except in his head). On one occasion he even needed to be turned around so he could see the thunderous applause of his audience because he couldn’t hear it.
Beethoven might be the first and most famous example of the deaf musician, but he surely isn’t the last. In more recent times lots of musicians who are well known 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 coping with crowd noise and loud speakers. The trauma which the ears experience on a daily basis gradually leads to significant damage: tinnitus and hearing loss.
Even if You Aren’t a Musician This Could Still be 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 hard time connecting this to your personal concerns. You don’t have millions of adoring fans screaming at you (usually). And you don’t have huge amplifiers behind you daily.
But your favorite playlist and a set of earbuds are things you do have. And that can be a serious concern. It’s become effortless for each one of us to experience music like rock stars do, way too loud.
The ease with which you can expose yourself to detrimental and constant sounds make this once cliche complaint into a considerable cause for worry.
So How Can You Safeguard Your Hearing When Listening to Music?
As with most situations admitting that there’s an issue is the first step. Raising awareness will help some people (particularly younger, more impressionable people) become aware that they’re putting their hearing in jeopardy. But there are other (further) steps you can take too:
- Keep your volume in check: If you go above a safe volume your smartphone may let you know. If you value your long-term hearing, you should listen to these warnings.
- Get a volume-monitoring app: You may not comprehend just how loud a rock concert or music venue is. Wherever you are, the volume of your environment can be assessed with one of several free apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone. This can help you keep track of what’s dangerous and what’s not.
- Wear ear protection: Put in earplugs when you attend a concert or any other live music event. Your experience won’t be diminished by using ear plugs. But they will safeguard your ears from the worst of the injury. (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).
In many ways, the math here is quite simple: you will have more significant hearing loss in the future the more you put your hearing at risk. Eric Clapton, as an example, has entirely lost his hearing. If he realized this would happen, he probably would have started protecting his ears sooner.
Limiting exposure, then, is the best way to limit damage. That can be difficult for individuals who work at a concert venue. Part of the strategy is ear protection.
But turning the volume down to sensible levels is also a smart idea.