Do you turn up the volume when your favorite song comes on the radio? Many people do that. There’s something intuitive about pumping up the jam. And it’s enjoyable. But there’s one thing you should recognize: there can also be considerable damage done.
In the past we weren’t informed about the relationship between hearing loss and music. 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 many of today’s musicians are changing their tune to protect their hearing.
Hearing Loss And Musicians
It’s a rather 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 created (except in his head). There’s even one story about how the composer was conducting one of his symphonies and needed to be turned around when his performance was finished because he couldn’t hear the thundering applause of the audience.
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 well known for playing at extremely loud volumes are coming forward 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 booming crowds. The trauma which the ears experience on a daily basis eventually leads to significant damage: tinnitus and hearing loss.
Even if You Aren’t a Musician This Could Still be an Issue
You may 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 don’t have huge amplifiers behind you daily.
But you do have a pair of earbuds and your favorite playlist. And that can be a serious problem. Thanks to the modern capabilities of earbuds, just about everyone can enjoy life like a musician, inundated by sound and music that are way too loud.
The ease with which you can expose yourself to harmful and continuous sounds make this once cliche grievance into a considerable cause for alarm.
So When You’re Listening to Music, How Can You Safeguard Your Hearing?
So, first we need to admit there’s a problem (that’s kind of always the first step, but it’s especially true in this case). People are putting their hearing in peril 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-checking app: You might not realize just how loud a rock concert or music venue is. Wherever you find yourself, the volume of your environment can be measured with one of many free apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone. As a result, when harmful levels are reached you will be aware of it.
- Manage your volume: If you exceed a safe listening level, your smartphone might let you know. If you care about your long-term hearing, you should listen to these warnings.
- Wear ear protection: When you attend a rock concert (or any type of musical event or show), wear earplugs. They won’t really lessen your experience. But they will safeguard your ears from the worst of the damage. (Incidentally, wearing ear protection is what the majority of your favorite musicians are currently doing to safeguard their hearing, so even the cool kids are doing it).
It’s pretty straight forward math: the more often you put your ears at risk, the more substantial your hearing loss later in life could be. Eric Clapton, for instance, has completely lost his hearing. If he realized this would happen, he probably would have begun protecting his hearing sooner.
The best way to lessen your damage, then, is to reduce your exposure. That can be tricky for people who work around live music. Part of the strategy is hearing protection.
But turning the volume down to practical levels is also a smart idea.