When your favorite song comes on the radio, do you find yourself turning the volume up? Lots of people do that. When you pump up the music, you can feel it in your gut. And it’s something you can really take pleasure in. But there’s one thing you should recognize: it can also cause some considerable damage.
In the past we weren’t informed about the relationship between music and hearing loss. That has a lot to do with volume (this is in regards to how many times each day you listen and how intense the volume is). And it’s one of the reasons that lots of today’s musicians are changing their tune to save their hearing.
Hearing Loss And Musicians
It’s a rather famous irony that, later in life, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He couldn’t hear any of the pieces he composed (except in his head). There’s even one narrative 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 might be the first and most famous example of the deaf musician, but he surely isn’t the last. In fact, a far more recent generation of rock musicians, all famous for cranking their speakers (and performances) up to 11–have begun to go public with their personal hearing loss experiences.
From Neil Diamond to Eric Clapton to will.i.am, the stories all sound amazingly similar. Being a musician means spending nearly every day sandwiched between blaring speakers and booming crowds. Noticeable damage including hearing loss and tinnitus will ultimately be the result.
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, everybody knows you’re a rock star in terms of personality), you may have a hard time relating this to your own concerns. You’re not performing for huge crowds. And you don’t have huge amplifiers behind you daily.
But you do have a set of earbuds and your chosen playlist. And that can be a serious problem. It’s become effortless for every single one of us to experience music like rock stars do, way too loud.
This one little thing can now become a substantial issue.
So When You’re Listening to Music, How Can You Protect Your Hearing?
So, the first step is that we admit there’s an issue (that’s kind of always the first step, but it’s particularly true in this case). Raising awareness can help some people (particularly younger, more naive people) become aware that they’re putting their hearing in jeopardy. But you also need to take some other steps too:
- Use earplugs: When you go to a rock concert (or any kind of musical event or show), wear hearing protection. They won’t really lessen your experience. But they will protect your ears from the worst of the damage. (By the way, wearing earplugs is what most of your favorite musicians are currently doing to protect their hearing, so even the cool kids are doing it).
- Control your volume: Many modern smartphones will let you know when you’re going beyond safe limits on volume. You should adhere to these warnings if you care about your long-term hearing.
- Get a volume-checking app: You are probably not aware of the actual volume of a rock concert. It can be helpful to download one of several free apps that will give you a volume measurement of the space you’re in. As a result, when harmful levels are reached you will be aware of it.
It’s fairly simple math: you will have more severe hearing loss later on the more often you put your hearing at risk. Eric Clapton, for instance, has entirely lost his hearing. If he realized this would happen, he probably would have begun protecting his hearing sooner.
Reducing exposure, then, is the best way to reduce damage. That can be tricky for people who work at a concert venue. Ear protection could offer part of a solution there.
But turning the volume down to reasonable levels is also a smart idea.