Do you turn up the volume when your favorite song comes on the radio? You aren’t alone. There’s something visceral about pumping up the music. And it’s enjoyable. But, here’s the situation: 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 a day you listen and how extreme the volume is). And it’s one of the reasons that lots of today’s musicians are changing their tune to protect their hearing.
Musicians And Hearing Loss
It’s a rather famous irony that, when he got older, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He could only hear his compositions internally. 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 instance of hearing issues in musicians. In more recent times many 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. Being a musician means spending nearly every day sandwiched between blaring speakers and roaring crowds. The trauma that the ears experience every day eventually results in noticeable harm: tinnitus and hearing loss.
Even if You Aren’t a Musician This Could Still be an Issue
Being someone who isn’t a rock star (at least in terms of the profession, everybody knows you’re a rock star in terms of personality), you may have a difficult time connecting this to your personal concerns. You don’t have millions of adoring fans screaming at you (usually). And you’re not standing near a wall of amplifiers.
But your favorite playlist and a pair of earbuds are things you do have. And that can be a serious problem. It’s become easy for every single one of us to experience music like rock stars do, at way too high a volume.
The ease with which you can expose yourself to harmful and constant sounds make this one time cliche grievance into a considerable cause for alarm.
So How Can You Safeguard Your Hearing While Listening to Music?
As with most situations admitting that there’s an issue is the first step. People are putting their hearing in peril and have to be made aware of it (especially more impressionable, younger people). But you also should take some other steps too:
- Use ear protection: When you go to a rock concert (or any sort of musical show or event), use earplugs. They won’t really lessen your experience. But they will protect your ears from the most harmful of the damage. (And don’t think that using hearing protection will make you uncool because it’s what most of your favorite musicians are doing.).
- Keep your volume under control: If you go above a safe listening level, your smartphone might let you know. If you value your long-term hearing, you should adhere to these warnings.
- Get a volume-monitoring app: You are probably unaware of the actual volume of a live concert. 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. This will help you keep track of what’s dangerous and what’s not.
In a lot of ways, the math here is fairly straight forward: the more often you put your ears at an increased risk, the more substantial your hearing loss later in life could be. Eric Clapton, as an example, has completely lost his hearing. If he realized this would happen, he probably would have started protecting his ears sooner.
The best way to minimize your damage, then, is to minimize your exposure. That can be challenging 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 good idea.