Do you turn the volume up when your favorite song comes on the radio? You aren’t on your own. When you pump up the music, you can feel it in your gut. And it’s something you can truly take pleasure in. But there’s one thing you should understand: it can also cause some appreciable harm.
The relationship between hearing loss and music is closer than we previously understood. That has a lot to do with volume (this is based on how many times daily you listen and how extreme the volume is). And many musicians are rethinking how they approach coping with the volume of their music.
Hearing Loss And Musicians
It’s a pretty famous irony that, later in life, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He was only able to hear his compositions in his head. There’s even one story about how the composer was conducting one of his symphonies and had to be turned around at the end of the performance because he was unable to hear the thundering applause of the audience.
Beethoven might be the first and most well-known example of the deaf musician, but he definitely isn’t the last. In more recent times lots of musicians who are widely recognized for playing at extremely loud volumes are coming forth with their stories of hearing loss.
From Eric Clapton to Neil Diamond to will.i.am, the stories all sound remarkably similar. Being a musician means spending almost every day stuck between blaring speakers and booming crowds. The trauma that the ears experience every day gradually leads to significant harm: hearing loss and tinnitus.
Even if You’re Not a Musician This Could Still be a Problem
Being someone who isn’t a rock star (at least when it comes to the profession, we all know you’re a rock star in terms of personality), you might have a hard time relating this to your personal worries. You’re not performing for large crowds. 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 there’s the problem. Thanks to the contemporary capabilities of earbuds, just about everyone can experience life like a musician, inundated by sound and music that are way too loud.
This one little thing can now become a substantial problem.
So When You’re Listening to Music, How Can You Protect Your Ears?
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). Raising awareness will help some people (especially younger, more naive people) figure out that they’re putting their hearing in danger. But you also should take some other steps too:
- Download a volume-monitoring app: You may not comprehend just how loud a rock concert or music venue is. It can be beneficial to download one of several free apps that will give you a volume measurement of your environment. This will help you keep track of what’s dangerous and what’s not.
- Wear ear protection: Put in earplugs when you go to a concert or any other live music show. Your experience won’t be diminished by using ear protection. But your ears will be safeguarded from additional harm. (And don’t assume that using hearing protection will make you uncool because it’s what most of your favorite musicians are doing.).
- Keep your volume under control: Some modern smartphones will let you know when you’re going beyond healthy limits on volume. If you value your long-term hearing, you should listen to these warnings.
It’s rather straight forward math: the more often you put your ears at an increased risk, the more extensive your hearing loss later in life could be. Eric Clapton, as an example, has entirely 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 minimize your exposure. For musicians (and for people who happen to work around live music), that can be difficult. Ear protection might supply part of an answer there.
But everybody would be a lot better off if we simply turned down the volume to practical levels.