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The Risks Associated with Being a Professional Musician
musicians suffer hearing loss. It’s a taboo subject among musicians and very
few dare to discuss the matter for fear of losing their place in the band.
A professional musician, or an amateur, who practices and plays music for 4 hours or more per day is at risk of developing hearing loss.
Sound affects hearing according to its intensity and the duration of exposure. Musical sounds, as harmonious as they are, can cause irreparable damage to our hearing if we are exposed to them for too long and at a high intensity. Professional and amateur musicians know this all too well, given that they are immersed in this type of sound environment day after day.
Hearing loss in musicians is the result of a prolonged exposure to high-pitched sound. Think of the over-amplified guitar sounds of a hard rock band, or the high-pitched notes emitted by a violin or a piccolo in a symphony orchestra.
In reality, it is hardly surprising that music can cause such harm to the ear. In fact, the acoustic pressure of a large symphony orchestra can reach 112 dB. For a rock band, it can climb to 130 dB, which is much greater than acceptable norms in the industry.
Musicians’ Main Hearing Issues
For musicians who are regularly exposed to this type of noise, the resulting impact on hearing can have catastrophic consequences:
- Losing the ability to hear high-pitched sounds poses serious problems for musicians, as they must obviously hear what they are playing. Often, when a musician presents with high-frequency hearing loss, they will try to compensate by playing these notes louder, which will affect the quality of the music they play.
- The musician can suffer from other anomalies as well, such as hyperacusis, which is hypersensitivity or pain in reaction to loud sounds. This can lead to an increase in blood pressure, headaches or even fatigue.
- They can also suffer from diplacusis. This issue presents as hearing a sound, which is perceived differently from one ear to the other. This is very disturbing when trying to play in tune.
- Finally, tinnitus can manifest itself in musicians as a whistling sound or rumbling in the ears. Sometimes this is temporary, but it can be permanent.
Effective Preventive Measures
It is vital for musicians to manage their practice, concert and rest periods, in order to allow their ears to have time to recover.
A Hearing Aid Acoustician can also help you. It is very important to use hearing protection specifically designed for musicians. These earplugs are custom made, with varying degrees of sound reduction. The sound reduction filters are chosen based on the instrument played.
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