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How Can Musicians Reduce The Risk Of Hearing Disorders?

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Learn to optimally space out your instruments to avoid reverberation and high noise exposure. Rehearse at low volumes in spaces with high ceilings and sound absorbent walls. In rooms with hard reflective surfaces, place the speakers far from you. Use protective foam earplugs. Get audiometric assessments done twice a year. Indulge in noise-free rest periods between performances.

Have you been to a rock music show or a heavy metal concert? Take any musical concert and performance and most of us come home with a faint ringing sound in our ears. Can you imagine what professional musicians and those in the music industry go through?

Hearing is a very important function for musicians. However, daily exposure to high decibel music or constant music can cause significant hearing loss and disorders like tinnitus and inner ear infections among musicians, audio engineers, orchestra players, DJs, music teachers and students.

Music professionals often work in halls where the sound is amplified and this can lead to several hearing disorders. Not many musicians are aware of the risks associated with such constant exposure to sound.

Risk Of Hearing Disorders Among Musicians

Researchers studied the incidence and relative risk of hearing disorders in professional musicians during the period 2004-2008. They found that noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) was seen in 58% of classical musicians and up to 49% of rock/pop musicians.1

In June 2015, the United States National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) released a document called Workplace Solutions: Reducing The Risk Of Hearing Disorders Among Musicians. This document provides best practices for avoiding hazardous exposure to music and sounds.2

Research engineer indicates research findings which show that sound levels on stage at rock concerts and orchestra performances often exceed NIOSH recommended limit of 85 dBA. NIOSH recommends that people stay informed and educated on the hazards of exposure to sound beyond normal, healthy limits. Any workplace where sound exceeds 85 dBA should conduct annual hearing testing programs to keep it’s employees safe. Protective solutions should be identified to prevent hearing loss.3

11 Measures To Prevent Hearing Loss Among Musicians

NIOSH has also formulated a set of guidelines forĀ ear protection for musicians.45

  1. Musicians should be educated on how best to conduct practice sessions during which instruments are spaced out optimally to avoid reverberation and high noise exposure.
  2. Musicians should check out the spaces before rehearsal and the actual event.
  3. Hearing protection gear like foam earplugs should be used by the musicians and troupe.
  4. The musical workspace should be designed optimally in consultation with architects, acousticians, and sound engineers.
  5. Higher ceilings and sound absorbent materials for walls help prevent harmful reverberation.
  6. Use rooms appropriate to the size of the practicing team.
  7. Wherever there are rooms with hard, reflective surfaces, instruments and speakers should be positioned away from the musicians.
  8. Musicians and their troupes should conduct rehearsal sessions at a lower volume.
  9. Sound engineers should be instructed to adjust the volumes of speakers and amplifiers to acceptable decibels.
  10. All people working with music and sounds must get audiometric assessments and evaluations at least twice a year.
  11. After every performance, musicians and the team must give their ears a break and sufficient rest before the next round.

Musicians and those working with sounds must remember that hearing is crucial to their profession and, therefore, they need to take proactive measures to conserve their hearing and prevent hearing disorders and frequent painful infections.

References   [ + ]

1.Schink, Tania, Gunter Kreutz, Veronika Busch, Iris Pigeot, and Wolfgang Ahrens. “Incidence and relative risk of hearing disorders in professional musicians.” Occupational and environmental medicine (2014): oemed-2014.
2.Reducing The Risk Of Hearing Disorders Among Musicians, Centers For Disease Control And Prevention.
3.NIOSH Highlights Risk of Hearing Disorders among Workers in the Music Industry, AIHA, Protecting Worker Health.
4.Musicians and Hearing Loss: How To Reduce The Risks, Hear Smart.
5.Turn it Down: Reducing the Risk of Hearing Disorders Among Musicians, Centers For Disease Control And Prevention.
CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.

CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.

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