Do you crank up the volume when your favorite tune comes on the radio? Lots of people do that. There’s something intuitive about pumping up the music. And it’s enjoyable. But there’s one thing you should understand: there can also be considerable harm done.
In the past we weren’t conscious of the relationship between hearing loss and music. That has a lot to do with volume (this is in regards to how many times a day you listen and how intense 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 fairly well-known irony that, later in life, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He could only hear his compositions internally. 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 crowd.
Beethoven is definitely not the only example of hearing problems in musicians. In more recent times quite a few musicians who are widely recognized for playing at extremely loud volumes are coming forward with their stories of hearing loss.
From Eric Clapton to Neil Diamond to will.i.am, the stories all seem remarkably similar. Musicians spend a large amount of time coping with crowd noise and loud speakers. Noticeable damage including tinnitus and hearing loss will eventually be the result.
Not a Musician? Still a Problem
You may think that because you aren’t personally a rock star or a musician, this may not apply to you. You don’t have millions of adoring fans screaming at you (usually). And you’re not standing in front of a wall of amplifiers.
But you do have a pair of earbuds and your chosen playlist. And that can be a serious concern. Thanks to the modern capabilities of earbuds, nearly everyone can enjoy life like a musician, flooded by sound and music at way too high a volume.
The ease with which you can subject yourself to harmful and continuous sounds make this one time cliche complaint into a considerable cause for concern.
So When You’re Listening to Music, How Can You Safeguard Your Ears?
So, first we need to admit there’s an issue (that’s kind of always the first step, but it’s especially true in this case). Raising awareness can help some people (particularly younger, more naive people) figure out that they’re putting their hearing in danger. But there are other (further) steps you can take too:
- Wear earplugs: Use earplugs when you go to a concert or any other live music event. They won’t really lessen your experience. But they will safeguard your ears from the most severe of the injury. (And don’t think that using hearing protection will make you uncool because it’s what the majority of your favorite musicians are doing.).
- Keep your volume under control: If you exceed a safe volume your smartphone may let you know. You should adhere to these warnings if you value your long-term hearing.
- Get a volume-monitoring app: You may not realize just how loud a rock concert or music venue is. Wherever you find yourself, the volume of your environment can be assessed with one of many free apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone. In this way, when harmful levels are reached you will be aware of it.
In many ways, the math here is pretty straight forward: the more often you put your ears at risk, the more significant your hearing loss later in life could be. Eric Clapton, for instance, has completely lost his hearing. He likely wishes he started wearing earplugs a little bit sooner.
The best way to reduce your damage, then, is to limit your exposure. That can be difficult for people who work at a concert venue. Part of the solution is ear protection.
But keeping the volume at sensible levels is also a smart idea.