Memo to musicians: You can’t listen if you can’t hear

There’s few things worse than developing hearing loss if you are a musician. Your ears are a vital yet intricately fragile tool…

Noise-induced hearing loss is the permanent result of repeated exposure to high sound pressure levels. Not surprisingly, studies show musicians, exposed to prolonged levels of loud sound by profession, suffer more noise-induced hearing loss than the general population.

Fortunately, this kind of induced hearing loss can be prevented. Here are some things you can do to keep your ears healthy and your hearing sharp:

  1. Be aware of the potential risks to your hearing. Awareness really is half the battle. Once you’re aware of the risks to your hearing, taking precautions will come naturally.
  2. Give your ears a rest by taking short breaks. If the ear is given time to rest (typically 16 to 48 hours of relative quiet after exposure) your ears recover back to baseline hearing. Go outside or move to a quieter area for short breaks if you’re performing in a noisy venue.
  3. Listen safe. You shouldn’t listen to music, at 85 decibels for more than 8 hours at a time. An iPhone at it’s loudest is around 110 decibels. Turn it down. Louder was never the answer.
  4. Invest in ear plugs.  Ear plugs are inexpensive and they are a critical defense against noise induced hearing loss. You can even get unique plugs custom fitted to your ears.
  5. Always try to increase the distance between you and the sound source. If you are near an amp or noisy speaker, position yourself at an angle from the source–not in front of it. This small change can have a significant impact on your hearing health.
  6. Be aware of changes in your hearing, just as you would changes in your general health. Keep an eye on your ears, basically.
  7. Take the Mimi hearing test. Most musicians don’t detect the early stages of hearing loss until it’s too late. A test can help address problems before they become critical.

Be kind to your ears. As a musician, you have no more precious sense.