When your favorite song comes on the radio, do you find yourself cranking up the volume? Lots of people do that. There’s something intuitive about pumping up the music. And it’s something you can really enjoy. But there’s one thing you should know: it can also result in some considerable harm.
In the past we weren’t conscious of the relationship between music and hearing loss. Volume is the biggest concern(this is in regards to how many times daily you listen and how intense the volume is). And many musicians are rethinking how they approach dealing with the volume of their music.
Hearing Loss And Musicians
It’s a rather famous irony that, when he got older, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He could only hear his compositions internally. There’s even one story about how the composer was conducting one of his symphonies and needed to be turned around when his performance was finished because he was unable to hear the thundering applause of the audience.
Beethoven is certainly not the only instance of hearing problems in musicians. Indeed, a far more recent generation of rock musicians, all famous for cranking their speakers (and performances) up to 11–have begun to go public with their personal hearing loss experiences.
From Eric Clapton to Neil Diamond to will.i.am, the stories all sound remarkably similar. Musicians spend a huge amount of time coping with crowd noise and loud speakers. The trauma that the ears experience on a daily basis eventually results in significant damage: tinnitus and hearing loss.
Even if You Aren’t a Musician This Could Still be a Problem
You might think that because you aren’t personally a rock star or a musician, this might not apply to you. You don’t have millions of adoring fans screaming for you (usually). And you don’t have massive amplifiers behind you every day.
But your favorite playlist and a pair of earbuds are things you do have. And that can be a serious problem. It’s become easy for each one of us to experience music like rock stars do, at way too high a volume.
This one little thing can now become a real problem.
So How Can You Protect Your Ears When Listening to Music?
As with most scenarios admitting that there’s an issue is the first step. Raising awareness can help some people (especially younger, more impressionable people) become aware that they’re putting their hearing in danger. But you also should take some other steps too:
- Manage your volume: Many modern smartphones will let you know when you’re going beyond safe limits on volume. If you value your long-term hearing, you should listen to these warnings.
- Download a volume-monitoring app: You are probably unaware of the actual volume of a live concert. Wherever you are, the volume of your environment can be measured with one of several free apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone. As a result, when harmful levels are reached you will know it.
- Wear ear protection: When you go to a rock concert (or any kind of musical event or show), use hearing protection. Your experience won’t be diminished by using ear plugs. But they will protect your ears from the most harmful of the damage. (And don’t assume that using hearing protection will make you uncool because it’s what most of your favorite musicians are doing.).
It’s rather simple math: the more often you put your ears at an increased risk, the more extensive your hearing loss could be later in life. Eric Clapton, for instance, has completely lost his hearing. If he realized this would happen, he probably would have started protecting his hearing sooner.
The best way to reduce your damage, then, is to minimize your exposure. For musicians (and for people who happen to work at music venues), that can be a challenge. Ear protection may offer part of an answer there.
But keeping the volume at practical levels is also a smart idea.