Recently, I posted a question online: “How diligent are you about protecting your ears?” While I expected the snarky answers, I was stunned by the misinformation in the serious responses: “I just try to listen soft.” “Don''t stand so close to cymbals.” And the classic: “Unless your ears are bleeding, it ain''t rock and roll.” It''s ironic that the same people who rely on their hearing to create music can place their hearing at risk by creating music. And once the damage is done, there''s no going back.
The good news is, noise-induced hearing loss is largely preventable. You know the basic concepts—listen at lower volume, take breaks. But you owe it to yourself to learn specifics: What''s the highest safe SPL for, say, four hours of exposure? (88dB.) How much do foam earplugs really attenuate noise? (20–35dB.) If a sound doesn''t hurt, can it damage your hearing? (Absolutely.)
Start by getting the facts: The House Ear Institute and Hearing Education Awareness for Rockers are great resources for musicians. Get a dB meter and do some tests. Remember that noise exposure doesn''t end in the studio or onstage. (I logged 100dB on a subway train.)
None of this is meant to take the fun out of making music. Just be smart, and be proactive about protection—before it''s too late.
Contact Sarah Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.