We live in a noisy world. We are surrounded by loud sounds, some pleasant and some not. We might be thrilled by the sound of a marching band, a rock combo, or a samba ensemble. Alternatively, we might be startled by the sudden crash of construction equipment or screeching traffic noise. We must be aware that prolonged exposure to loud sounds of any kind can cause permanent hearing damage. In some cases, even brief exposure to very loud sounds can cause hearing loss.
As musicians, we must do everything possible to protect our hearing. If music or any other loud sound hurts your ears, causes ringing in your ears, or leaves you with a dull feeling in your ears, you must protect your hearing either by leaving the area or by wearing ear plugs. Soft foam ear plugs are inexpensive and readily available at drug stores and music stores. You can also get custom-fitted musician’s ear plugs that allow the music to sound more natural than it does with foam ear plugs.
Almost all amplified concert music is too loud to listen to without ear plugs, unless you are far from the stage. Power tools, lawn mowers, or other loud engines also require hearing protection. You must be alert and think ahead when you are going somewhere that might be noisy. Take ear plugs with you any time you think you might be exposed to loud sounds.
Another potential cause of hearing loss is listening to an MP3 player or smartphone through headphones or earbuds. It is very easy to gradually increase the volume without being aware that the sound is at a dangerous level. It is especially dangerous to listen through headphones or earbuds in a loud environment, such as a bus or airplane, because the sound around you is already so loud that you must turn up the volume to a dangerous level just to hear the music at all. Avoid using headphones or earbuds in a loud environment, unless your headphones or earbuds have noise-cancellation.
Be smart. Protect your hearing and you will greatly increase your chances of enjoying music for your entire life.