Hearing Loss in Classical Musicians

Dr. Maria Wynens, Au.D.Blog-post, Sound AdviceLeave a Comment

classic music wallpaper
Dr. Maria Wynens, Au.D.
Latest posts by Dr. Maria Wynens, Au.D. (see all)

Hearing Loss in Classical Musicians

How many of the nearly 400 million people worldwide today dealing with hearing loss are classical musicians? It’s really hard to say, but as you’ll see in this article the numbers are likely to be a bit higher than you might think. Let’s get into this issue right away.

The Devastating Numbers

Now, at major music shows, rock shows, or large European trance festivals nearly all the musicians and their crew have modern hearing protection devices at all times. It’s par for the course due to the extreme volume. Not to mention the way the speakers are positioned away from the performers as well. But how about in the classical music world?

Well, according to an in-depth study out of Australia done by PhD Ian O’Brian only a meager 18% of classical musicians protect their precious and delicate ear drums. Typically, during these shows there’s a large variety of instruments in use vs. 3 to 5 for rock shows!

Let’s Look at the Horn Players

Aside from the drums, horn and trumpet players produce some pretty loud sounds. The study looked at 142 professional French Horn players and found that between 17% to a whopping 33% showed signs of noise-induced hearing loss or NIHL. Isn’t that stunning? And that’s only a small pool of the global classical musicians out there, to say nothing of the horn and trumpet players.

Why? Well, because only 20% of these folks use hearing protection devices. Then, to make things worse, of those who do wear hearing protection only a tiny portion keep them on during an entire performance. Remember, these dedicated musicians practice upwards of 21-48 hours a week at decibels as high as 81-90. So we’re talking heavy exposure over years of time.

The Catch-22 of Their Situation

Most of them believe, and rightly so, that ear plugs in their ears will have a negative influence on their performance, but so will hearing loss. Okay, so the catch-22 is clear. But, what’s sad is that the technology exists today to both protect their hearing and INCREASE the value of the sound they hear.

What’s needed here is a bit more education in the classical music world that lets these performers and artists know that they have more options than cheap generic ear plugs. Speaking of which, if you would like to know more you can check out the full study which was published in ‘The Journal of Occupation and Environmental Hygiene.”

Protect Your Most Valuable Asset

While there are a number of completely deaf musicians in the world, most of the ones who can hear would agree that their ear drums are indispensable. Yet they shell out huge amounts of cash on their instruments, clothes and gear but then either don’t both investing in hearing protection or simply don’t know they can.

If you’re a classical musician concerned about the future of your hearing, and how it will influence your career in the industry please contact me. I can show you all your available options and make sure you’re thoroughly informed.

[box]NEED SOUND ADVICE? CALL DR. WYNENS AT 404-277-8208. Or reach us by email at drwynens@safeguardhearing.com[/box]

Leave a Reply