Musicians & Hearing Loss

Musicians & Hearing Loss

A great tragedy faces many musicians who have built their lives on sound. Although hearing protection can do a great deal to hang onto ability into the future, for many musicians some damage is already done. Many rock musicians have lost hearing ability due to noise exposure. Not only during concerts but also rehearsals and even recording sessions can expose a person to enough volume to risk hearing ability. 

For musicians, losing the ability to hear can feel like not only a lost ability to express and create, but it can also feel like a loss of identity. Currently, there is no known way to restore the tiny hairlike organelles of the inner ear called stereocilia that make hearing possible. However, hearing protection can help to preserve your hearing going forward. In addition, hearing assistive technology can bring back a musician’s ability to enjoy and experience sound in frequencies that were all but lost. 


Musicians’ Hearing Protection

Some musicians act as if hearing loss is just part of the territory, when in fact there is a lot you can do to protect yourself. At the very least, disposable foam earplugs can reduce the overall volume of an environment by 10 to 15 decibels. Many music venues offer these for sale at the bar, and one should not feel shame or stigma associated with wearing these essential tools of the trade. Particularly for musicians who are enjoying another person’s performance, earplugs are a must. 

Beyond these basic protective devices, more advanced forms of protection are available, as well. In consultation with a hearing health professional, you can get customized protective devices that are fitted to the shape of your outer ear. One of the benefits of customized earplugs is the ability to reduce particularly harmful frequencies while keeping hearing close to natural in the range of music. 

Musicians tend to love these earplugs not only because they allow you to hear music uninhibited but also because they make conversation easier. Whether at a rehearsal, recording session, or a concert, it is necessary to converse with others while protecting hearing at the same time. 


Musicians’ Hearing Assistance

In addition to protective devices, assistive devices can be particularly helpful for musicians. Once you have lost hearing in a particular frequency range of sound, hearing aids might be the only way to recapture that spectrum of sound. Particularly for those who play instruments that utilize that frequency range, hearing aids are not only a way to hear others in the ensemble but also to hear oneself. 

Violinists and violists are particularly subject to hearing damage from their instruments, due to the positioning of the instrument so close to the ear. After hours of daily practice and years of rehearsing and performing in groups, that exposure to sound can add up to a damaging experience. Once that hearing ability is lost or limited, one might feel self-conscious performing, lacking complete knowledge of the texture and pitch of sound. 

Hearing aids can step in and restore that knowledge, making it possible to perform confidently once again. Not only do you need to hear yourself playing to adjust your technique, but you also need to be able to listen and respond to the others in an ensemble with astute responsiveness. With hearing aids and protection working in tandem, you can experience the satisfaction of music performance both as a player and a listener.  

If you are a musician who has lost some hearing ability over the years of playing, you are not alone. Many household names have lost some hearing ability over the years, and they find it necessary to wear hearing aids to continue their careers. The first step is to get an accurate diagnosis of your hearing ability, particularly taking note of the range of hearing that is currently missing. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing test! 

Musicians’ Concerns with Hearing Loss

Musicians' Concerns with Hearing Loss

Are you a musician? Have you been struggling to hear the sounds you love, or having difficulty hearing all the subtleties in the music you listen to and play every day? Hearing loss among musicians is more common than you might think, since many artists and musicians have exposed their ears to dangerously loud noises for many years without realizing the risks to their hearing health.

The Magic of Music

Have you experienced the magic of music? It has the power to transport you to a favorite memory, like an amazing show you saw, your first kiss, or your first heartbreak. Music can connect you with your loved ones, change your mood, and remind you of important moments in your life. Music is also a great motivator, and we listen to an upbeat playlist at the gym, or to keep us company on the commute to work. It can even reduce stress, and a slow song can help you relax before bed. Plato famously said, “music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything,” and many of us can relate to that feeling.

Has your hearing loss come between you and the music you used to love? Hearing loss strips music of it’s full, rich sound, leaving it sounding empty or hollow, and lacking the vibrancy you enjoyed so much. While this is a heartbreaking experience for everyone, musicians with hearing loss lose their art and their livelihood as well.

Musicians’ Concerns with Hearing Loss

A recent article in the Journal of the American Academy of Audiology explained how hearing loss has a huge effect on music perception, and showed some of the concerns musicians have with hearing loss. The study examined ensemble instrumentalists who played a variety of instruments, from percussion to wind, brass, and string instruments. Musicians with hearing loss had a much harder time hearing in rehearsals, whether hearing the conductor speaking, talking with fellow musicians, or hearing their own and others’ instruments.

Not only did they have more difficulty hearing speech and communicating, they also reported far less enjoyment of the music and the performance, and complained that the music has lost it’s full, rich sound they used to enjoy so much.

Hearing Devices for Musicians

Hearing aids are designed to enhance hearing, help wearers follow speech, and reduce background noise to make it easier to focus on important sounds. Hearing aids help you communicate with your friends and loved ones, enjoy social events, and be productive at work. However, musicians with hearing loss aren’t just concerned with hearing well during family dinner. They want to hear all the subtle sounds in the environment, from the birds singing to the laugher of children, and all the soft sounds in music that give music it’s warmth, depth, and emotion.

Can hearing devices help musicians hear? Musicians with quality devices, made with musicians in mind, report that the hearing aids helped restore the overtones and undertones in the music, giving it a rich sound, and helping them enjoy the music once again. They’re able to hear the soft sounds in the music as well as the loud, and experience a balanced sound quality.

The ensemble musicians in the study also reported that wearing hearing devices not only helped them appreciate the music once again, but the hearing aids also helped them hear during rehearsals, hear instructions from the conductor, and perform better.

Hearing Consultants

If you’re a musician or a music lover, and haven’t been able to enjoy music because of your hearing loss, then visit us today at Hearing Consultants to ask about the devices that will help you hear better. From devices made for musicians, to programs and settings designed for every music lover, you’ll be able to enjoy music once again. Don’t let your hearing loss stop you from enjoying a concert by your favorite band, or give up on your career.

At Hearing Consultants, we have a number of devices with special programs that enhance music, increase the volume of soft sounds, help you hear the subtleties, provide clarity, and give music it’s full, rich sound so you’ll be able to hear music in the most natural way.