As musicians, we generally rely on our hearing — to monitor what we’re playing, to keep in tune and to keep in time with others. Not to mention, of course, the pleasure from listening to others.
But can we rely on always being able to hear as well as we can now? As we age, our hearing does become less keen, and this is part of a natural process. But we can also damage our hearing, through exposure to noise, and this damage may be irreversible.
While as musicians we might not think of our own efforts as ‘noise’ (or maybe we would!) but exposure to high levels of sound and/or exposure for long periods can cause permanent damage. There have been a number of high-profile cases where professional musicians have suffered severe hearing loss — not just amongst those playing amplified music but also amongst orchestral musicians.
West Norfolk Music Centre can now offer its members the opportunity to purchase earplugs which are specially designed for musicians. Unlike general-purpose earplugs, they reduce the volume of the music while keeping the sound as natural as possible.
We would encourage all members to consider whether they would benefit from hearing protection. In particular, those who play drums and percussion, and those who are exposed to louder instruments (do you sit in front of the trombones in the orchestra or band?) are encouraged to try ear plugs. Or, if you attend loud amplified concerts or gigs, try them — if you’ve ever had the ‘ringing in the ears’ sensation after a gig, it’s a sign of hearing damage.
Ask at our desk, and we can explain what is available — for less than the cost of a single music lesson.