Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for Hearing

I've been both a musician and a music lover for most of my life.  I've attended my share of extremely loud concerts, stood in front of towers of Marshall stacks and had my entire body be vibrated by walls of sound.  I've played in multiple kinds of bands and organizations and have spent many years playing marching band and marching band style music.

As any doctor would tell you, repeated exposure to loud sounds, such as the concerts I have attended or playing in band gigs and rehearsals will result in permanent hearing damage.  I have been concerned that I have already suffered hearing loss from my musical endeavors.  I've directly observed in others the difficulties presented by other symptoms such as tinnitus, and ultimately I knew I would need to take some preventative action to maintain what hearing capabilities I have.

As it turns out, LSJUMB (Stanford's band) periodically offers its members the opportunity to purchase professionally and individually fitted ear plugs, bringing in a specialist to do the fittings.  This time around, my schedule permitted me to be able to participate, and I was able to use my new earplugs at tonight's LSJUMB rehearsal for the first time.

All I can say is, what a difference professional earplugs make.  The volume of sound was dramatically reduced, but not to the point where I could not hear myself or the musicians near me.  The only difficulty I noticed during rehearsal was in hearing the toobz during parts where the full band was playing over the far distance from where I was standing with the tenrz.  I'm thinking that's a limitation that I can live with if it results in better longevity of ear health.  

One of the biggest surprises that awaited me was after rehearsal when I took off my earplugs, and realized that my ears didn't have that typical "stuffy" feeling like after going to a concert.  I didn't have to raise the volume of the radio any higher than normal on the way home.  I'd call the earplugs experience a rousing success.

I would implore any musicians or any people who go to loud concerts and events to strongly consider getting fitted earplugs.  Your hearing is a valuable commodity that once lost or damaged cannot be regained or repaired.  Earplugs like the ones I got can be used in such a way that they do not impede your musician abilities.  There are no excuses any more.  Take care of your hearing.

1 comment:

  1. I know I have significant hearing loss from loud music. I used to blast it in my headphones. I used headphones when I worked in radio. I've been to TONS of concerts, and I'd cup my hands behind my ears at Dead shows to make it louder. Now I find myself saying, 'What?' every time someone talks to me.