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.