As a musician, the most important thing you have is your hearing.
These days hearing loss is common – young people in their twenties are already having significant damage to their hearing. And a hundred years ago, we weren’t having this much hearing loss.
So here’s my list of 9 things which damage hearing. These are daily activities which I avoid on a daily basis.
#1. In-Ear Headphones.
In-Ear Headphones have become the norm for earphones these days. They come with every smartphone and every mp3 player.
I once met someone who worked at the BBC, where he gave hearing tests to the people who worked there. He told me that he could always tell if someone listened to music on these in-ear headphones. He said there was just a certain type of damage or hearing loss in certain places.
So personally, I never listen to music on these in-ear headphones. What I do use is outer ear headphones – which allow the sound to escape.
#2. Buffeting Wind
Be cautious of winding the windows down when you’re driving, especially on a freeway, especially at high speeds. This is known to damage your hearing.
Personally, I love driving with the windows down – but I’ll limit it to five or ten minutes max. And I certainly wouldn’t do a long road trip with the windows down, because this buffeting damages your hearing.
And if you have a drop top car, these are especially bad because the whole trip you’re exposed to all of this wind noise.
#3. Prescription Medications
There is a long list of over 200 prescription drugs, which are commonly prescribed to patients, which damage your hearing.
So the take away from this is to read up on any drug that you’re prescribed, and to talk with your doctor about your concerns over preserving your hearing
#4. Smoking / Fast Food
Smoking is known to damage hearing, and the reason (as I understand it) is that anything that clogs the arteries, or interferes with the blood that has to flow to the very tiny hairs on your eardrum, then that over time will lead to hearing loss.
So this includes junk food too – since this also clogs that blood flow and stops it from getting to the hairs on your eardrum.
#5. Your Own Instrument
That’s right – musical instruments are actually very loud (nearly all instruments).
This is obvious for certain instruments – like percussion and drums. However, it’s also true for violin, brass instruments, and even piano.
So when I play piano, I tend to hold down the left pedal (the damper pedal which just makes the notes quieter). And I’m always monitoring how loud the instrument is.
So if your instrument is on the loud side, consider using a mute. If you’re a violin player, you can use a mute, or a brass player, you can use a mute. Because most of the time, when you practice your instrument it doesn’t need to be loud. You might just be practicing technique, scales or arpeggios.
I’m referring to most man-made machinery – electric drills, electric saws, power tools. If I’m going to do any of these things, I’ll always put in earplugs.
But this also includes things like vacuuming, or mowing the lawn – again, I’ll put in earplugs for these activities.
Police sirens, ambulance sirens, fire engine sirens – whenever I hear a siren coming down the street, I’ll put my fingers in my ears. I’ve been doing this for 15 years, it’s no big deal. Your hearing is very important, and these sirens are too loud for human hearing.
#8. Impacts To The Head
This applies to sports which cause impacts to the head – Boxing, American Football, Martial Arts.
Any strikes to the head can potentially dislocate the tiny little bones in your eardrum.
#9. Loud Music / Public Venues
Most public venues – bars, nightclubs, concerts and even movie theaters these days – the norm is to crank up the music way too loud for human hearing.
So as a musician, you have to take control of the situation and take your own ear protection when you’re going to these venues.
Now let’s take a look at what I use for ear protection. This isn’t a promotion of these products, there’s many other options out there – this is just what I’ve used for the last 15 years, and the main point here is just that you get something.
So I carry two types of ear protection with me:
- Doc’s Proplugs: These are NOT for complete ear protection. All these do is take off about 10 – 15 decibels, while allowing you to hear quite clearly. I’ll wear these anytime it’s slightly loud, but I still need to hear – like at a bar (when I want to hear the conversation) or during a band rehearsal (where it’s loud but I still need to hear the music clearly). Doc’s Proplugs cost about $15, they come in a range of sizes (but the ‘medium’ size fits me perfectly) and they can be ordered online.
- Standard Ear Plugs: The other ear protection I carry is just the generic type of earplugs which you can find in any large store. I wear these when it’s loud and I don’t need to hear anything – like vacuuming, mowing the lawn, using power tools, etc.
23 Things Which Damage Hearing
If you want to learn more I’ve put together an extended ebook for you (free).
In The Ear Protection Guide you’ll discover 23 things that damage hearing – and you can download that at the link below: