Hearing Health

If you’re serious about pursuing a career in music, you need to protect your hearing. The way you hear music, the way you recognize and differentiate pitch, the way you play music; all are directly connected to your hearing. Protect it, you won’t regret it!

Audiology Information

BASIC PROTECTION FOR MUSICIANS

Evaluating Your Risk for Hearing Loss

When evaluating your risk for hearing loss, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How frequently am I exposed to noises and sounds above 85 decibels?
  2. What can I do to limit my exposure to such loud noises and sounds?
  3. What personal behaviors and practices increase my risk of hearing loss?
  4. How can I be proactive in protecting my hearing and the hearing of those around me? 

To learn about how to protect your hearing and evaluate your risks for hearing damage, download the Mead Witter School of Music’s Protect Your Hearing Everyday handout!

AUDIOLOGY EXAMS AND EVALUATIONS

UW Speech and Hearing Clinic (UWSHC) 

The UWSHC offers a custom evaluation and hearing loss prevention package for musicians.  The musician’s hearing evaluation includes evaluation of hearing at inter-octave frequencies, otoacoustic emission testing, and assessment of change in hearing if previous tests are available.  The hearing conservation package includes an individualized consultation about hearing conservation in a music environment as well as the selection and fitting of custom musician’s (“concert”) earplugs.  This program is offered at a discounted price to students in the UW-Madison School of Music.  The UWSHC also provides the hearing evaluations for all University of Wisconsin–Madison employees enrolled in the university’s hearing conservation program.

Performing Arts Medicine – Audiology Department

Audiologists with UW Health in Madison, Wisconsin, collaborate with ear, nose and throat physicians (otolaryngologists) to evaluate and treat adults and children with hearing impairment and balance disorders.

Hearing Protection Options

earplug recommendation chart[1]

Musicians practice and perform in a variety of different settings. They are exposed to high levels of sound, sometimes for long periods and may require different amounts of protection depending on sound levels encountered during rehearsals and performance. Some musicians use one type of attenuator in one ear and one type in the other, depending on the source and location of the sound.

Etymotic Research, Inc. is one company that designs hearing protection specifically for musicians.    A recommendation chart for their ear plugs is shown below.  More information can be found on their website at  http://www.etymotic.com/

REDUCING THE RISK OF HEARING DISORDERS AMONG MUSICIANS

A study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Musicians and others involved in the music industry are at risk of developing permanent hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and other hearing disorders from exposure to loud sounds.  The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) examines the risks associated with music exposure and provides recommendations to protect their hearing.