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Protecting orchestra player’s ears

"by " Albert Stein

When it comes to musicians needing to protect their hearing, the main culprits who may come to mind are usually rock stars who perform to packed sports arenas with the screeching of electric guitars and percussion for background. 

However, when it comes to preserving hearing for years to come, all musicians need to take special care, including orchestra players. According to the University of Auckland, it only takes 30 seconds of exposure to noise levels at 110-120 decibels for hearing damage to occur – levels which music concerts can easily surpass*. 

According to research cited by Reuters Health, a recent study has shown that musicians are believed to be almost one and a half times more likely to have a hearing problem than non-musicians*. They were also 3.6 times more likely to suffer from noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL)*.

A new strategy devised for the Queensland Symphony Orchestra appears to be showing some positive results, Reuters reports. A study led by University of Sydney's Ian O'Brien investigated whether they could minimise some of the noise exposure for the orchestra through the use of specially designed earplugs as well as risers or acoustic screens*.

Believed to be one of the most comprehensive studies involving members of an orchestra to date, it is hoped that it will encourage more musicians can take greater care of their hearing. 

"As the hearing of a professional musician is central to their livelihood, it is of the greatest importance that this population are able to optimally maintain this sense throughout their career," said O'Brien3.

If you're a musician interested in learning more about preserving your hearing, click here or call 1800 340 631 to book a hearing check-up with your local Audika clinic.

*University of Auckland, Hearing protection for musicians and people exposed to loud noise. Accessed May 21, 2015. Available here.

*Reuters Health, Even beautiful music may pose hearing-loss risk to pros. Accessed May 21, 2015. Available here.

*Reuters Health, How one Australian symphony orchestra protects players' ears. Accessed May 21, 2015. Available here.