Musicians’ Concerns with Hearing Loss

In Uncategorized by Laurie Duffy, M.S.

Laurie Duffy, M.S.

While everyone deserves to hear clearly, there are a few professions that require excellent hearing, and if you’re an air traffic controller, an emergency dispatcher, or anyone working in law enforcement, hearing clearly is important for everyone’s safety. Hearing is also essential in many factory and trade jobs, and if you’re unable to hear someone yell a warning, you’re far more likely to have a serious workplace accident. Another profession that relies on hearing are those working in the music industry as performers and musicians.

The Power of Music

Can you imagine a world without music? For many of us, music is a huge part of our lives, and we listen to music on the commute to work, at the gym, when walking the dog, and even when we’re having a quiet night in. Plato once said, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” Would you be able to live without music? For anyone who’s experienced hearing loss, the loss of music can be a big blow, and when you’re not hearing clearly, music loses it’s full, rich, sound, and you might choose to turn off the radio rather than listen to the thin, unbalanced sounds that used to be so beautiful.

Music has the power to change your mood, boost your emotions when you’re feeling down, reduce stress, and help you relax before bed. Live concerts are loved by all, and many of us couldn’t picture life without our favorite band. For musicians with hearing loss, struggling to hear can be a shattering experience. 

Studying Hearing Loss and Musicians

A recent qualitative study published in November 2018 in the Journal of the American Academy of Audiology looked at the effects of hearing loss on music perception, and how this impacted musicians’ ability to perform. They looked at a number of amateur ensemble instrumentalists who played instruments like percussion, wind, reed, brass, and string instruments, and asked questions about how these musicians experienced their hearing loss. Musicians with hearing loss had a much harder time hearing the conductor, participating in rehearsals, and performing well. They also had a harder time appreciating the music, and felt that they’d lost something very valuable in their lives.

Hearing Aids for Musicians

People often talk about hearing aids’ remarkable ability to improve speech understanding, even in places with a lot of competing background sounds. They help you hear at work, at family dinner, and when you’re out for your morning run. While all modern hearing aids do a fantastic job in helping you hear, far less is said about some of the subtler sounds in our environment, like the nuances of music. Do hearing aids help when it comes to music perception and appreciation, or are they preventing hearing aid wears from listening to or performing music?

Musicians report that hearing aids do help when it comes to music listening. They’re able to experience a full sound, and can hear soft sounds just as easily as louder sounds. Hearing aids also provide a vibrant sound quality with rich sound, allowing you to hear all the tones that give music it’s full sound.

Many of the ensemble musicians in this study reported that hearing aids were the most helpful during music rehearsals, since with their hearing aids they were able to hear the conductor clearly. Music rehearsals can be noisy affairs, with rustling papers, people shuffling in their chairs, or someone retuning their instrument. When you need to hear the conductor speaking, wearing a hearing aid will help reduce that background noise, focus on sounds in front of you, and enhance speech sounds so you’ll easily hear every word the conductor says and follow their directions.

HearCare Rhode Island

Whether you’re a music lover or a musician with hearing loss, visit us today at HearCare Rhode Island to find out what hearing aid options are available. Advanced hearing technology is used in all our hearing devices, and some have special programs and setting designed with musicians in mind, enhancing sound quality and clarity, allowing you to hear individual instruments and the nuances in the music, and allowing you to hear music in a natural way once again.