Did you know children and teens can incur noise induced hearing loss just from being in their school band or orchestra? Volume levels measured during practices and performances well exceed safe measures. Concert band performances can average 93 dB and can cause hearing loss within 1 hour and 15 minutes of constant exposure. Marching band performances register an average of 100 dB, and damage can be caused within 15 minutes!
Hearing loss is a function of exposure time, the average sound level, and the peak level of very loud sounds. According to Etymotic Research Inc., exposure to a player's own instrument or nearby instruments can cause permanent hearing loss depending on the intensity and duration of the sound. It is also true that some people are more susceptible than others to hearing loss from high-level sound.
The human ear overloads at high sound levels, making it difficult to impossible to distinguish between different instruments. Ringing in the ears and temporary hearing loss can occur from a single concert, sporting event or sudden loud noise like a firecracker. Just as sunburn heals, but leaves permanent skin damage, temporary hearing loss recovers but there can be irreversible inner ear damage that is not seen until later in life.
We need to protect our young musicians' hearing, so they may continue their passion for music without jeopardizing their futures. Etymotic Research Inc. has developed a program called "Adopt-A-Band". This program allows businesses and individuals to "adopt" a local school band by providing hearing protection to the band members. This program educates our young musicians about the danger of excessive noise exposure.
For more information on adopting a band in your area, click here. Let's give our students the opportunity to play loudly and proudly!
~ Susan Rardin, M.A., F-AAA