Hearing damage is a real problem that most people tend to overlook.
According to the World Health Organization, the growing rates of hearing loss across the globe need to be fixed with safer listening strategies for the reduction of exposure to loud sounds in recreational settings.
How can we enjoy listening to loud music but keep our ears healthy at the same time? The dilemma is true for music consumers and music creators alike.
Turning down the volume on your headphones or using really great earplugs could work easily for an audience member or even a musician.
Still, musicians need to plan a bit harder when it comes to how they should protect their ears in loud environments like festivals, studios, and clubs.
When you're on stage singing, you need to be able to still hear the music and hear yourself well when you dampen the sound hitting your eardrums.
It's a bit of a challenge, but I want to share some tips on how I make it work when I sing and need protection.
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The most simple yet least effective way to go about it is to use basic foam earplugs to dampen the sound.
Foam earplugs will likely make your voice really loud and clear to yourself, so it will be tricky to hear other instruments depending on how loud everyone is around you.
If the music is extremely and dangerously loud, you may be able to hear it well enough over the sound of your own voice to stay in tune.
The trick for foam earplugs for singing is finding some with an NRR (noise reduction rating) of less than 30 decibels.
Anything over 30 dB may reduce the sound of the music around you too much and cause you to sing out of key with the instrumentation. You can also try using these but not sticking them as far into your ear as you would typically do.
Foam earplugs are the best option for when you're doing multiple rehearsals and don't need to look your best.
Clunky foam hanging out of your ear while on stage for the actual show may not be a good look, but it's a good way to protect your ears while practicing.
So much time goes into practicing as a musician, but so much risk is present if you constantly rehearse in a noisy environment.
Noise-canceling earplugs are a go-to for musicians and festival audience members who often surround themselves with loud music.
These earplugs usually have an NRR rating closer to 25, making it easier to enjoy the noise, and they give your ears some protection at the same time. This is a great product for rehearsals and performances if you're a singer.
Noise-canceling headphones like these also have a much better look and feel to them.
They are often hard to see unless you are really close to someone wearing them, and they offer different sizes that can mold to your ear for maximum comfort.
They will obviously cost a bit more than foam earplugs, but they are reusable and very much worth it!
If you're looking to protect your ears from loud noise and the weather, earmuffs may be the way to go. There are two different types of earmuffs you can go for to help lessen the number of decibels your ears are exposed to.
More modern earmuffs have clear noise reduction technology that is useful for loud environments and has an NRR rating. You can find a few that have a rating close to 25 or less in order to not dampen the sound too much as a singer.
You could also go for more traditional earmuffs, mainly used to protect against the elements. While these don't usually come with an NRR rating or any details on the number of decibels it can reduce for you, the higher-fitting ones often muffle the sound a bit.
This could be a perfect way to get what could be estimated at around a rating of 10 to 15 NRR and provide a thin yet effective layer of protection that allows you to hear well simultaneously.
When a singer is wearing an in-ear monitor, the earpiece is directly giving them what they prefer to hear in their ear. Most singers prefer to hear themselves, but they may also prefer to hear the piano feed, or the background vocalists feed along with their feed, etc.
It's really up to the singer, but it often beats holding your ear when you can do as you please with a handy monitor doing the work for you.
Many well known-in ear monitor brands also include a layer of noise reduction within the technology of the device.
This form of protection will be able to block 35+ decibels in order to protect your ears while at the same time feeding you the sounds you need to stay in key. While this will likely be your most costly option, it may be the smartest choice!
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Take regular breaks: Give your ears some time to recover after being exposed to loud music. Take short breaks during rehearsals or performances to give your ears a rest and prevent overexposure to loud sounds.
Use a sound meter app: Consider using a sound meter app on your smartphone to monitor the noise levels around you. This can help you gauge when the sound is too loud and take necessary precautions to protect your ears.
Adjust the volume levels: If you have control over the sound system, make sure to adjust the volume levels appropriately. Aim for a balance where you can hear the music and yourself clearly without it being excessively loud.
Invest in custom-molded earplugs: Custom-molded earplugs are designed specifically for your ears, providing a comfortable fit and better protection. They can be more expensive, but offer superior sound quality and are a worthwhile investment if you perform regularly.
Practice good vocal technique: You can reduce the strain on your voice and minimize the need to sing louder to hear yourself. This can prevent vocal fatigue and the temptation to increase the volume, protecting your vocal health and reducing the risk of hearing damage.
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 300 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!
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