Symphonic Musicians and Hearing Loss
Schmidt et al (2014) evaluated musicians from five Danish symphony orchestras in 2009 and 2010. The authors reported on 394 total musicians, of whom 337 musicians filled in the questionnaires. Audiometric measures were obtained from 212 musicians. Of those, 182 musicians (363 ears) results were analyzed with respect to sound exposure as well as mean thresholds at 3k, 4k and 6k.
Perhaps unexpectedly, the majority of musicians had better hearing at 3k, 4k, and 6k than would have been predicted based on age. The authors stated (in general) the most significant noise-related threshold changes were found at 3k and 4k. However, trumpet players and the left ears of the first violinists demonstrated hearing thresholds that were significantly elevated, which was not surprising based on their (average) sound exposure which was described as 90 dB for 41 years.
The authors concluded that “most of the symphony orchestra musicians had better hearing than expected but they had a work-related risk of developing additional noise induced hearing loss.” The authors recommend hearing protection devices (HPDs) as well as careful planning of repertoires and practice time to help reduce the sound exposure of symphonic musicians.
For More Information, Recommendations, and References
Beck DL. (2014) Issues and Considerations Regarding Musicians, Music, Hearing, and Listening. Hearing Review.
Beck DL, Bhatari A. (2012) Musicians, Hearing Care Professionals, and Neuroscientists. Hearing Review.
Schmidt JH, Pedersen ER, Paarup HM, Christensen-Dalsgaard J, Andersen T, Poulsen T, Baelum J. (2014) Hearing Loss in Relation to Sound Exposure of Professional Symphony Orchestra Musicians. Ear & Hearing 35(4):448–460.