I was going to write a blog post about the potential dangers to your hearing of loud music, especially at gigs. And then a post appeared about that very topic on one of the many music related websites that I follow.
The writer has said many of the things that I would have included myself, including mention of the varying cost of ear protection. Yes, you can pay for personal moulded ear plugs, which obviously come in at the higher end of the price scale. Or, you can do what I did and find some reasonably priced, but still very good alternative options online.
Whatever option you choose and you really should choose one, it will certainly pay dividends in the end.
Like most people who have attended many years of loud gigs, I have Tinnitus (a ringing, hissing or similar senasation in one, or both ears). I am one of the lucky ones though, in that mine isn’t too bad. I know of musicians and gig goers for whom Tinnitus can be quite debilitating and once you have it, the chances are it’s then there for life.
And don’t go thinking that Tinnitus is something that affects only older gig goers like myself. I was recently talking to an 18 year old musician who is already suffering from a permanent ringing in the ears, due to playing and attending loud gigs.
Another misconception and something that was touched upon on in the blog post above, is that ear plugs ruin the whole gig going experience. I’m sure that might be true if you buy the wrong ones, but the better quality options will only reduce the volume, not the quality of the sound.
I’m not suggesting that we should all go acoustic and unplugged. Rock music needs to be played loud, if only to piss off the people who don’t like it. You can’t expect it to be played quietly, but that doesn’t mean that you should permanently damage your hearing through your enjoyment of that music.
Some forward thinking venues even provide ear plugs for their staff and customers, which can only be a good thing. I was at Rock City in Nottingham recently and there were boxes of free ear plugs next to the stage door. It would be good to see more venues doing the same kind of thing.
It’s never too early, or too late to start wearing ear protection and it’s certainly not un-cool to do so. I’ve no doubt there are many people out there who now wish they’d worn them in the past.
As Joni Mitchell sang “You don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone”.