When it comes to music, any kind of music can be loud enough to damage your hearing and sometimes cause tinnitus. It doesn’t matter whether you like jazz, big bands, pop, or heavy metal, listening to music turned up too loud can be harmful.
So what happens when you’re a musician and you end up standing too close to the speakers on the stage for performance after performance? Just because you’re a musician doesn’t make you immune; in fact, musicians are one of the populations at risk for hearing loss and tinnitus.
The good news is that musicians, like everyone else, can protect their hearing by wearing properly fitting ear plugs on stage. If you select a pair specifically for the kind of work you do—performing in a noisy environment—you still will be able to hear and harmonize with your band and your backup singers, and you’ll protect your hearing.
will.i.am, a member of the Black Eyed Peas, suffers from tinnitus. The 35-year-old doesn’t like quiet, because that’s when he notices the ringing in his ears. So he is a workaholic, using the sound of music to help mask what he calls the “beep” in his ears.
In an interview with The Sun, will i am said “I don’t know what silence sounds like anymore. Music is the only thing which eases my pain.”
Joel Styzens is a teacher at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Several years ago he was diagnosed with tinnitus and hyperacusis (acute sensitivity to sound). His condition has ended his career as a drummer, but he has found other ways to play music and to teach.
After a period of time when Styzens felt very isolated and alone, he began a series of therapies that helped him adjust to his condition. Now he wears custom ear plugs to keep everyday sounds from being painful, and he has worked with Chicago Symphony
Orchestra cellist, Katinka Kleijn and other musicians to create an album called “Relax Your Ears.” He also spreads tinnitus awareness on his website www.relax-your-ears.com.
His hearing troubles worsened after a performance at the Superbowl XLIV halftime show.
He is almost completely deaf in his right ear.
Llars Ulrich is Metallica’s drummer. He has tinnitus and hearing loss, and has appeared on CNN’s “Health Minute” to talk about his condition and to warn children to protect their hearing from loud music.
The guitarist with the Yard Birds, Jeff Beck has severe tinnitus in his left ear. He has had to drop out of scheduled performances because what he was playing aggravated his tinnitus. He has called the noise in his head worse than “a guy scratching at a window with his nails.” Beck has pointed out that part of what is so frustrating about tinnitus is that it never goes away.
Other musicians who suffer from hearing loss and tinnitus include Barbra Streisand, Neil Young, John Entwhistle, Engelbert Humperdinck, Sting, Eric Clapton, Eric Johnson, George Harrison and Ted Nugent.