If you’ve seen a lot of live gigs, chances are you’ve seen some musicians wearing ear plugs. Why is this? And should you be wearing them when you’re doing live gigs of your own? This is what we’ll look at today, so have a read and be sure to put what you learn into practice. You’ll see why this is as the article goes on.
The Main Reason Musicians Wear Earplugs During Gigs
Many regularly gigging musicians wear ear plugs for one simple reason: To protect their ears! While this might not seem like a ‘must do’ task to begin with, let me assure you that it is.
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As well as your voice and / or hands being vital in terms of you making music, your ears are also a very important tool. You use them to hear what kinds of sounds you’re making, and you use them to judge what is and isn’t worthy of releasing to your growing number of fans. That said, in the same way you can damage your voice, you can also damage your ears.
You see, being around a lot of loud music can effect your hearing, and can eventually give you tinnitus. In short, tinnitus is a ‘ringing or buzzing in the ears’. While this doesn’t sounds like that much of a problem, is really can be. I know, as I’ve got it.
Mine was caused by performing gigs, hosting radio shows, and attending other people’s events and parties. The end result was a bad case of tinnitus, and a constant ringing in my ears day and night. While it wasn’t always apparent during the day, when night time came and there was no other sounds around, I was often kept awake for hours with what sounded like alarms ringing loudly in my ears. Not cool.
While I’ve gotten used to it now and don’t even notice it a lot of the time (Although annoying I still do at times), for a year or so it was a very serious problem. As you can guess, as I wasn’t getting much sleep. This lack of sleep and stress soon also started to affect other areas of my life and health.
The things is, there is no cure for tinnitus. It’s because of this that you should make sure you protect your ears from any damaging levels of noise.
While one option is to stay away from loud noise all together, my guess is you can’t do that if you’re trying to make it as a full time musician. The other option, is to get ear plugs which can help cancel out a lot of the harmful frequencies which would do damage to your ears.
How Earplugs Help Gigging Musicians Protect Their Hearing
While many musicians are more initially concerned with getting more CD sales, earplugs at important too, as they can help protect your ears from harmful levels of noise. They are designed to do this without hindering your ability to hear, as of course you need to hear what you’re doing to make good music.
Although these earplug will help filter out harmful noise, they still allow you to hear your voice clearly. This can make it easier for you to perform, especially in noisy venues where your voice may have otherwise been drowned out. Excessive noise drowned out, your voice as loud as it needs to be. Nice.
The more you protect your ears during live gigs, the less likely it is you’ll damage your ears in the longrun.
What Should Your Look For When Buying Earplugs?
Different types of ear plugs perform differently. Some will block out different amounts of noise, some will be clearer then others. But how do you know which ones are right for you? Well, here are some things you should take into consideration when picking out your ideal pair:
- They block out enough harmful sounds.
As this is the core function of earplugs, this would seem obvious. Remember though, that different earplugs block out different levels of noise. The level of protection you need will vary with what your use for them are, but I suggest you go with a protection level of at least 19dB. This is largely referred to as medium protection; you can get higher if you require. You can also get lower, but in most situations 19dB is the lowest you should probably go.
- They don’t hinder your ability to hear important things.
The aim is to weaken potentially harmful levels of noise, not completely stop you hearing things. After all, you’ll still want to hear if you’re performing well enough. Luckily, most earplugs designed for musicians don’t hinder your ability to hear your own voice. This is great, as you can sometimes drown out the background noise to an extent, and be able to hear your vocals a lot clearer.
- They are discreet.
While wearing bright pink earplugs aren’t a problem if you’re using them to help you sleep better, when you’re on stage, chances are you won’t want people to easily see something sticking out of your ears. Thankfully, there is the option to buy ‘clear’ earplugs which aren’t usually easy to spot or distracting from your performance. Go for these where possible.
- They are a comfortable fit.
Ears come in all shapes and sizes, as do ear plugs. A lot of packs come with a few different sizes to fit different people, but be sure to check yours does too so you’re not left with earplugs which are too big or too small.
While this isn’t talked about a lot, I truly believe wearing ear plugs during gigs and anywhere with loud levels of music is important. You can’t replace you ears, so it’s important you keep them healthy and free from tinnitus and other kids of damage. I wish I had received this kind of advice before I got tinnitus, so hopefully you take it on board and protect your ears.