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November 15, 2016

Two out of five classical orchestral musicians are hearing impaired

Two out of five musicians have hearing loss and three out of four suffer from varying degrees of tinnitus, a Norwegian study finds.

Two out of five classical orchestral musicians are hearing impaired

A study conducted in one of the largest classical orchestras in Norway found that hearing impairment is a significant problem for 43.6% of the musicians. The study also found that 76.9% of the musicians experience tinnitus of varying frequencies. The results stress the fact that it is not only musicians in the genres of rock and pop who are at risk of damaging their hearing.

The dark side of music

Classical music is something most people can enjoy without experiencing discomfort. But behind the music we enjoy, there is a dark side.

“For many classical orchestral musicians, their daily work is characterized by a large number of hours of training which produces a noise level exceeding the recommended noise limit of 85dB,” says Magne Nyvoll Temte, who conducted the study as a part of his thesis at the University of Oslo, Norway.

The study did not investigate which instrument groups have the highest risk of noise-induced hearing problems, but if you are seated right in front of the brass section or the percussionists you might be more at risk than others.

Alarming results

The hearing problems incurred by musicians may ultimately affect their career, which makes the results of the study very alarming. The study also found that 82.1% of the participants experienced pain after an interplay with the orchestra and that 76.9% are exposed to sound sensitivity. Despite knowledge of noise-induced hearing loss, only very few of the musicians were consistent with the use of earplugs.

“The results are alarming due to the fact that a gradually progressing hearing loss cannot be reversed. Once you’ve lost part of your hearing, you’ve lost it for good,” Temte concludes.  

Source: Din Hørsel 02 2016

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