Britain's Ministry of Defence has ordered its bandsmen to wear earplugs to conform with health and safety laws, writes BBC News.
All military musicians will now be required to wear earplugs before playing their noisy instruments to protect their hearing. Some bandsmen are however concerned that this could impair their performance, making them play out of tune or out of time.
The ruling applies to all members of Corps of Army Music in Britain.
Lieutenant Colonel Bob Meldrum, principal director of music for the Army, admitted that performing music whilst wearing hearing protection was "not without its challenges", but he said the rule was there to protect Service musicians from noise-induced hearing loss. Noise is one of the main reasons for hearing loss.
Many musical instruments can reach volumes in excess of 100dB - the equivalent of a pneumatic drill at close range - and could damage hearing over time.
The RNID, a British organization for people with hearing loss and deaf people, said it fully backed the move.
Emma Harrison of the RNID said there were a range of earplugs that filtered rather than muffled sound enabling musicians to play safely with the music still clearly audible.
"We know from research how important it is to protect your hearing from loud noise.
"Many musicians who don't use earplugs are putting their hearing at risk because they are playing very loud music for long periods of time.
"Even if your hearing is not permanently affected, the way your brain processes sound may be changed which could result in tinnitus," she said.
Daily exposure to noise
Daily exposure to noise is directly related to the risk of hearing damage. Many countries recommend a daily exposure to noise of less than 85 dB. Noise exposure is measured in such a way that 85 dB (A) represents twice the exposure of 82 dB (A).
The following sound levels constitute a daily exposure to noise of 85 dB:
- 85 dB (A) for eight hours
- 88 dB (A) for four hours
- 91 dB (A) for two hours
Most earplugs reduce noise by 20 to 30 dB.