The most valuable instrument a musician possesses is their hearing. This instrument, nevertheless, can be jeopardised due to musicians' many years of music exposure.
In an audiological study, head audiologist Dr. Sargunam Sivaraj conducted hearing tests, measured music exposure and studied the progression of hearing loss in orchestral musicians over periods as long as 20 years.
The study found that more than 60% of all the orchestral musicians aged 27-66 had hearing loss, as well as 22% of those aged 18-38 and 16% of child musicians aged 8-12.
The study therefore shows that increased years of music exposure cause progressive hearing loss in significant numbers of individual musicians.
Furthermore, the study confirms that this “trend” of progressive hearing loss is observed in all age groups of musicians.
Strong vs. weak ears
This means that more than 60% of adult, orchestral musicians are breaking their best instrument - their hearing.
Nevertheless, Dr. Sargunam Sivaraj says that hearing loss is not specific to loud musical instruments or musicians with many years of exposure.
Some people have “stronger/harder ears” while others have “weaker/tender” ears with marked hearing loss after short-term music exposure.
The audiological study was performed by Dr. Sargunam Sivaraj from the Capital and Coast District Health Board in New Zealand as part of his Massey University PhD research.