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Health and Safety

Health and Safety for the Music Students

The primary factor in your health and safety is YOU. Be responsible, make good choices and be informed. The information below outlines musician-specific health and safety issues as students and professionals pursue careers in music.

The Music Freshman Experience Course (MUS 109) covers in greater detail the maintenance of hearing and musculoskeletal health and injury prevention.

Hearing Health

Hearing health is essential to your lifelong success as a musician. Noise-induced hearing loss is largely preventable.

All music majors are provided, free of charge, with a pair of earplugs that are specifically designed for musicians. These earplugs are also available to ensemble participants as well in the general student population.

The School of Performing Arts recommends the ownership of a Personal Noise Dosimeter, or various phone or computer applications which will measure sound levels and calculate the cumulative noise dose in percentages.

The following video offers valuable information about protecting musicians’ most important asset – our hearing: Protecting your hearing.

Generally accepted maximum daily exposure times (NIOSH) to sounds at or above 85 dB are as follows:

  • 85 dB (vacuum cleaner, MP3 player at 1/3 volume) – 8 hours
  • 90 dB (blender, hair dryer) – 2 hours
  • 94 dB (MP3 player at 1/2 volume) – 1 hour
  • 100 dB (MP3 player at full volume, lawnmower) – 15 minutes
  • 110 dB (rock concert, power tools) – 2 minutes
  • 120 dB (jet planes at takeoff) – without ear protection, sound damage is almost immediate

Certain behaviors (controlling volume levels in practice and rehearsal, avoiding noisy environments, turning down the volume) reduce your risk of hearing loss. The use of earplugs and earmuffs helps to protect your hearing health. Day-to-day decisions can impact your hearing health, both now and in the future. Since sound exposure occurs in and out of school, you also need to learn more and take care of your own hearing health on a daily basis.

It is important to follow basic hearing health guidelines. It is also important to study this issue and learn more.

NASM and PAMA provide advisories and other information on the web at Advisories on Hearing Health and Advisories on Neuromusculoskeletal and Vocal Health.

If you are concerned about your personal hearing health, talk with a medical professional.

Excerpted from: “Protecting Your Hearing Health: Student Information Sheet on Noise-Induced Hearing Loss” NASM/PAMA: November 2011

Performance Health

Musicians use their bodies in specific and highly trained ways, and injuries can occur that can have lasting impact on performance ability. Performers need to be aware of vocal and musculoskeletal health issues that can affect them. Musicians at all levels of achievement can suffer from repetitive stress injuries, neuromuscular conditions or dystonias, and psychological issues including severe performance anxiety.

As health concerns can vary widely depending on performance area, your primary source of information regarding performance health and injury prevention will be your applied music instructor.

If you are concerned about your health as a musician, or are experiencing discomfort in practice or performance, talk with a medical professional.