Do you use ear protection when you play? If so, what kind, and how frequently do you use it?
This topic came up in a recent discussion thread from a member who has started practicing with earplugs, due to hearing loss.
It is a serious topic, and we play an instrument that sits right next to the ear, making a rather piercing sound. Violinists can also experience situations in performance where the surrounding decibels get to damaging levels - whether it is from sitting in proximity to a piccolo or horn or drums in a large orchestra, playing an amplified pops concert or being in a band.
Long ago, I had myself fitted for musician earplugs from etymotic - they attenuate the sounds so I can hear myself play, without having damaging levels of sound exposure. I use them on a pretty frequent basis for particularly loud orchestra concerts.
But you don't need fancy musician earplugs to derive a good amount of protection - foam earplugs do block out the decibels pretty effectively. They just also make it hard to hear yourself play!
If you are practicing by yourself and the main problem is the sound of your own instrument, then a heavy practice mute might do the trick, without needing earplugs.
Do you have a way of reducing the decibels and protecting your ears, when playing? Is it something you do frequently? Or have you never felt the need to use ear protection? Please participate in the vote and then share your experiences in the comments section.
Thanks to Jim Hastings for this weekend vote idea. If you have an idea for the weekend vote, please e-mail me. I welcome your ideas!
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