Hearing loss and violin playing

September 30, 2006 at 06:15 AM · Does anyone know if violin playing can cause hearing loss? I, for one, have once in a brief while definitely felt that my left ear was affected for about a day after playing very loud pieces with many high notes.

It would seem that every soloist of our older generation would be deaf by now. Are they hiding it?!


Replies (100)

September 30, 2006 at 06:47 AM · Daniel, don't mess with such matters but go see an ENT as soon as possible. I've never heard of an unquestionable causal link between playing and losing hearing. However, logic dictates that even if everyone in the world had never heard of hearing loss being caused by playing it would NOT follow that such a thing were impossible. For all one knows, you might be the first.

But before you panic, or worry about hearing loss, go see a doctor about this. I remember a truly unsatisfactory concert I gave recently because my left ear had given out the day of the performance. A transatlantic flight, or tiredness, or an unfortunate shower accident (water in the ear canal?) or any combination might have been to blame. And for that day, I was terrified that my whole professional life might be about to end.

It didn't. The ear cleared up. And I'm sure yours will, too. But don't put yourself through the terror my own cowardice (I'm frankly afraid of doctors) put me through. Go see one and I'm sure he or she will assuage your fears and either tell you that you're not suffering hearing loss or that if - God forbid - you are, what to do to reverse it.

Best of luck to you!

September 30, 2006 at 10:47 AM · I agree with Emil on his post above. I'm also afraid of doctors, and I actually went to medical school! Just make sure you see your family physician or an audiologist before seeing an ENT, as that specialty mainly focuses on surgical corrective work that you likely don't need. Nowadays, modern medical insurance practice usually wants a patient to get a referral from a primary care provider before seeing a specialist.

Different people have different thresholds of hearing. A few months ago, there was a good post on this issue featuring the great advice of knowledgeable violinist.com doctors like Anthony Barletta, MD. In response, I upgraded my left earplug from a 22/30 rating to a full foam earplug. Plus, my new violin is much more powerful than my 1800 Joannes Gagliano - and that Gagliano was already hard on my hearing. Now I play and practice with that earplug in most of the time, and I've gotten used to it.

Hearing loss creeps up on violinists. The doctor wife of one of my older teachers took her husband to a hearing test and found out that he had some hearing loss in his left ear. I strongly suspect that if you tested many of the older generation violinists, one would indeed find varying levels of hearing loss.

September 30, 2006 at 02:55 PM · I've been thinking about this alot lately too. An audiologist should be the first step but I'm seriously thinking about getting a set of these:


A friend of mine who plays amplified in large venues (1,000 to 10,000) uses the 15db saying the 25s were too much. I was thinking the 9db might be just enough for acoustic performances.

Has anyone else tried these or have recommendations?

September 30, 2006 at 03:10 PM · Several years ago, when I played/practiced more than I do now, I noticed that the E string was making my head hurt. It wasn't just from listening to myself, it was also from listening to other people play really high on the E string (so I don't think it was primarily my intonation).

I'm playing violin again now after a gap in playing, and I'm not noticing any pain from the E string anymore, but at the time the idea definitely crossed my mind that my ears and/or brain were objecting somehow to the really high pitches. I even switched to viola for a while in part because of this.

September 30, 2006 at 03:17 PM · I'm the expert on this. I flew jets for TWA for 35 years. Military and other planes before that. I now wear two hearing aids. The damage came not from the jet engines, but from the air noise going over the cockpit. Triple Forte. fff. Hisssssshhhhh. The copilot and I yell at each other to be heard over the racket. The newer planes, 757/767, are quiet inside, not the ones I flew until the 757/767's came along.I'm 64 and have been flying since age 14. Now we have earplugs to wear in the cockpit or orchestra. ALL the professional brass players I know in major orchestras wear earplugs.

If your hearing goes and you have to have hearing aids make sure the audiologist understands you are a musician and have to play music with aids. Most hearing aids shut down when you play because the sense a very loud noise, namely, the violin. A violin played softly is loud to a hearing aid. The louder you play the less you hear. Don't get a hearing aid that doesn't have a program in it for muusicians.

Make sure the higher frequencies are available. Without the high frequencies the instrument sounds weird and playing in tune is a challenge.

If it comes to that, don't worry. A lot of professional players use hearing aids. It does not mean you're old. No one cares if you have one or two. The stigma isn't there anymore.

But, yes, playing a violin can damage your ears over time.

Trust me, if you have to go that route it's not the end of the world musically as a career.

September 30, 2006 at 03:52 PM · i heard that violin practice rates at about 85-120dB, sustained exposure to sounds of 95dB or more can lead to hearing loss.

Some precautions, such as ear plugs, but also, where possible, rest your ears. if you practice for three hours, try to have 6 hours of minimum noise. If possible, if you do an orchestral concert, let the next day be a complete rest day for your ears.

mind you, this advice was given to me by a non-musician, so it's not always practical. But if you can get a good nights sleep, and not have the radio on, that should help.

September 30, 2006 at 05:01 PM · Dear Kevin,

This is just a message apropos your comment that an ENT might not be the first man for the job in helping anyone deal with potential hearing loss. I don't know the ins and outs of the byzantine world of medical insurance, and you may be right that insurance companies are so stingy that they require a first visit to be with some GP rather than a specialist. But, in terms of an ENT's appropriateness for this job, I would say you couldn't do any better. My father is an ENT (out in south dakota, so there's really no chance he would financially gain from this, all you cynics), and although he is a surgeon in this capacity as well, his surgeries usually encompass such things as tonsilectomies and what-not. In terms of hearing loss, the first suggestion is almost ALWAYS to try a hearing aid.

I doubt that any ENT would advise surgery just because he feels like "gettin' down and dirty" that day. ENT's make practiced decisions based on years of, well, practice and their training in medical school. Certainly a lot of what doctors do is guesswork, but it's educated guesswork, and I wouldn't let the prospect of surgery scare anyone away from the person who's best for the job.

September 30, 2006 at 08:38 PM · Hey guys,

Actually, this is not hearing loss that I experienced, per se. It is actually a feeling of the ear being sensitive - like it's been hearing lots of loud noises - I think it's called "Temporary Threshold Shift".

A very close relative of mine is actually an ENT and I've talked to him about this. This is certainly not something that will affect my immediate hearing, but he is more concerned about my (and all other violin and orchestral player's) long term auditory health. My post was more about the older generation and those who have played for decades.

I was thinking that if every once in a while we play loud pieces and practice them over time, this must affect us.

What is for sure is that after people go to loud rock concerts (and possibly play hours very loudly and high on the violin), they might feel that their ears "sensitive". This is what I felt. If the volume is even louder, the ears will have a ringing sensation.


September 30, 2006 at 09:16 PM · My ears get sensitive, particularly my left one. It sounds like an old electric radio crackling in my left ear and feels that way too.

Sometimes even wearing a 22, I can still feel the violin buzzing through. Today I got myself a 27, though I'm still aware that 30 is the best. The 30 guarantees me full protection from the physical buzzing.

On amplified stage, the 22s were really not enough. I'll probably wear 27s or 30s this season. For sure, 27s are more than enough for me in a chamber setting.

October 1, 2006 at 12:05 AM · Hearing loss in the left ear of violinists is common.

I have it, even though I only played a lot until I was 18 years old.


October 1, 2006 at 03:41 PM · No you can't suffer hearing loss lol..Unless you have an electric violin and you amp it up to a really high volume that you blow your ear drums out of its sockets

October 1, 2006 at 05:57 PM · Put a decibel meter next to your left ear when playing loudly, then compare the reading with OSHA sustained noise levels permissible for work environments.


October 1, 2006 at 06:04 PM · Rafe,

It concerns me that the concept tickles your funny bone. I suggest typing "loud music hearing loss" into your favorite search engine.


October 1, 2006 at 07:30 PM · I am pleased to see that other people are also concerned about the prospect of losing hearing from violin playing.

I reckon that resting the ears is very important as Ben said, and also being smart while practicing eg. not reapeatedly practicing FF passages FF.

I obtained a set of the custom-fitted earplugs with ER15 filters a few years ago (when I was about 13 or 14). Unfortunately, when in use, I find it difficult to hear if I am playing nicely in tune as I cannot hear clearly whether or not the other strings are vibrating in a complementary way. When I take the plugs out after using them for a while and then continue to play, my playing sounds rougher and messier. Although it sounds nice and pleasant while using them, I fear for the quality of my practice with the plugs in.

More recently I have aquired a large metal practice mute which I find slightly easier to use than the earplugs (though not so good for playing in an orchestra;-). Maybe the 9dB filters would be better but I have sort of given up on the earplugs for the moment.


October 2, 2006 at 01:22 AM · I appoligize if my comment offended anyone=(

I'm pretty sure playing the violin doesn't affect your hearing..I mean going to see a live rock concert has to be worse for your ears;)

October 2, 2006 at 01:59 AM · Rafe,

I must be in a foul mood because I'm doing my best not to explode. Please educate yourself before pontificating on public forums. If you find you have nothing to contribute, don't. Silence beats misinformation any day.

October 2, 2006 at 04:06 AM · Anthony,

My doctor knows about the phenomenon of "violinist ear" and has told me about it, but even he shakes his head in disbelief a bit when talking about it.. I mean, who knew?? Also, keep in mind that this forum is all about people's opinions, beliefs etc. If this were truly a forum just for facts and experts, none of us would be posting on this thread, since nobody here is a doctor... So, go take a very cold shower and leave Rafe alone.

October 2, 2006 at 03:57 AM · At least I feel better now..

October 2, 2006 at 03:58 AM · Good, Rafe... I mean, it's not obvious that a little violin could do so much damage, right? Anyway, unless Anthony is a doctor himself, then by his rules, he has as little right to comment as we do.

October 2, 2006 at 04:07 AM · Anyway, all of you should check your facts before yelling at other folks... Anthony, please cite even ONE bit of evidence or research that shows that the violin ALONE (i.e. not played in a noisy orchestra) makes you go deaf. Otherwise, take your own advice and "please educate yourself before pontificating on public forums".

October 2, 2006 at 04:35 AM · You win, Howard, the shower worked wonders. I assure you my homework has been adequate, but that doesn't give me the right to attack Rafe's opinion, or anyone elses. Rafe, I apologize for getting carried away. In my opinion the medical evidence is compelling. I leave it to interested parties to investigate for themselves.

October 2, 2006 at 05:26 AM · Rock musicians dont tend to experience the hearing loss that orchestral musicians do because of two things -

1. They realise because it can be loud, they are already wearing protection.

2. Most rock music is bass heavy, where as it's the high frequencies that help with losing the hearing. The people in rock music who lose their hearing most often are drummers, because of the cymbals, and more often, the snare.

In orchestras, you not only receive high noise levels, but also high frequencies, and it's that, combined with the fact that most musicians don't take preventative actions, that leads to a higher chance of hearing loss.

October 2, 2006 at 11:56 AM ·

"But it (hearing loss)can also result from the violin or the piccolo flute of a symphony orchestra.......But according to an article in "The Hearing Review", February 1999, by otolaryngolist Ken Einhorn, up to 52 % of classical musicians and up to 30 % of rock or pop musicians suffer from music-induced hearing loss - in short MIHL.

It is hardly surprising that musicians suffer hearing damage while on the job. The sound pressure of a large concert orchestra can go up to 112 dB - ."



"Many people don't realize that sounds produced by common musical instruments, such as the acoustic piano, violin, and flute, can produce severe hearing damage."



A few moments ago, I had no difficulty generating a sustained 94 decibels on a sound level meter, measured at about the distance of the left ear from the violin ("A" weighted and averaged, for those interested).

Compare this with the "Maximum Exposure Time" in the table in the above article.



October 2, 2006 at 12:07 PM · Professional surdity is simlar to presbyacusis i.e hearing losss due to old age.

I a a first stage the loss is about 30 dB and affects high frequencies(4OOO Hz)

in a second stage the loss is more important (70db) and sligth loss on lower frequency then the third stage affects all frquencies.

The difference between professionnal surdity and presbyacusis is the age of course but also the possibility of recovering at the early stage so the tempory loss is a simple fatigue but if the noise source goes on the loss becomes permanent.

2 factors are to be considered , noise >75db and exposure duration(> 8 hours)

October 2, 2006 at 12:51 PM · I too have measured mid-'90s (decibels) on an A-scale. Bear in mind that this is done by taking the microphone probe of the sound meter and holding it right next to the ear, with the axis of the probe horizontal and pointing towards the violin bridge.

From a sound sampling point, this is a non-optimum arrangement but it is the best you can do in the circumstances.

On an a scale, I only made the mid 90s on the e string, which of course makes sense, as the a scale is desensitized below 400 Hz.

I find that I cannot always tolerate the loudness of the violin on my left ear, and so I have some musician's earlpugs for reducing the levels. I also find that a steel e string is much harsher and louder than a plain gut e, but I haven't measured the difference and so it may merely be psychoacoustical rather than actual.

The first jam session I went to, I noticed afterwards that I had experienced excessive levels. So now I either wear the plugs or I stand back:-)

The problem of statistically accounting for "violinists ear" is complicated by the fact that in the U.S. (and pretty much everywhere except britain) the driver of an auto is on the left, and so wind noise is also a significant influence on left ear condition.

October 2, 2006 at 02:50 PM · The quality of violin, bow, and even performer factor greatly into the amount of hearing loss a violinist can experience from playing alone.

Different people have different hearing thresholds. I listen to my stereo really low, and I also find most symphony orchestra concerts too loud. I also live in the country, where the ambient noise level is much lower than that in the city. That's why I ALWAYS wear my earplugs when practicing alone now.

I'm constantly practicing things like Paganini Caprices that go all over the violin. Plus, I've got GOOD instruments. Also, I practice several hours a day, usually no less than 3 after one adds up all the minutes that I spend playing.

When I was younger, I had lesser instruments and less time to practice. I didn't have any trouble with my ears then. But as I got older and upgraded my instruments, things got rougher and rougher.

It doesn't surprise me that the eminent maker David Burgess - who I've played a violin by and came away impressed with - talks first hand about the damaging effect a GOOD violin can have on one's ears.

I deal with trying to avoid violinist induced hearing loss and tinnitus every time I pick up the violn. That's also why I agree 100% with Dr. Anthony Barletta in NOT blowing off violin-induced hearing loss. It's actually irresponsible NOT to cite the medical evidence, as there are people out there like me who have sensitive ears that they want to protect.

October 2, 2006 at 04:07 PM · Oops... I owe Anthony a big and public apology... He has indeed done his homework since he is a doctor! So now instead of shouting "prove it!", I meakly ask (in a small, squeaky and hopefully humble sounding voice) could you please tell us more about hearing loss in violinists and classical musicians in general? Also, what IS the deal with "decreased pain threshold" in folks who have some hearing loss? Should we be wearing ear protection when we play at home? Last but not least, can you point us in the direction of more information on this subject?

Gotta go now... my cold shower awaits me.

October 2, 2006 at 04:08 PM · Some ways I've dealt with what I felt were overly loud conditions-

I never practice in a room that's too live, for example,a room with wood floors and nothing on the walls. I try to wear some sort of hearing protection when I go loud places, like rock concerts and loud bars. I also use foam earplugs,cut in half so I can still hear myself, when I have to sit next to the flutes. You can adjust them by "sealing" them more or less in the ear depending on the amount of noise you have to contend with. The flesh colored ones can't be seen from the audience.

October 2, 2006 at 04:40 PM · Thanks Kevin, your free toaster is in the mail. ;-)


October 2, 2006 at 06:08 PM · I'm not sure this is related....but it has to do with the ear and playing, and is a real issue for me, so...

Sometimes when I play the violin, my left ear buzzes. It isn't a ringing, or a pain, but more of a vibration of the fluids in the ear. It is something that comes and goes. I know it is fluid related, because practicing directly after a shower is really impossible. The problem is that it sometimes happens on stage, or I have to stop practicing because I can't hear myself and to ignore the buzzing is beyond my capabilities. Also, it is only certain notes that cause it most of the time, unless it is unusually bad. You know those "ringing" tones taht are louder than the rest on the instrument (I believe due to the overtone series and harmonic/open string relationships, but whatever).

It would seem that there is a very simple solution to this. Drain your ears after a shower like after swimming by lying one one side or the other, right? Doesn't work. I have tried over the counter solutions which are supposed to dry out your ear. I have swiped them out with q-tips. I am scared to do much more than that, though, because one year right before a recital I got too frustrated with it and made my ear bleed with a q-tip. It ended up not being serious (went to dr. after the recital), but he did warn me about sticking things in my ear.

I've also tried some home-made herbal/essential oil preparations. They are not effective either. When I asked my doctor what could be causing the vibration/fluid problem, and only when I play?

Allergies. I've been taking medication for allergies anyway, so I take a decongestant before I play and don't know yet if this works.

I have hearing loss in my left ear (tested), but not substantial, and not related to the buzzing problem.

Ear plugs haven't been working for a number of reasons. I can't seem to play effectively with them in, and for the same reason that I can't wear those headphones that you place in your ear...they don't fit. Just fall right out. Trying to play in orchestra with just one earplug in is disconcerting in many ways...get dizzy, the varying input gives me a headache, and more importantly, I still don't hear accurately. The balance between what I hear of myself and what I hear of the orchestra is so strange that I can't concentrate.

So...is that why people buy special earplugs for musicians? Are they constructed differently than regular earplugs (or using toilette paper in your ears...). How much do effective ones cost and where do you buy them?

Sensitivity to loudness or certain frequencies I think can be present without damage. I've always listened to music quietly, with greater ability to hear all the parts and understand it better. The louder it is, the less I can really hear of it and the more it becomes noise.

I also quite often underestimate how loud I am playing, especially when I'm playing with piano.

All of this is on the violin. The viola does not have this problem. Sometimes my whole head vibrates,but that is just because of contact. So the high frequencies and volume/proximity to our precious little ear-cilia...must play into our hearing over time in some way!

Well. That's enough for now. Verbose today.


Jennifer Warren

October 2, 2006 at 06:52 PM · You can get two pairs of custom fitted earplugs for between 100 and 200 dollars, depending on the type. Low-attenuation plugs (for music) are more expensive than high-attenuation ones, due to the construction.

October 2, 2006 at 07:41 PM · I am very sensitive to loud noises, lightning, fast jets, explosion noises like fireworks and guns (or children's balloons) really make me jump.

For some reason though, I don't find the noise from my violin uncomfortable at all. And I've found my violin to be louder than many violins I've played.

I think part of it could be how you hold the violin. People who slant their heads with their ear nearer the violin probably get it worse than people (like me most of the time) who hold their heads more upright while playing.

A professor where I'm studying has suffered from hearing loss which he claims is a result of practising violin for long periods of time when he was younger.

I plug one of my ears if we're playing a loud symphonic piece in the orchestra, because I am quite near the percussion and the flutes. When I am practising, though, I find it distracting, and something like trying to drive a car with one eye covered (you lose all depth perception).

I feel that one should not forget that a largish percentage of the population DOES suffer hearing loss due to many different reasons, and I know so many musicians whose hearing was fine their whole lives, and so many other people who never played any instruments but got devastating hearing loss, that I feel that just maybe only half the hard of hearing musicians got that way from their instruments. They would have gone deaf without the instrument too.

That's just my feeling from what I've observed.

October 3, 2006 at 10:19 AM · Sorry Jennifer but I have to disagree with you.The Ringing tone(tinnitus)and fluid running sensation are related to your slight hearing loss and are signs of a start of alteration of your internal ear.You must be careful not to expose yourself to loud sounds. Three branches heavy mute might be useful for long period of work

Q-tips are prohibited since they push cerumen and may lead to total obstruction of the external meatus.

October 4, 2006 at 02:29 AM · But I don't have tinnitis, or ringing. Just buzzing when I play, the vibration of the fluid. Is that the same thing?

I know q-tips are a no-no. I now only use them in the outer part of the ear. My doc said if it is smaller than your pinky finger, don't put it in your ear. Have some solutions that are supposed to work, but anyway.

q-tips in the nose are great for sinus congestion and boogers.

Thanks for the info Alain. Do you think the buzzing is related to possible hearing loss, or just allergies and fluid?


Jennifer Warren

October 4, 2006 at 04:35 AM · Greetings,

you should go and see a specialist too. In Chinese Traditional Medicine the condition of the ears is strongly linked to the condition of the kidneys. It is wise to nurture the kidneys through chi exercises and eating wakame. The worst foods you can eat for your ear codntion right now are eggs and dairy products. In particular avoid ice cream. Then cut down on extremes , especially coffee.



October 4, 2006 at 03:29 PM · Thanks, Buri. I've never heard of the ears being connected to the kidneys, but with certain other medical things that are now chronic, that makes a lot of sense. I've been doing a lot of alternative medicine, my favourite being reflexology (my husband is getting fairly good at locating spots on the feet and grinding them down, but he refers to it as a foot massage). What is wakame? I recently also went back to my vegetarian ways, because going on meat didn't have the desired effect after a year of trying, so...

If the health of the kidneys are related to the health of your ears, what is your bladder health related to? Curious.

I am actually down on the coffee since our last communications. Still have a cup in the morning, but not the 12-20 cups (depending on what a cup is) on average I was consuming a year and a half ago. Bodies rebel against that eventually.

I know my father had a set of professional earplugs in a leather case, probably for his work tuning pianos and his playing, not sure. I'll see if someone can find them for me.

This thread is quite enlightening!



October 4, 2006 at 08:56 PM · Greetings,

wakame is a kind if seaweed,



October 5, 2006 at 12:16 AM · Man, why couldn't it be donuts that sharpen the hearing instead of seaweed?

October 5, 2006 at 12:20 AM · Greetings,

what`s wrong with seaweed flavored donuts?



October 5, 2006 at 01:43 AM · Donut-flavored seaweed...

October 5, 2006 at 01:41 PM · Is that something I can pick up at the local Kroger in the produce department (or bakery! He he). Where does one find wakeme?


October 5, 2006 at 04:22 PM · Hey, seaweed is delicious! I know it sounds gross, but really it is great! Just try a nice marinated seaweed salad at any good sushi restaurant. You'll see.


October 5, 2006 at 04:21 PM · Hi Jennifer,

I have to apology for not answering earlier but the web was down in paris.

Allergy is a possible cause of hearing loss but it rather affects low frequencies sound.I can't be sure through post that your hearing problem is due to an alteration of your internal ear but since playing high note trigger off a nasty sound I advise you to be careful. An audiogramm would be useful

Best regards

October 5, 2006 at 07:16 PM · Ok, now I have to agree even more with Anthony. If you have a medical problem, go see a doctor, not some mambo stick waving pseudo-shaman. Although, one time I DID notice a yellow discharge from my ears, so maybe my kidneys ARE connected to my ears.

October 5, 2006 at 08:51 PM · Alternative medicines, depending on the specialty and situation, are just as viable as Western medicine. Nor is Western Medicine the cure-all for everything.

Today, licensed specialists in alternative medicine render all sorts of relief for all sorts of people. Many knowledgeable people use it in conjunction with Western medicine, and there are Western medical doctors who are very well versed in alternative medicine. If it didn't work, there wouldn't be a whole industry devoted to it.

In many ways, the Western vs. alternative medicine debate is similar to the classical violn vs. fiddle debate. Increasingly the lines are becoming blurred.

October 5, 2006 at 10:42 PM · Greetings,

don"t think there has been aby references to pseudo shamans or advice not to seek qualified treatment. Nonetheless. Traditional Chinese edicine is everybit as legitimate as western and those who, even lightheartedly, reject it out of hand often lose a lot.

The idea that all parts of the body interact with each other has filtered through into the practice of western trained doctors in many cases. It is not uncommon for practitioners to study such things as acupuncture. Its interesitng that violnists here have repeatedly mentioned that specific technique as helpful across a variety of problems. They would, of course, be spouting absolute nonsense if no connection existed between all parts of the body.That is exactly how acupuncture works.

Incidentally Jennifer, as an alternative to seaweed, you could eat lots and lots of black sesame seeds. I put a couple of teaspoons in the oil when I am frying things for starters.Very powerful tonic for the kidneys



Sorry Kevin. Didn`t catch your excellent post so repeated ratehr mroe crudely. This case is especially interesting in my opinion, because -western-treatemtn of ear infections in the US has been extremely well documented by medicla journals and medical insitutions as a complete cock up. Drs indiscriminately prescribing unnecssary antibiotics to young children and screwing up their immune styems leading to progressivvly more ear infections. Not to mention the problem of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria build up by this travesty.

Incidnetlaly, to larger percentage of the worlds population the the US, TMC is not not mainstream. In Japan going for such tereatment is alsmot as common as the western kind. Fortunately these days , especialoly as western science is now `proving things` that TC has know for thousands of years (cf enzyme or XIng availibiutly affecting life expertancy) incorporating TMC and vice versa. An excellent development!

October 5, 2006 at 10:47 PM · Thanks Buri,

I've been tuning in to this discussion too--as some of you may remember, I've been diagnosed with Minieres disease (which means my ears are dying--at least that's what Western Medicine says--and there's NO CURE). So, I've gone the Eastern, Northern and Southern Medicine routes and have had much more success treating my problem.

I've learned to negotiate playing for ten minutes at a time (the normal length of my attacks) totally deaf in my left ear (I can still hear with my right) and in such a state of Vertigo I could easily fall over. Nowadays, unless you knew what you were looking for, I could probably fool you, and you might not know what's going on. I rely on my fingers in these moments, which, strangely enough, has actually improved my intonation overall.

October 5, 2006 at 10:48 PM · Greetings,

Kimberlee, getting into the real of the abstruse perhaps, but I think you are already discovering there is more to hearing than a narro wlook at ear function. Hearing is a function of the mind through many senses. The role of energy and vibration in the way we relate to the world is much deeper than many of us experience. I know of two @deaf` musicians who play beautifully. The percussionsit Glennie thingummy and a double bass player who had the most immaculate intonation imaginable , a large part of which she got though feeling the back of her bass with the knee/inner thigh.



October 31, 2006 at 06:15 AM · I had a thorough hearing test and a test of the dB level of my violin (or at least my ear exposure while playing).

The audiologist told me that gradual hearing loss from violin playing (not just in orchestras) is well documented. He wrote me a full report, saying my hearing was still very good, but the left ear was starting to show some signs of damage. He fitted me with musician's earplugs.

The only problem is that playing with them is somehow very unsatisfying! I've compromised by always using the left plug for practice, but hardly ever the right. And then, when I play without either, it's so excitingly loud!

October 31, 2006 at 06:41 AM · I've heard the exact same things as Susan shared. It couldn't hurt to use a little cotton in the ear or something. I think I will.... al

p.s. Thank God I learned to sign the alphabet at least early? I'm paying on!. al

October 31, 2006 at 11:35 AM · I would have no qualms about using ear plugs for loud concerts or ones that involve sitting near the percussion, piccolo, etc. I had to teach beginning percussion one year (ouch, in a big way!) and I encouraged even my students to wear them. My brother used to put his head between the speakers at full blast (it was the 70s, man) and it shows today. I have known school band directors who have gotten hearing damage in their 20s. I have another violin acquaintance who wears earplugs all day, just to minimize additional ear trauma. I know I am very sound sensitized, so I listen to things away from the violin at minimal volumes when possible. Our violin sound is right by our ears, so it pays to be careful.

October 31, 2006 at 12:00 PM · A tip for practising:

If you can afford it, get yourself some kind of basic recording rig for your home, with a condenser mic (or better yet, a good ribbon mic.)

Put the mic on a boom, about 2' higher than the violin and 3-4' away. Set the system up to be in "record ready" mode, so the mic'ed sound is passing through. Plug in a good pair of headphones, and play that way.

The headphones block out the damaging sound going to your left ear, but the mic gives you the "true" sound of your instrument.

This is also a great way to work on technique, since your hear what is REALLY happening with subtle changes in technique.

Additionally, you can add reverb, so it feels like you are practising in a nice hall.

You can also just use a PA system for this, without the speakers hooked up, if the mixer has a separate headphone output.

It's important to have a comfortable set of headphones, and they must be the "closed" type. A decent set is the Sennheiser 280. The best by far is the Beyer DT770.

October 31, 2006 at 12:09 PM · i am not an expert on this:) however, just like you cannot compare kid vs kid on appropriate age to start violin, each adult has different tolerance level to take acoustic abuse:)

putting individual violin's dB aside for a second, each person's hearing apparatus is built differently. some can take more, some can take less. some carpenters have back pain, some don't.

it is definitely a potential occupational hazard and you just have to keep an ear for it.

audiology test is a must (at least confirm nutting violinsts are not simply "hearing" things). if the symptoms persist, definitely pay ENT a visit. tumors can present initially as hearing impairment.

rock on...

October 31, 2006 at 09:20 PM · I entered service in the U.S. Army in 2002, age 32, and as a matter of course, my hearing was tested before being allowed to join. I had to take the hearing test twice, because I failed it the first time. I barely passed the second time. The hearing loss was worse in my left ear, which I tend to hold closer to the violin when I play. Correlation does not imply causality, but I can't think of anything else in my life that could account for my hearing loss. The loss is only in certain frequency areas, relatively high. Oddly enough, I don't experience the loss as partial deafness, but I do notice a low-pitched buzzing in my ear when playing certain double stops, especially thirds (and only when they are in tune). I have always used this "difference tone" (a la Tartini) to tell when my double stops are in tune. I think that my hearing loss and my perception of this difference tone are somehow related. It is a very powerful sensation, and sounds like it is actually "in" my ear. I think that the sound is so intense that it may have damaged my hearing a little. I know that some violinists don't hear this, and because they don't there has been significant debate about whether the phenomenon exists. Sorry for rambling...I just think this is one of the most interesting questions I've ever seen posted on this site.

October 31, 2006 at 09:51 PM · benjamin, i wonder if you had much exposure to gun shot noise prior to enlisting. always protected?

in the service, when you shoot guns, how does your hearing react?

just trying to speak up for your violin:)

November 1, 2006 at 12:42 AM · what? huh?

November 1, 2006 at 06:34 AM · Deleted.

November 1, 2006 at 07:04 AM · Haaaa. Just as I logged in to respond.

Anyway, for what he's saying to do closed back would probably be best like he said. I don't think you're hearing anything better with his practice setup, just different feedback from what you're used to. It feels a little like adjusting to the steering and brakes in a different car.

For listenting to recordings I like Sennheiser too, but the open back ones. The more expensive the better. Good portable ones are some Koss models (not all) and some Sony plugs are good (the more expensive the better). Etymotics, made by a hearing aid company, and Shure plugs are supposed to be good too. Plugs would also work for Allan's practice suggestion and also make good portable phones for whatever. The best general purpose phones for the money are one or two Koss models and ones made by a company named Grado.

November 1, 2006 at 02:14 PM · quote: "I don't think you're hearing anything better with his practice setup..."

Sure you do, Jim. You hear the full frequency spectrum of the instrument, in natural balance (within the limits of the mic & the room you are in.) You don't hear that at all with your open left ear right next to the instrument.

I use this technique with my voice students, and it greatly speeds their development.

November 1, 2006 at 02:17 PM · At some point the musician has to learn how he sounds at a distance, without having to sample at a distance. Use the mike thing to demonstrate and develop something, but understand that it is a technological solution to a problem that can and has been effectively solved for 100s of years without such equipment. You simply have to learn to listen to your sound at a distance rather than up close. You have to learn to hear the whole of the sound not merely the immediate.

In the end, the perfomer must be able to do this. Classical and straight acoustic and single-mike group players do not play with headphones, or "monitor" speakers etc. They have to be able to go without.

November 1, 2006 at 04:11 PM · Of course, Bilbo. I agree completely. -And that's the key. You use the headphones to learn what's really happening "out front," and then you play without them, and learn to understand how what you are THEN hearing relates to the true sound.

You also learn to trust your tactile feedback as much as (or perhaps more than) your auditory feedback. With voice, this is known as "singing by sensation." this is quite difficult for beginners -through intermediate singers to get, and the headphone thing REALLY helps.

I am finding it just as useful for violin, especially for hearing subtleties in bow angle & pressure.

November 1, 2006 at 04:17 PM · Listening from afar is SO important. It is incredibly important for amongst other things TIMING. In the proximity and concentrating on the sound the time aspect of the playing can sometimes suffer so always bear that in mind

November 2, 2006 at 09:58 PM · Allan, if you were talking about voice, I'd agree. Nothing will help your singing progress like a setup you described or even a band type setup. We don't hear our own voices well. Most people would probably barely recognize their own voice. But violin, piano, etc., you should be able to hear well enough without. Granted with your setup it will sound and feel different. Not talking about recording, which is yet another thing.

November 2, 2006 at 09:59 PM · OK, I came in late, so I'm way behind, but Ben, search Rock and roll hearing loss. At least one source mentions that 60% of the R&R Hall of Famers have hearing loss. I would also point out that if you play in an orchestra, you have at least half the group playing into your left ear.

Unfortunately, I tried earplugs playing bass on in the pit (the loudest venue I've found) and I couldn't hear myself.

November 2, 2006 at 10:31 PM · On the topic of aural sensitivity...does anyone else have acute annoyances to the "white" noise produced by a television? It used to be that when anyone would put a TV on - especially on pause - it would drive me insane and physically hurt my ears. Nothing else is quite like electronic noise... Lately it hasn't seemed to bother me as much, but that may be because I rarely have time to watch television anymore.

November 3, 2006 at 03:30 AM · Are you talking about the really high pitched hum? It only bothers me when I can't figure out where it's coming from. I start getting paranoid that it's just in my head.

November 3, 2006 at 05:07 AM · Yeah, that noise. I can walk by a room that has a TV on, and even if I can't "hear" it, I know it's on and it bothers me. I've always thought it was a violin thing, but I may be wrong.

November 3, 2006 at 08:49 AM · Speaking of which, I would like to know how many violinists are light sleepers. I'm going to start a thread.

November 3, 2006 at 01:21 PM · I sleep like a log....I have slept through violent thunderstorms, building renovations, loud music, everything!

November 3, 2006 at 01:25 PM · I've always been a light sleeper, though I was that way before I started the violin.

November 3, 2006 at 11:21 PM · Jenna, I have that for sure! The instant I walk into a room or even a house sometimes.

November 4, 2006 at 12:01 AM · It's the 15 kHz sound that comes from the horizontal scanning frequency of the TV. I think it's vibration caused by the magnetic field changes. Sometimes you can demonstrate how directional high frequencies are by turning your head and the loudness will seem to change.

November 4, 2006 at 07:32 AM · I think a whole lot of the opinions in this thread are rubbish.

There is a great deal of studies in the AES about hearing and musicians and acuity and I could point you to the studies in question.

I am regularly faced with extremely high levels of noise, including what is faced in motor racing, orchestras, and many other things, quite apart from my recording activities.

The left ear for a violinist is generally MORE sensitive rather than being affected by high sound levels, and there are solid reasons why.

To be honest what I find fatigues the ear most (because hearing has a tremendous pinna based content and 90% psycoacoustic), is recording and editing a music festival. You have to have VERY solid hearing for that, especially to record for 7 days solid and do all the editing to perfection as well.

November 4, 2006 at 03:33 PM · Now that's the way to make a splash!

November 4, 2006 at 04:21 PM · Gareth,

Can you point us to any of those AES studies? I am an AES member, and have never seen this documentation. In fact, I've seen just the opposite, but I remain open on the subject. I would VERY much like to see the data.

What I know for sure is that, for me, practising with an open left ear causes mild pain in that ear, esp 1/3 of the way up the e-string. That can't be good.

As we age, we do become more sensitive to midange frequencies. This is part of the hearing-loss process. I am in no hurry to speed it up, especially since I make my living with my ears. (literally) However, I would love the convenience of just picking up the violin and playing, IF I knew absolutely that it were safe.

Untill I see some serious evidence to the contrary, I will assume it is dangerous and play it safe.

November 5, 2006 at 02:47 PM · Yes!

A very interesting subject.

The research on the ground was done by an emminent CNRS + AES member (O Schneider) and was done on all members of the Strasbourg Philhamonic orchestra some years back.

He often recorded levels in excess of 130dbA in concerts inc the "Percussion de Strasbourg",using precision B+K sound calibration mikes which use 130V phantom.

It is almost impossible without compression to render these effects in 24bit sound, never mind the traditional 16 bit CD format, and normal 48V mics like Neumann which simply can't render beyond about 90-98dB successfully at all, (quite apart again from the old Valve type mics -eg. U87 which run into heavy distortion at well below these levels).

Mono vinyl or shellac recordings in 78rpm probably renders those levels in analogic best, but also with huge levels of distortion.

Orchestra members can be exposed to these uncompressed levels quite frequently but remain totally unaware and undamaged.

The results obtained were completely astonishing and conclusive.

The results,-conclusions that psychoacoustic filtration was so well developed in concentrated musicians, that they could easily survive these effects for years, with no damage whatever.

This is equally true of rock musicians, but NOT for their audiences, and not for digital playerback.

I will have to ask him this week, the conversation being a casual one last year which passed over this very subject.

Now your other Q....

The perceived (or psychoacoustic sensitivity), to middle frequencies is probably caused by the natural aging processes which give progressive losses to the very very high frequencies which are important for harmonic contents.

This renders a rather flat character to hearing as you get beyond the age of 35.

Generally the band beyond about 14khz slowly disappears as you get older unless you have truly exceptional hearing (eg, hydraphone operators, selected for their acuity).

Now I can still test and pass a hearing test of 18500-19500 hz and hear bats v easily indeed, and I'm age 45+.

This is considered exceptional!

So let's forget the musician hearing loss syndrome, it simply doesn't exist, unless of course due to an external accident like burst eardrums or a virus or medical condition.

I do however believe listening to digital music sources such as mp3 players, particularly at high levels seriously damages and desensitises the ear.

The Fraunhofer institute's codecs are particularly poor at rendering certain types of music content.

Unfortunately the NORM for a majority of radio stations in the world now use these formats, including a particularly unfortunate development called DAB, which is becoming very popular in cars. The guilty parties are as important as the BBC rendering in the disgusting sounding 160kb/s or Classic FM in as low as 128kb/s really only suitable for speech or electronic music.(!!!!!).

People are lterally having their hearing messed with and manipulated, never the meddling with the orchestral A from mp3 rising often from 440 to as high as 450+ !!!!!.

The loss of detail, clarity and information are particularly HORRIBLE on classical music, and it's introducing a new generation of listeners to the severest and most unpleasant form of distortion known to man.


Beethoven lost his hearing for reasons totally extraneous to playing music, and certainly not due to the mp3!!

Hope this helps


November 5, 2006 at 05:16 PM · gareth, i think it may be too far reaching to call whatever opinions presented on this thread as "rubbish" because to be fair, many scientific studies are truly rubbish of larger scales:) since i have yet to go over the studies you have quoted, they are safe :) i trust the messenger, but doubt the validity of the message.

the experiences in classical music are often dictated by anecdotes,,,whatever the teachers suggest is held as the standard and there are many standards among different schools, thus a fertile ground for debate.

when a "study" is done, it is often regarded highly, not necessarily as the final verdict, but until something else comes along, it is close to the final say, certainly seemingly more credible than grandma's chicken soup as a cure for the common cold.

my point? to be able to point fingers and change people's perception and possibly behavior affecting their health, you may need studies that study studies that study studies... even with that approach, it can be still confusing. couple investigations by the same group is a leap forward but far from being the whole picture.

to give you some examples in an effort to muddle the water a bit...

studies after studies involving hundreds of thousands of people or more were conducted by the best in the field all over the world over time on a single subject...is hormonal replacement therapy beneficial to post- menopausal women? you would think that hey, after tens of millions of dollars or more, someone should come up with something, right?

problem is, they did, that everyone comes up with something at the same or different time and the current consensus is that one school thinks that it is beneficial, risk and benefit considered, and the other school does not. it is possible that with honest and competent research, having covered as many confounding factors as possible, having researches verifying researches, it can be still a flip of the coin for people confronted with this issue,,,

then you have the food pyramid fiasco where the older version, backed by studies, suggests that carb means low calory. years later you see the result,,a culture of obesity and illnesses from high carb and low good fat.

some people develop lung cancer just like that, some never do after 100 years of heaving smoking, and the moment they stop smoking, they drop dead:) go figure. or go figure that out.

regarding this hearing thingy,,,what did i say lately on this forum? ,,,right, it depends on the person:)

do we really need studies to tell ourselves that others know about our body better than we do? that if we have a headache or buzzing in the ears from playing the loud passages it is because we are sissies? :) no deafness no gain?

on another level, you can have machines that measure noise in the hall or even just outside our ears, but how do researchers account for bony conduction through the chest and jaw right into our inner ear? is it possible that the researchers have in fact underestimated the noise level truly affecting us? is it possible that certain frequencies generated by the violin are damaging but not humanly audible or even detectable?

yo, when in doubt, consult the grandma, man. much better source of common sense which is not built into any studies. case in point: researchers have in fact confirmed grandma's long held conviction that chicken soup is good for the common cold. chemicals in chicken soup indeed inhibit viral activity. what is missing, however, is more studies to verify that,,,:)

last, when you read a study, before you take in anything, look for the authors' acknowledgment on the study's limitations. the more the limitations, the more credible the conclusion. and vice versa.

November 5, 2006 at 06:27 PM · Gareth, I believe you are a very dangerous fellow.

I post the following not to stomp on you, nor to prove my superiority to you. Honestly. I am, however, VERY concerned that misinformation and mis-interpretation of facts might cause harm to fellow violinists. I am SO concerned , that I just spent two hours of my precious free time to compose the responses.

I do not yet have a firm opinion on whether violin playing is dangerous to our left ears, but I DO have a very firm opinion that you do not have a firm grasp of much what you are talking about. (see my next post for details.)

I have searched the AES archives and can't find anything by an "O Schneider." Please give me an urls so I can examine this study. You wrote in your first post, quote: "There is a great deal of studies in the AES about hearing and musicians and acuity and I could point you to the studies in question." Please do so. I am now asking for the second time.

The AES archives contain many studies on hearing loss, and all have pretty scary conclusions. There is also a mobile hearing loss center at every AES convention, a service the AES pays for and provides free of charge to its members, because they feel it is such an important issue.

If anyone is interested, the chairman of the AES committee on hearing loss prevention is Robert Schulein. He can be emailed via this webpage: http://www.aes.org/technical/hhlp/

I just sent him a query myself regarding these matters. I will report his response here once I receive it.

One should note that the AES is concerned with audio engineers, not musicians, so it's surprising that they would even include such a study as you mention. Anyway, I'd like to read it. Until such time as I can, I have to assume you are completely misinterpreting his findings.

I also don't understand how he could have studied instrument-related hearing loss in ANYONE by simply taking measurements on any given day. Such studies require multiple readings and testing over a period of years, under controlled conditions, and they must be replicated many times since there is so much room for error. (see Al's excellent post, above.)

Everything I've read in the last 25 years or so shows fairly conclusive evidence that players of certain acoustic instruments suffer instrument-related hearing loss, though I don't recall ever reading about violinists specifically.

Most goverment safety organizations, worldwide, put the maximum safe noise level at 85 DBa for 8 hours. I have a calibrated Fluke meter. With the mic set at left-ear position, bowing hard on my violin, I read 89 db, and it's not a particularly loud instrument.

Additionally, a quick Google search under "hearing loss musicians" will turn up hundreds of reports, studies, and warnings, with plenty of science to back them up.

November 5, 2006 at 06:25 PM · Now Gareth, lets look at some of your statements, shall we? (before you edit them)


"He often recorded levels in excess of 130dbA in concerts ."

-Well, I sure would like to see that study! Sustained 130 DBa causes instant hearing damage. Are you saying all concert-goers are deaf? -And since we are talking about playing the violin, not listening to an orchestra, I fail to see how this would have anything to do with this thread, even if your statement is true (which is unlikely)


"It is almost impossible without compression to render these effects in 24bit sound, "

-Say what? The dynamic range of 24 bit audio is 144 dB. That's over seven times 130 dB. -But anyway, what does this have to do with our discussion? We are not discussing dynamic range, but sustained total volume.


"...never mind .... normal 48V mics like Neumann which simply can't render beyond about 90-98dB successfully at all, (quite apart again from the old Valve type mics -eg. U87 which run into heavy distortion at well below these levels)."

Ughh. The U87 isn't a valve mic. It's a 48v transistor-based mic that can handle 122 dB cleanly. The tube version is the U67, which can safely handle 116 dB. even the ancient U47 can handle 114 dB cleanly. You can look this up on the Neumann website. Please don't just pull numbers out of the air. Again, though, this has NOTHING to do with the discussion at hand.


"The results,-conclusions that psychoacoustic filtration was so well developed in concentrated musicians, that they could easily survive these effects for years, with no damage whatever."

Really? They trained their MINDS to overcome the physical effects of cell damage? Amazing! I don't think even Buddhist monks can do that. I've GOTTA read this Schneider study.


"This is equally true of rock musicians"

-Really? tell that to Pete Townsend and Ted Nugent, they will be very please to know this. -but you'd better shout loudly when you tell them, since they're both almost completey deaf.


"The perceived (or psychoacoustic sensitivity), to middle frequencies is probably caused by the natural aging processes .... This renders a rather flat character to hearing as you get beyond the age of 35."

There is no "standard" age at which this typically happens, and there are four separate changes that happen, not just one. None of them render a "flat" character. One actually entails a diminished capacity to differentiate pitch! All four are exacerbated by exposure to loud noise. -and it's not psychoacoustic. I know you like that word,(so do I, it's very important in my line of work) but we are talking here about very physical processes.


"Generally the band beyond about 14khz slowly disappears as you get older unless you have truly exceptional hearing (eg, hydraphone operators, selected for their acuity)."

1: It's more like 8K. 2: exceptional hearers ALSO suffer loss as they age.


"Now I can still test and pass a hearing test of 18500-19500 hz and hear bats v easily indeed, and I'm age 45+."

-Congatulations. You are in the top 1/100th percent of all hearers in your age group. Some people have smoked 2 packs of ciggarettes all their lives without getting cancer. Are you suggesting that we all light up immediately?


"So let's forget the musician hearing loss syndrome, it simply doesn't exist."

-You should be banned from these forums for such an absurd and dangerous statement.


"I do however believe listening to digital music sources such as mp3 players, particularly at high levels seriously damages and desensitises the ear. ?The Fraunhofer institute's codecs are particularly poor at rendering certain types of music content. "

Very true concerning the dangers of ipods & such (analog or digital) -but explain to me again how the CODEC is responsible for hearing loss? If anything, since codecs are designed to contain primarily the frequencies we hear easily, they cause us to turn DOWN the overall volume.


"The loss of detail, clarity and information are particularly HORRIBLE on classical music, and it's introducing a new generation of listeners to the severest and most unpleasant form of distortion known to man."

-No, the most unpleasant form of distortion known to man is the way you distort facts.

November 5, 2006 at 05:33 PM · I have to agree..It is completely impossible to "toughen up" one's ears. The ear's hair cells don't regenerate and you also cannot make them stronger.

November 5, 2006 at 05:46 PM · I also can't resist mentioning that if they do another study with an orchestra, they should come to Chicago: the "Mack truck" of orchestras (I know that reviewer didn't mean it as a compliment)!

Pain is the body's way of telling us something's not right, and no study can alleviate that. Depending on where I sit in the orchestra, I must wear earplugs for certain sections and sometimes entire pieces if there isn't enough time to remove them. We also have clear plexiglass shields in front of some of the brass and percussion.

It may not be pretty but it's the reality at least for now.

November 5, 2006 at 06:17 PM · "Pain is the body's way of telling us something's not right, and no study can alleviate that"

we may also need to tune in to the possibility that some damage can be insidiously painless until you go, say what,,,:)

occupational hazard for sure, study or not.

November 5, 2006 at 09:44 PM · I hardly think there is much me point in commentating on these views, they are just so politically correct.

I suggest you should present me with an instant ban.

I make a specialty and pride in getting banned from forums, so it will be with great joy I win another medal.

I am so obviously dangerous and don't know a pianissimo from a fffz! (or even a ftlb torque from a brake horsepower-it has relevance!)

In view of the EXTREME noise levels I often face in my work in Motorsport/racing engines, perhaps my little lapsus with our friend NEUMANN (which is still a wide field condensor mike,-can be excused, but never mind the little experience or 2 in applied acoustics.

You are undoubtedly so much cleverer than me and have everything you need at your fingertips.

I am unlikely to be considered an expert and I will quietly not bother to disturb your peaceful 89dB forum for the future.

Just carry on!



November 5, 2006 at 09:20 PM · From Gareth THOMAS, quote:

"I am so obviously dangerous and don't know a pianissimo from a fffz! (or even a ftlb torque from a breakhorsepower-it has relevance!)

In view of the EXTREME noise levels I often face in my work in Motorsport/racing engines.........."

If you worked in Motorsports/racing, I'd think you'd know that it's "brake horsepower", not "break horsepower".

November 5, 2006 at 09:00 PM · I'm still trying to figure out what "concentrated musicians" are.

Personally, I believe I am a "re-constituted" musician. My violin playing often sounds a bit watery. Sigh.

November 5, 2006 at 08:58 PM · Means nothing. Richard Petty can't spell "car."

November 5, 2006 at 09:31 PM · Yeah he can. He just pretends he can't so the fans can relate. ;-)

November 5, 2006 at 09:35 PM · Haaaaa.

November 6, 2006 at 02:13 AM · Sorry, what? Speak up please.

November 6, 2006 at 09:31 AM · Gareth,

You haven't any of the clarifications asked of you. I think they raised some valid points..starting with that study you mentioned so specifically and quoted results from at some length that was not to be found.

So can you answer that one please? Really interested in the answers.

November 6, 2006 at 10:01 AM · Well I can be induced to answer but not in the current atmosphere. I'm simply not interested in a number of American smart a..s es on this forum who play (and talk too loudly).

I'm not suprised they're deaf!

? deaf,- and maybe dumb! (not naming names), come out with sweeping statements about scientific surveys etc etc, without any basis of criticism,- assuming we waste time and money on these things...

I also mentioned in passing, I could not get the information needed until I go back to Strasbourg this week, where we could have a further talk about the actual conditions used for the tests.

I am actually very interested in the subject because suprise, suprise I am also concerned because of my work and the risks involved...

AND because I happen to be a recording producer and engineer too..


November 6, 2006 at 01:46 PM · OK,

So you make sweeping statements which you then refuse to back up, even if it just means quote your source study; you just get offensive.

I am European/Asian but I don't see what that has got to do with it.

I don't think the person who took apart your post point by point was offensive: on the contrary, he raised some very valid questions, which you should have been able to answer.

I work in academia, and I am afraid you wouldn't last a day in any field with this kind of attitude to anyone quering your supposed "research" and "knowledge".

November 6, 2006 at 03:21 PM · It's a funny thing, but every time I post, someone quotes something I didn't say.

I strongly object to this behaviour.

1/ It was not my research. Did I ever say it was?

2/ Sweeping statements.

Observations and explanations are part of science not hearsay.

I am interested in some observed facts, bu not all.

The brain filters high energy noise very effectively, especially from the low frequency end and that is just for random noise.

This is not a matter of controversy, it is an observed and very useful fact.

When observing, a highly ordered non random and even anticipated effect such as loud music with high transients, the brain filters the effects even better, and the mon linear anticipation of high level events attenuate the intensity of it very effectively, even preventing pain.

These are physiological phenomenon which eg. in war situations) enable quite amazing resistance to noise.

3/ I did say and I repeat it again. The studies in question cannot (I repeat CANNOT) BE released today because

I said (did you read what I wrote?).....will not be with the person concerned before the end of this week....

So why the heck go on and on, insisting on something which I told you all can't deliver today, and which I am merely interested in.

The reaction I have to certain posts is merely because they go against observing phenomena, done in a scientific way, and what we consider to be logical explanation for them, with no elements shown by many posters of complete subjectivity.

Objective conclusions are interesting.

How and where it has been written up, who did the paper and why simply doesn't interest me, but no doubt it was done at the university of Strasbourg, (which it might be said is a respectable academic establishment as you might say)!

I will therefore attempt to dig this all out, & waste my time translating them, then you can argue as much as you like afterwards.

November 6, 2006 at 04:13 PM · I'll be the resident American smarta**! Many of my colleagues experience pain due to loud sounds on stage, and I think there are one or two examples out there of war-time hearing loss.

So are these folks the ones too dumb to reorganize their brain patterns and protect their hearing?

We have a few folks from outside the US in our orchestra, by the way, only a few of whom are smara**es. :)

November 6, 2006 at 05:41 PM · From Gareth THOMAS;

"The brain filters high energy noise very effectively, especially from the low frequency end and that is just for random noise.

This is not a matter of controversy, it is an observed and very useful fact."

That may be true, but how does that protect the mechanical parts of the ear from physical damage? The brain processing occurs too late in the chain of events.

November 6, 2006 at 05:29 PM · let's put this clearly for once.

Some are trying to establish a cause and effect relationship, and I can hear the attorneys starting to sharpen their pens,- next thing will be the orchestral "compensation culture".

It's like, atmospheric ozone in cities CAUSES asthma..

..or reading in poor light CAUSES short sightedness or....

the latest one in fashion,- carbon dioxide emmission CAUSES global warming (!!)

Whereas nothing could be further from the truth.

Scientifically we have to be far more careful.

Is there a cause and effect....Playing in modern symphony orchestras CAUSES hearing damage?

Well it simply doesn't work like that.

It MAY just be your hearing is suffering because the MODERN way of making music for the media and public is "LOUD IS GLORIOUS" and of neccesity BETTER!

The contributory factor to subjective hearing loss COULD be the fact that our "modern" life style is obssessed with power,- and large sound is a sign of it,- so we have all radio stations and multi mic recording techniques geared to "gonfle" the sound so it no longer resembles a real orchestra at all.

Our instruments, piano, violin alike have been modified to produce the most powerful sound possible, and the mic on a concerto violinist is so placed as to DOMINATE the orchestra to an extent which is simply nothing in common with reality.

Now if we add to all this the modern concert hall(which is an abberation), we are by possible means trying to obtain "projection".

There is no other way to get this effect apart from making the professional life of say a viola player terrible in front of the wind and brass, by being subject to fantastically hi audio levels. (Finale of Shostakovich 5 anyone?)

Now is there a cause and effect?

Nothing is less sure, but the sure environment has changed, and that player would have been trained in music school to have made their ears VASTLY more sensitive than the average man in the street (only to have them devasted by the modern symphony orchestra )))!

The conclusions that I heard was, the deviations from the norm, for members of an orchestra were no different from the average sample "man in the street".

The only thing we can say for certain is we as a civilisation are sick.

We have nothing in common whatever with the conditions that music was written for until AT LEAST the 1960s, where being able to play quietly was a huge merit.

Merely the Modern Steinway Model D has the stamina, decibel speaking of a weight lifter compared with the OLD beautiful toned early 1900s instruments...this says an awful lot about what masochists we have become.

Even quartets today play Schubert like as if it were a battlefield, then get great critical acclaim too. It makes it SO UGLY, - so far from the Vienna of 1830.

Now it may be a sign of our times we suffer hearing fatigue, but in reality we are all subject to unbelievably high levels of noise, busy streets, low flying aircraft, sports bikes et al, in a frenzy of audio aggression, from which the ear NEEDS to be rested.

Few people get this rest cure, or even take such an idea seriously.

It is more than likely the cumulative effects of all these elements and the fact we all live 20 years longer makes the aging process so much more obvious and miserable.

After all,-

nothing can be worse for someone who makes their living from their ears to be faced with a rapid decline.

November 6, 2006 at 06:23 PM · now you put this clearly, i find your original post more intriguing:)

November 6, 2006 at 06:35 PM · I don't.

November 6, 2006 at 06:36 PM · The audiologist placed little wires in my ears, and I played my violin, an older instrument that doesn't seem particularly loud. The noise level in my left ear was 115dB. That can definitely cause damage.

November 6, 2006 at 06:40 PM · that 115 is called neural conduction..if you can imagine the addition of bony conduction, it is not 115 anymore.

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