Hi everyone, just curious, does anyone use musician earplugs when practicing for long durations on the violin? Apparently it can be quite damaging to practice for long periods of time, especially for the left ear which is in close proximity to the violin. Personally, I use downbeats earplugs, and they not only have a protective function, but also help to improve tone.
hi Joel, I surely do! I use ALPINE MusicSafe Classic.
"also help to improve tone"
I use an Alpine musicsafe earplug with the 'heaviest' filter for my left ear, as I'm a migraine sufferer and it is the only way I can stand playing the violin. I play with my right ear unplugged. If I don't use it, my head will start aching at just 10 minutes of normal playing.
Thanks Miguel for helping me explain -- @Erik yup apoarently they help to improve tone becauae you get a better sensing of the acoustics of the space that you are playing in. Basically you hear yourself from the audience's perspective and not the player's perspective. For me I think it is helpful in improving projection too, because when I hear myself softer, I will instinctively increase my sound projection.
I only use earplugs in small rooms with low ceilings. Occasionally, I have the opportunity to play in an exceptionally large garage with the acoustics of a church and the earplugs are entirely unnecessary.
When I used an ear plug (20 to 35 years ago) in my left ear I used a low-cost wax earplug from the local drug store, fitted loosely so that the amount of sound into my left and right ears was equal. This was probably 12 to 18 DB attenuation.
I keep a set of "Earasers" in my case, -19db peak. They are very discreet and probably wouldn't be noticed if you wanted to wear them in public. A few seasons ago we played a modern percussion concerto and I slipped them in for that. They are a godsend in situations like this.
I always use a musician earplug in my left ear when practicing. When I don't I always feel some minor deafening afterward,this can't be a good thing over time. I think you can become desensitized to it though, but the damage occurs nonetheless. Studies have shown loss of hearing in many violin players left ear.
I use D'Addario "Pacato" ear plugs. They work well. I really can't do without them. The sound level is too uncomfortable. If you doubt that you should be using ear plugs, I'd recommend getting a db meter app for your mobile phone. Then measure your violin's sound output. When I place the device the same distance from my violin as my left ear, I can easily exceed 120db. Don't delude yourself. It really is dangerous.
I would not recommend them to students unless they have a real problem perfoming without them-which should be a minority of the whole playing population. It may be helpful for some that are highly sensitive to be sure, but violinists have dealt with this for hundreds of years without necessarily going "left ear deaf". So yes, they can be useful for a select few, but I fail to see how a general recommendation is advisable, at least for most.
"...violinists have dealt with this for hundreds of years without necessarily going "left ear deaf.."
I have indeed lost some, but cannot attribute it to violin playing, but more to an incident at the beach when I was young and small. Tinnitus since, but still hear highs well nonetheless, above 15k at least.
I would urge every violinist to start using some passive inexpensive ear protection for the left ear, so you avoid the expensive versions later in life. I now must use expensive, custom, computer controlled hearing aids. Orchestra musicians think they are immune because the instruments are not amplified. But in the back of the viola section I am directly in front of the trumpets. At the back of the second violin I am next to the percussion department and directly downwind of the piccolo. If I were a better player I could be in safer front row of the first violins. O, right, doing black powder rifles and artillery crew probably didn't help either.
Under the ear, a good violin produces up to 100dB, and that for many hours everyday. This would never be allowed in a non-musical workplace.
ha, ha, thanks for getting rid of my earplug guilt. I started using 'earasers' a month ago... about 5 months in to my senior violin adventure. It sure attenuates those beginner squeaks and encourages me to experiment with using more bow real estate.
There is an excellent chapter on this issue by Janet Horvath in “Playing (Less) Hurt”, a monograph on musicians’ health and injury problems. Chapter 15, Hearing is our Business” generally endorses use of having protection to avoid long-term, gradual hearing loss. I bought the book because I was having neck arthritis problems that seemed provoked by violin playing (very informative on that too) and highly recommend it. I now use an Etymotic musician earplug in my left ear (no proprietary interest). It is designed specifically for musicians to attenuate evenly across the hearing spectrum. If your hearing seems a little dull after an extended practice, you likely are doing long term damage. My teacher also recommended baseline audiometry to compare to any future testing, though I confess have not done that yet. I practice with a mute when I must, but I get the sense it masks flaws in my playing when it’s better I hear them, and makes me play “differently” than without it.
"up to 100dB, and that for many hours everyday. This would never be allowed in a non-musical workplace."
Fair enough, Han, as usual!
According to the headline segment on today's CBS-TV Sunday Morning (still being broadcast here on the West Coast as I write this), hearing loss eventually affects 2/3 of humans. (but only 20% of them ever wear hearing aids). We all know only a small fraction of them play the violin. My paternal grandfather suffered from severe hearing loss in his old age. My sister's hearing loss is so profound that she has a cochlear implant. My own hearing loss became noticeable to me about 25 years ago, shortly before I was 50. Our father did not live long enough to suffer hearing loss, but his 3 sister did. Obviously, my hearing loss was inherited.
This is a great discussion!
I wear an earplug (just a plain old foam earplug) in my left during practice because I find that the violin or viola screams in my ears when I play loud. It works well.
I carry them in the case, but to be honest I only use them when I feel very much the need of them such as in "boomy" practice rooms or with some pieces.
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