The result of noise exposure is ringing in the ears (tinnitus), poor pitch and loudness perception, and hearing loss. Hearing loss impacts individuals across life activities – social, school, work, and home.
School age children are the fastest growing population of noise-exposed individuals suffering from permanent hearing loss. Day in and day out, instrumental music students (e.g., band and orchestra members) and their instructors are being exposed to potentially damaging levels of noise during practices and performances.
Our goal is to educate instructors about these dangers and equip them and their students with appropriate non-custom musician earplugs. The overall goal is to promote healthy listening habits in students that will last their whole lives. This work is part of the Musicians’ Hearing Center which is part of the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. We provide this program at no charge to the Pittsburgh Public Schools. We are happy to come to schools and educate music instructors, students, and/or parents. We supply non-custom musician earplugs to instrumental students and instructors (instructors are welcome to re-order each year and during the year if more earplugs are needed).
A number of elementary, middle, and high schools already take advantage of this program. If your school is interested in this program, contact Catherine Palmer (Director, Audiology, UPMC) at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-647-6089.
Providing hearing protection during instrumental practice and performance is no different from providing safety goggles during chemistry instruction or football helmets during football activities. The sound levels achieved in group practice and performance (orchestra and band) are loud enough to damage hearing permanently over time. Musician earplugs allow students and instructors to be exposed to a safe level of sound and maintains the fidelity of the sound so they can play and hear the music correctly.