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I am not absolutely certain that my daughter is going deaf and playing violin has caused it. She started playing violin at the age of 9. Now she is 15 and the hearing test which we took from a nearby clinic in Toronto revealed that my daughter is slightly deaf to high frequencies in her left ear. She plays in the kitchen or a tiled area, but most of the times she feels ringing in the ears.
I have been searching online for the preventive ways to hearing loss. Wearing custom made musician's earplugs or playing for a short period of time are the only prevention I have found online. So, I thought of getting hearing aids from Toronto. Is anyone else concerned about their hearing or doing something to preserve it fully enjoying their instruments? Has anybody else damaged their hearing through violin playing? Please share.
I've been hard of hearing all my life (genetic issue in my case), so I'm a bit more sensitive to this issue than most.
Yes, playing violin can damage your hearing. The instrument is designed to be loud (to fill concert halls) and while there are some that are actually less loud under the ear than they are further away (maybe), generally, the way to bet is that it's going to be quite loud next to your ear.
Good hearing aids can help (because they can be programmed not to allow more than a certain amount of sound in), but they have to be the right kind. Behind-the-ear won't help with that (they only have a tiny speaker in the ear itself and it won't block sound), and the completely in-the-ear-canal won't either, because they don't have enough mass to function as an earplug. The in-the-ear kind work well for that, but your daughter may not like them, because they do show. They also run 5 or 6 grand a pair. (You might not need a pair, given the situation.)
You can get decent musicians earplugs for about $40. https://fiddlershop.com/earasers-musicians-earplugs.html?search=earasers&description=true Most good music shops will have something similar. Plain cheap earplugs will also work for protecting her hearing, although they will distort the sound of the violin a lot more than the musicians earplugs will. The earplugs I just referenced (Earasers) don't block much in the low frequencies at all, by the way, but they block about 15 DB in the higher ones. That should take the volume level down from around 95 DB (in the danger zone for prolonged exposure) down to about 80 DB. Moderately loud, but should not be damaging.
If the hearing loss is slight, my recommendation would be the earplugs. If it's bad enough to be affecting her ability to understand people's speech, then get hearing aids. I've had trouble understanding people all my life, and I've only understood in the last few years how much it's contributed to making me an outsider.
Any time you feel ringing in your ears after exposure to sound, that's a warning sign that it was too loud. It may or may not have done damage that time, but it's not something you want to repeat.
I wear my musicians plugs even when I go to the movies. Why take the chance. You only have one set of ears.
I regret not wearing earplugs to the U2 concert I went to a couple weeks ago. My ears felt awful for days, I had never been to such a loud concert in my life. My hearing has always been pretty good, even after working in loud factories (had one tester test me about 3 times because they thought something was wrong since I kept getting it perfect, lol) but I haven't had mine tested in about 10 years. Gotta be careful with our hearing, whether we play instruments or not, it's a horrible thing to lose.
@Fiddlerman Do you wear your musician's plugs when practicing? Sometimes? All the time? Just wondered if this was a general recommendation or more specific to sensitive ears. I recently got hearing aids as I am losing the high frequencies (age does it, not just loud rock concerts), and I love that my violin sounds so different now. I don't want to do any more damage however. I agree on plugs for movies, I am amazed at how loud they are these days.
@damfino Ok aside from ringing in the ears, you went to a U2 concert, excellent!
@intrepidgirl Being in the military I've been the young and dumb type that thought it was weak to wear ear plugs. I now have hearing loss in my ears and regret not wearing ear plugs even though it wouldn't have been cool.
Now that I'm playing violin as well I always wear ear plugs when I'm playing. The musician ones are awesome because it just tones down the frequencies but doesn't change how you're actually hearing the violin. Without my ear plugs it's very hard for me to play on the A and E string well, probably due to hearing loss. With them in I can hear the notes better so I play more relaxed and as a side effect play much better. She should try them to see if it makes playing easier. I was amazed at what a difference it made when I bought some one a whim. Good luck
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