Miamiflute's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘hearing

There has been a lot of ear talk in my family lately. My son, Lane, who is 9 months old, I think has been born with a perpetual ear infection. We’ve been to the doctor three times since January, and each time the doctors says the same thing: “he has a LOT of ear wax, it got infected, his eardrum perforated and is oozing puss, take some antibiotics.”

If you’re like me, and most musicians I know – you didn’t read anything past “eardrum perforated”. You’re probably touching your ears right now and thinking how much they hurt,  in some sort of empathic bonding experience. Not even counting the number of sleepless nights we have had in our house in the last month, this has been an emotionally draining experience. How do I protect my sons ears – infections or hearing damage? We take both kids to LOTS of concerts and sporting events, and even though I have not brought either of them into a Wind Ensemble or Marching Band rehearsal, we certainly have been in loud places. Will the very essence of my career be damaging to my children?

Baby Brees

I ran across this article in last week in the NY Times about Drew Brees’ son wearing hearing protection at the SuperBowl. I remember watching the game with my husband, who asked “What’s with the headset? Brees think he can coach the game, too?” [a wonderfully sensitive man, my hubby.] Without even thinking about my own children I said “probably to protect his hearing”  – not even registering what had just come out of my mouth. We live 7 miles from the stadium where the SuperBowl was hosted, and our kids have been to many Miami Hurricane and Florida Marlins’  games there. I never thought much about protecting their ears from sporting events, only loud, indoor marching bands.

So I’ve put together a list of preventative measures to help everyone try to protect their – and their kids – ears.

1. Know the danger. Being aware of the damage that noises can do to hearing is a large step. The damage that is done is invisible – you won’t need crutches or a band-aide, so it is easy to overlook. Any situation that results in more than 90 dB will damage hearing, per OSHA guidelines. But be knowledgeable, other standards out there list anything over 85 dB.

2. Give ears a rest. Whether you are teaching lessons, practicing with your band in the garage, or going to the big game, be sure to factor in quiet times to help give your ears time to recover.

3. Model hearing protection. That’s right, put your money where you mouth is and put in your own ear plugs. Kids will do what you do, and as a parent you are always a teacher.

4. Make adjustments to your practice space to reduce the volume. Singing in the bathroom may make you sound like the next Idol, but the resulting acoustics may not be the best in the long run. If you teach lessons out of your house, be sure to find ample space. Minimal space requirements are 17 cubic meters per person/student, with a reverberation time between 1.0-2.0 seconds.

5. Find more – and be – a source of information. As musicians we are probably best to beat the drum about hearing protection. Make is part of you discussions with other parents, and with those in your family. It make it relevant to them, so that they will embrace the information. It wasn’t until I mentioned to my hubby that Lane will not be able to hear an “audible” at the line of scrimmage during his oft dreamed about NFL career that he took this information to heart. ;p