Miamiflute's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘kids

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

My husband and my children, Matilda and Lane, are endless sources of inspiration to me – and in the most unusual ways. While this blog is not about them, per se, their actions inspire me to investigate, think, and sometimes change the way I look at or do something.

So, this morning when Matilda got out of bed she was in, what us Mom’s like to call, a ‘snit’. No potty, no breakfast, no changing clothes – you get it. My idea to sit down and watch the Wiggles while I got her brother dressed was immediately, and adamantly dismissed. I offered up Mickey Mouse – which was also shot down. For those of you who are still sleeping at 6:30 a.m. – these are pretty much your only choices for toddler TV.  Out of desperation I finally just asked her, “What DO you want to watch???!!!?”.

Calmly, she replied, “Sprout”. And then proceeded to walk over to my husband’s desk, open his laptop, and grab the mouse.

Did I mention she’s two?

We had shown her videos from the Sprout Channel on the laptop before, so she knows they are out there. Always on, always out there. So, then it dawned on me – the absolute power of instant media access. Does this power diminish the value music? Movies?  A live performance experience? If it is broadcast live to world, or available forever on You Tube is it worth less than it used to be? Matilda has had no choice other than to live in a world of immediacy, so she will never know what it was like to wait for a TV show to be available. Just as you and I will never know what it is like to live in a world without cars – they have always been there, and are part of our language. We can think about what it was like when there were no cars, but we will really never know.

As music educators, how do we communicate the value of music if it is always available? Or the value of attending a concert live, in person? I often have visions of people pushing wheelbarrows full of Confederacy Dollars or German Deutschmarks to buy a loaf of bread after they became worthless to the government. Will our students feel the same way about their musical education? Will they be pushing wheelbarrows full of CDs to trade for computer gadgets? Will live performances continue to become fewer while live-streamed or archived events become the norm?

I encourage your thoughts on how – or if – we can continue to keep these experiences valuable in music education.