skip to main content

The effects of noise on musicians

The music and entertainment sectors are unique from other areas of work in that high noise levels and extremely loud special effects are often regarded as essential elements of an event. However, loud sounds, whatever their source, can damage your hearing. Hearing damage is permanent, irreversible and can cause deafness.

It's very difficult to ascertain just how many musicians are affected by work-related hearing problems. We are often told by MU members that they have problems ranging from slight hearing loss to constant tinnitus. However, not everyone wants to admit that they are suffering because they may fear losing work as a result. This possibly leads to musicians struggling on and putting up with pain and discomfort on a regular basis, rather than taking sick leave or cancelling gigs.

Where musicians can get hearing advice

Musicians are affected by noise levels as workers in any industry are, and their hearing is crucial for the job they do. This presents interesting challenges for musicians and we have sought to assist members in dealing with these.

Hearing health surveillance

There is no requirement for the self-employed and freelancers to have their own health surveillance. However, the self-employed and freelancers are strongly advised to arrange their own hearing health surveillance if they think their exposure levels regularly exceed the Second Action Value, they regularly have to wear hearing protection, or they have other concerns about their hearing.

Causes of deafness

Hearing loss can be caused by many things, including the natural ageing process, hereditary causes, health problems, head injuries, ear infections plus some drugs for illnesses can have the side effect of causing deafness.

A noise-induced hearing loss has distinguishing characteristic features that are detectable after a hearing test. There is a range of hearing that is described by doctors as ‘within normal limits’. The fact that you may have worked in noise does not necessarily mean that you have any hearing problems, or that those problems have been caused by work.

Often, hobbies can cause deafness, such as shooting, the power tools used in DIY and discos. These factors may account for all or at least part of your deafness.

If you wish to pursue a deafness claim, contact your Regional Office.

Listen: hearing health in music

Elevate Music Podcast is aimed at helping musicians to improve their health and wellbeing. Listen to their episode on Hearing Health in music. You'll hear from drummer Nigel Elliott, who will discuss the effects that over 40 years of playing music has had on his hearing, and the steps he’s taken to protect it. Audiologist Gladys Akinseye from the Musicians Hearing Services gives her advice on how to look after your hearing health, and will also tell us how you can access professional moulded ear plugs for a fraction of the price. 

Member benefits

Member benefit

MU Safety Reps

The MU has the special group of Roving Safety Reps who can assist you in your workplace.

Read more about MU Safety Reps
Specialist help

Healthcare Services

The MU has partnerships with specialist organisations to be able to help musicians address health problems.

Read more about Healthcare Services

Health news and features

Young Black musician looking thoughtful while looking at a laptop in a recording studio.

Celebrating BAPAM at 40

The British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM) turns 40 this year, and all musicians should be aware of how this pioneering charity could help them to prevent and overcome practice-related physical and mental health problems.

Published: 27 March 2024

Read more about Celebrating BAPAM at 40
An almost silhouette of a women from behind in front of a stage in the spotlight.

Gabriella Di Laccio and the Donne Foundation: Championing Women in Music

This Women’s History Month we share a powerful guest blog from an award-winning soprano, recording artist, public speaker, curator and activist. Meet Gabriella Di Laccio, the unstoppable force behind Donne, Women in Music - a charitable foundation which is breaking records and influencing change.

Published: 14 March 2024

Read more about Gabriella Di Laccio and the Donne Foundation: Championing Women in Music
Musician with short pink hair, sat in a wheelchair at a desk in front of a laptop, mic and pop shield.

MU Supports Cheltenham Jazz Festival’s First Conference on Disability and Music

This May Cheltenham Jazz Festival will host the first Access To Music Conference, which will see industry figures gather together to explore the challenges faced by disabled people participating in music and live events. Tickets are now on sale for both in-person and online attendance.

Published: 21 February 2024

Read more about MU Supports Cheltenham Jazz Festival’s First Conference on Disability and Music