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Hearing Health for Teachers and Students

Music can easily reach volumes that are loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage. If you teach or lead musical activities, make protecting the hearing health of yourself and others a central part of what you do.

Last updated: 28 July 2023

Managing cumulative sound exposure

A hazard for teachers is cumulative sound exposure, which is more likely to cause damage than exposure for short periods. You can use a free online tool to calculate the level of sound you are exposed to over the course of a day. Find a noise exposure calculator on the Health and Safety Executive's website.

Where a risk is identified, there may be ways to mitigate this in addition to using earplugs, for example by:

  • Dampening the acoustic of your teaching space
  • Structuring lessons and rehearsals to limit excess sound
  • Not scheduling the loudest lessons back-to-back
  • Minimising playing along with students.

Protecting students

Protecting the hearing of your students is just as important as protecting your own. Where appropriate, this may include discussing the issue of hearing health with them so that the potential for damage is understood. Other measures worth considering include:

  • Asking students to point their instruments away from you and each other
  • Using acoustic screens for the most powerful instruments.

If you teach loud ensembles like drumming groups, consider purchasing a set of hearing protection devices for your students. Budget-friendly filter-based earplugs are available online, as well as over-ear protectors if in-ear versions cannot be used.

The Musicians’ Hearing Health Scheme

You can protect your hearing and access musician-specialist audiologists and bespoke hearing protection at an affordable price through the Musicians’ Hearing Health Scheme. Find out what's included and who is eligible to apply. 

Sign up to the Musicians’ Hearing Health Scheme

Sound Advice in teaching context

The Health and Safety Executive’s 'Sound Advice' booklet addresses both performing and teaching contexts and is helpful as an overview of the hazards that can affect musicians’ hearing. The booklet was drafted with the help of the MU in consultation with the Association of British Orchestras (ABO) and other sector bodies.

Download the booklet

Of particular relevance to music educators is a chart of the typical and peak decibel levels created by each instrument. Charts are also available for instruments that are commonly found in classroom music lessons and in marching bands.

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