For professional musicians, it is extremely important to maintain good hearing health. However, they can be at increased risk of noise-related hearing damage. This has been well-documented among rock musicians as well as those who focus on electronic music.
But new research shows that hearing loss is also widespread in symphonic orchestras. While all orchestral instruments can cause hearing damage, one stands out.
Playing the French Horn Severely Damages Your Hearing Health
A comprehensive study done on orchestral musicians showed that horn players are highly at risk.
Scientists studied 142 horn players at a conference. These instruments can cause hearing damage in up to 22% of cases. For those under the age of forty, the risk was even higher.
Why Is the French Horn so Damaging?
The curved structure of this brass instrument amplifies sound a great deal. Hence, it is frequently used to play the loudest parts in a piece of music, such as fanfares.
But the volume isn’t the only culprit when it comes to hearing loss. Due to its shape, the horn directs the sound at the ear of the player. In orchestras, several horn players sit next to each other, which increases sound exposure too.
What About Hearing Protection?
Although these instruments can cause hearing damage, horn players don’t tend to use hearing protection.
The study found that only 18% of horn players use earplugs. They also tend to go for foam, which isn’t adequate.
Hence, researchers are working on creating specialized sound protection for musicians. This will preserve the quality of music and keep horn players safe from harm. It is also crucial to make sound protectors as discreet as possible.