Recent studies have shown that professional french horn players are at a higher risk for developing hearing loss. Among professional orchestral musicians, french horn players are one of the most at risk groups.
The study, which was conducted at the University of Queensland and the University of Sydney during the 2010 annual gathering of the International Horn Society, examined the hearing of 144 french horn players.
They discovered that between 11 and 22 percent of french horn players showed some form of hearing loss typical of noise induced hearing loss (NIHL). This study also found that only about 18 percent of participants used some form of hearing protection.
Even within this 18 percent, the researchers found that the hearing protection was often inadequate or only used some of the time.
Traditionally, the effects of loud noise have only been examined on rock and roll artists, with little thought given to musicians in an orchestra.
This study has shown that the issue of hearing loss is very prevalent in french horn players, signaling the need for them to take more precaution.
When individuals are exposed to loud noises over a period of time symptoms of NIHL are likely to increase gradually, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Commercial available earplugs and earmuffs designed for musicians are recommended to be used regularly to prevent NIHL.
Education is a key component when it comes to protecting musicians. Musicians, their mentors, and audiologists all need to be made aware of the lasting implications of NIHL and how to prevent them.
Even mild hearing loss can make it harder for a musician to do things like discriminate pitch. The earlier a horn player learns safe practices, the better chance they have at protecting their livelihood.
What hobby or profession do you do that is noisy? Do you take steps to protect your hearing?