Topic: Earplugs

Should musicians wear earplugs in a band or orchestra setting?  What style do you recommend?

I ask this because my school is going to be performing Mahler's eighth symphony in the spring.

- Allen R. Hall

"The same people that make toasters make showers--for they have a turney-button, too, that lies."  -- Eddie Izzard


Re: Earplugs

Hi Allen:
See this thread .  In the 3rd post I have some links to earplugs.  People who own special plugs really like them.  I don't have any like these because the orchestra I play in has the horns behind me instead of the trumpets.  But when I do play in an orchestra with trumpets behind me and if they are too loud, I use bunched up Kleenex or just the cheap ear plugs.  I suppose if I regularly played in an orchestra with trumpets behind me, I would go for the specially fitted earplugs.  Take care, Kent

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: Earplugs

Hearing is precious -- like our eyes, ears are "one pair to a customer" and no artificial substitute exists. Protection for prolonged or repetitive loud sounds of any variety is necessary for persons of all ages -- including those still in school!

Many orchestra and band environments include sound exposures louder that those sugested by the Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a reality for anyone exposed to excessive sound levels over time. NIHL is permanent, progressive, and cannot be treated -- the main method of care is PREVENTION (caps intended!).

There are many  types of hearing protection available to the musician today; I'd encourage those interested to go to the website of Etymotic Research, Inc., probably the premier provider of effective hearing protection items ( Musician earplugs ("attenuators") come in several degrees of protection, and in seveal forms of plugs -- check out their site to see the possibilities.

I've used their 15 dBA attenuators for nearly 20 years, in band, orchestral, and chuirch settings. They have helped keep my NIHL levels quite stable for most of those years. I also encourage any young musician who is likely to be exposed to excesive sound pressure levels to obtrain a baseline audiogram, through his or her primany physician and performed by a licensed audiologist.


Dr. Bill Dawson, bassoonist and teacher
IDRS medical consultant
Past President, Performing Arts Medicine Assoc.
Author of "Fit as a Fiddle: The Musician's Guide to Playing Healthy"


Re: Earplugs

A variety of hi-fi earplugs is made by EAR and consist of a series of concentric cups (rather like swimmers' earplugs). There is a small channel from the outside, through the cups to the ear cavity. The sound has to bounce off a reflective cap before travelling down the channel. thus the intensity is reduced without affecting the frquency range.

I have on rare occasions used such plugs in concert (esp 1812 outdoors with howitzers). However I found my perception of sound around me was impaired as my own "bone-conducted sound" was higher in relation to outside sources. I did not like the limitations that this imposed although I am sure the plugs were helpful in protecting my hearing from damage.

Regards Neville

Last edited by NevilleForsythe (2006-10-11 01:16:09)

Neville Forsythe
Christchurch New Zealand
Bassoonist / Teacher / Conductor