Hearing loss, earplug use, and attitudes to hearing protection among non-orchestral ensemble musicians

Ian O'Brien, Elizabeth Francis Beach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Music-induced hearing loss and its prevention among professional musicians has been researched extensively, but there has been less attention on musicians playing in non-orchestral ensembles. This study's aim was to survey musicians from brass, pipe, concert or wind, and jazz big bands regarding their perceived risk of music-induced hearing damage, rates of selfreported hearing loss, and use of earplugs and acoustic screens while playing in ensemble. A questionnaire was administered to 257 Australian band musicians and the data were compared to responses obtained previously from 367 orchestral musicians. The results showed that band and orchestral musicians had similar rates of self-reported hearing loss, but band musicians were significantly less likely to perceive risk or use protective equipment when compared to orchestral musicians. Among the band types, pipe band musicians had the highest incidence of hearing loss, greatest awareness of risk, and highest rates of earplug and screen use. In contrast, brass band musicians demonstrated poor risk awareness and a reluctance to use protective equipment. These results suggest that a band-specific approach to hearing conservation is needed to develop appropriate and effective strategies that account for the widely differing cultures and work practices of the various non-orchestral ensembles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-137
Number of pages6
JournalAES: Journal of the Audio Engineering Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


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