We need to hear well to play well...

The Musicians' Union advises that if the level of sound is at all uncomfortable, use earplugs to soften volume - and especially peak sounds.

During the band dinner, we looked around at the breadth and depth of specialist knowledge that we have - so we should draw on this. We're none of us getting any younger and, thanks to Jane, we now know that there is a syndrome called “presbycusis” - age related hearing loss frequently caused by exposure to excessively loud noise.

Thanks to John who monitored decibel level throughout an evening's rehearsal we know that - even focussed at the centre of our playing - sound levels did not exceed 80 db. This is within the zone that is unlikely to cause hearing damage even on a sustained basis.

However, it is noticeable that professional musicians are increasingly wearing ear plugs/phones and, where the stages are stepped, are using perspex noise-deflecting screens.

Ear plugs are a sensible precaution - and there is no stigma or criticism to anyone wearing them. It is widely recognised that playing quietly is more difficult than playing loudly - and requires a level of skill that can be hard to achieve as an amateur.

Looking for earplugs that are both comfortable and practical, a couple of us have been pleased with our purchases of ALPINE MUSICSAFE PRO.

Links: Thinking about ear plugs reminded me of one of my favourite YouTube clips that includes a practical demonstration – fit at 55”; deploy at 1’.15”…

Mahler 2nd symphony brass choral Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, D. Gatti - YouTube

Musicians Hearing Scheme | How to Protect Your Hearing | Musicians' Union | The MU (musiciansunion.org.uk)