Some 6 million teens in the United States suffer some form of loss of hearing, and this number has increased considerably over the past twenty years. While authorities say that this hearing loss is in part caused by sustained exposure to high volumes of music from phones and MP3 players, taking part in marching band is another possible cause. As almost every city high school and university has a marching band, participation is a very common activity among teens.
Hazardous decibel levels for teenagers.Noise levels are measured in decibels, also written as dB. Children and adults can suffer hearing loss from exposure to noises in excess of 85 dB. Some of the instruments in marching band can easily surpass the 85dB mark when the teens are practicing or performing. For example, Duke University students were exposed to decibel levels of 99 over a half hour during drumline practice. What can be even more damaging than playing those instruments on the field is playing indoors for rehearsals. Unfortunately, many youths don’t reduce the volume of their instruments when playing inside.
Strategies for hearing protection and hearing loss prevention. An effective solution for reducing sound levels is the use of musicians earplugs. These professional earplugs are designed to fit perfectly in the teen’s ears. Musicians earplugs can be expensive, which may be a problem for parents. Another effective strategy for protecting young people’s hearing is to reduce the length of time they are exposed to potentially harmful sound levels by breaking up the rehearsals into shorter sessions. Band leaders and participants also need to be aware of how important it is to lower the volume of their instruments when practicing indoors. To best protect the hearing of marching band members, a joint effort between students, band leaders, and parents is recommended.