Who’s complacent?

What or how much are we willing to sacrifice to continue to promote some of mankind’s greatest creative achievements, namely classical music?:

Musicians could be required to wear earplugs “at all times” following a landmark ruling on hearing loss.

In the first case of its kind, viola player Christopher Goldscheider claimed he suffered hearing loss while playing at the Royal Opera House in 2012.

A High Court judge ruled on Wednesday that the company had been in breach of regulations regarding noise at work.

The verdict has “profound implications” for the future of live music, said the umbrella body for British orchestras.

“It effectively says an orchestral workspace is no different from a factory,” said Mark Pemberton, director of the Association of British Orchestras.

“What it says is that musicians will need to be wearing their hearing protection at all times.

Here is the full BBC story.


"Classical" music is deader than a doornail.

It only exists because the super rich write big checks to keep it going.

And movie studios - what, do you think John Williams is a rock composer? Symphony orchestras play more than classical music, after all.

Yes, I imagine in the future John Williams and few other film composers (perhaps Miklos Rozsa) will be part of the classical music canon.

The very definition of complacent: playing the same thing for hundreds of years.

Perhaps. But what we see art (aesthetic objects) as having peaks and vallieys? The golden age of predominantly Austrian music was a peak, as was French dominated Impressionism. We are drawn to it because it is superior to what has come after it.

I say cultural peak or touchstone; you say complacent.

Very few people are drawn to it.

Those who play it can discern differences in every performance. It's like fine wine -- people who drink it regularly can tell the difference. For everybody else, it's pretty much all the same.

It only exists because the super-rich insist that *you* - at the point of a gun - write checks to keep it going.

More and more, the legal professionals demonstrate that they are the priesthood of the "democratic" secular religion. Judges are the ayatollahs of the western world. Attorneys and barristers are its imams.

Wait until you see this, then - 'This presentation will explore the duty of certain employers to accommodate disabled musicians, to protect against dangerous workplace noise, to provide medical leave, and to compensate work-related injuries. We will also examine creative strategies to protect musicians who may be denied statutory protections because they work for smaller employers or are deemed independent contractors.'

I now know that the link to this online education resource will work. It is from audiologyonline /audiology-ceus/course/protecting-musicians-with-hearing-loss-1743

(Though maybe it is https is used in the link that is the problem.)

Who drafted the laws the judges enforced?

The UK legislation is probably the country's implementation of the EU Noise Directive http://www.dw.com/en/symphonic-music-may-suffer-under-eu-noise-directive/a-2790295

Using the authority of laws by the EU equivalent of the US Congress.

George Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, et al bad idea to dodge taxes, that required taxes to fund sustaining the rebellion, thus the first enumerated power of Congress.

Sound was used as a prototype for mass destruction during the world-wars.

These days, sound is used as music.

However, classic music is created without advanced protection devices such as ear-guards and ear-phones, unlike modern music that is recorded at recording studios.

If someone lost their ability to sense sound while playing classic music, then it is serious enough that precautions must be taken to prevent further situations from occurring.

Wearing (h)ear(ing) protection is a good move that would make sound peaceful and delightful to listen to, as music.

Lots of musicians have been wearing ear plugs for years, with something like 9 dB, 15 dB or 25 dB flat frequency attenuation.

There is even online courses involving the subject, in this specific case from 2012.

Though oddly, it seems as if a link to audiologyonline is unacceptable to post, though what is the problem with a normal address plus articles/clinical-verification-custom-fitted-musicians-11373 is very hard to see.

Would you assess this "lots of musicians" as meaning 5% or 95% have adopted this?

What if anything has kept musicians from adopting these on their own initiative?

Does the symphony now require that they be work at all times, irregardless of employee preference?

What the implications for employees at convert venues, clubs, bars etc?

A lot of workplaces have rules regarding personal protective equipment (PPE), which may include Nomex fireproof coveralls, steel toed boots/shoes, hardhats, gloves, goggles, etc.. In my experience, most of this PPE is required and either company provided or subsidized (e.g. they will pay $X a year for work boots, to make up the difference between steel toed and regular). My hard hats went in to recycling a few years ago.

Well, since we are talking about the UK, maybe this 2008 paper will help? www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrpdf/rr664.pdf

And in the incredibly small sample size of 19 musicians they interviewed in depth, 2/3 of the musicians used hearing protection.

'What if anything has kept musicians from adopting these on their own initiative? '

Well, in that 2008 paper, this was reported - 'Hearing protection was provided free of charge by the employers of fourteen of the musicians
interviewed; three of the musicians purchased their own hearing protection either because they were self-employed (2) or they didn’t like the type of protectors supplied by their employer (1).'

Thanks for the on point reply.

They shoulod provide eye protection too. All those bows moving back and forth.

An excellent decision that was long overdue. We know today that there’s basically no such thing as "age-related" hearing loss, it’s all because of noise. So no noise, no serious hearing loss. We also know that the noise in an orchestra is extreme and leads to serious hearing loss for sure.

From my experience most people don’t know what hearing loss really means. It’s not “just” the hearing loss, it also comes with hyperacusis, tinnitus, vertigo, and depression. It’s really serious. You only know what hearing loss really means when you got it but then it’s too late. This judge seems to be really good at his job.

The idea of no "age-related" hearing loss has me scratching my head wondering what my father-in-law has been doing the past couple decades to caused his continual decline. No rock concerts or heavy equipment. Was it the lawnmower?

"We know today that there’s basically no such thing as “age-related” hearing loss, it’s all because of noise."

I don't think that's a correct statement. There are numerous factors and it's not just noise.

"Age-related hearing loss"

"Family history (age-related hearing loss tends to run in families), Smoking (smokers are more likely to have such hearing loss than nonsmokers), Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, Certain medicines, such as chemotherapy drugs for cancer"


Yes. Lawnmower. Contemporary christian church rock music services. Movie theaters. Popping packing bubbles. Standing next to a gas pump TV while filling your tank. Being on the sidewalk when a Harley passes by. Watching TV with my father....

@John Mansfield
"Was it the lawnmower?"

Yes indeed. A lawnmower is absurdly loud. Use it without protection for a few years and your permanent hearing loss is sure. It starts with the very first use and adds up every single time you don't wear protection. As I said: Most people are completely ignorant about this, but it's mostly noise. Lawnmowers. Chainsaws. The noise at work. Digital Audio Players. Concerts. You name it. It's not that hard to figure out.

You can think all you want, I work in this field since 30 years. It's mostly noise. And let's assume for the sake of the argument it's also “age”. Give me a call when you can prevent peole from aging. Excessive noise on the other hand can be EASILY prevented.

We also know this: Indigenous peoples with no contact to excessive noise have close to zero hearing loss. They can get 80, 90 years old, whatever. Still basically no hearing loss. The evidence is overwhelming.

Au contraire mon frère. There is definite age related hearing loss and you can predictably figure someone's age by what sounds they can hear (assuming no overlying hearing loss beyond "normal". I've run this by a small number of subjects and it works. Now if as you imply above this is not hearing loss and hearing loss is defined as hearing loss that is not age related (i.e. defined by hyperacusis, tinnitus, vertigo, and depression) then we have a semantic disagreement.


"An excellent decision that was long overdue."

So, dude was just too stupid to know that loud music damages your hearing - despite our benevolent government telling us so for years - so it takes a benevolent government to demand all those evil symphonies STOP PREVENTING their employees from using hearing protection.

Because that's what was happening, right? Poor guy was told he'd be fired if used ear plugs? No? Then why was this ruling needed at all when he could have used hearing protection at any time he chose to?

This reasoning would never stand in the US. If it did the NFL would have to shutdown. They're certainly way in violation of OSHA. You want at armed insurrection in America? Best way to get that is to cancel football season by judicial decree.

But what if only orchestras are shut down? Will America rise up in righteous fury and trample out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored?

The NFL will finally die when poor people weigh the high risks that come with playing the sport in school against the astronomical odds of success.

In other words, never.

As soon as the children of parents who played in high school make their way through the system, NFL as we know it is toast. The league's talent feeder system will collapse.

Already, parents across the country are drawing a line. In my town, Lacrosse is growing exponentially - it's football without the tackles, and hockey without the 5 am ice time.

At some point, the idea that parents once willingly pushed their young children into deliberate repeated violent collisions will be viewed as inconceivably barbaric. Many people are finding it increasingly difficult to watch football in good conscience. The more we learn, the harder it is to be a voyeur to that sort of damage.

I agree with most of your points but the talent will simply come from overseas, and the poorest in the US. It's already trending that way. It is true that the middle class and higher will stop playing, like most trends from the coasts inward. Texas will be the last place where the non-poor still play.

"Imported talent."

That's an interesting thought. I agree that the south will be the last to shut down, and may obstinately hang on for a generation or more longer than the rest of the nation.

But what if the US youth pipeline essentially slows to a trickle, what happens to college sports, and the pros? Would the NFL still get TV viewership, ticket sales,and merch sales revenues if operating solely on a foreign mercenary player pool?

Bonus question: what nationalities will become the best farm systems for the NFL?

PS. See below. Another interesting question is: the poor may want to play, but what happens when schools shut down their programs due to liability concerns?

Like every other sport, people root for laundry. It's all about Roll Tide or Go Wolverines (or Cowboys or Niners) or whatever, doesn't matter who is wearing the helmets, the sport will always have an audience. It may plateau and even decline a bit but it's not going anywhere.

There's already a fair amount of overseas players from Polynesia playing as linemen. A few Australians and Africans too. Between overseas, the inner cities, and the poor and poor-ish South, there will always be players.

The colleges that aren't big football schools may start dropping it, but the 40-50 big time programs will never stop. The pros will find talent wherever they need to, maybe have minor leagues to replace some of the college programs. As I said, it will fade in popularity but never all the way. It will be more like a regional sport, like Nascar.

"we root for laundry"

I generally agree with that. People have grown immune to caring about mercenary players.

But I do wonder if we only cheer for sports we identify with?

I mean, sure, football might survive as a sort of cult WWF freak show regionally, but possibly only a shadow of its former self?

That's why I made the specific point about "poor people." Should have been more clear: "low socioeconomic status parents."

What you're observing about parents not sending their kids to football is likely in the middle class. Middle class kids dropping out of the talent pool will have a negligible impact. Low SES parents will continue to send their kids off to slaughter and the talent pool will be fine.

Veiwership will possibly decline when we get a middle class that no longer cares about football because neither they, nor their kids played, and the NFL will have to compete with dog-fighting, cock-fighting, and MMA for viewers.

More like compete with Nascar. Agreed on your points, it will fade but always be there.

Interesting question. Will football:

(1) Die completely
(2) Become some watered down low-contact sport
(3) Shrink into a more regional sport (and quite possible become MORE violent in perverse cultural backlash...)

There is one other wildcard: will player lawsuits over a concussion coverup kill the NFL, and if so, will a replacement emerge?

Boxing was at one time a major sport in the U.S. It still exists, but not nearly what it once was. Football will go the same way. Not today or tomorrow, but in 50 years it will be a minor sport like boxing.

Or will it go lingerie?

Joking aside, why don’t they make it safer?

Rugby is an intense, high quality, high drama sport—they don’t even wear padding.

Why doesn't Field Hockey , popular in may countries in Asia and Europe ( and Australia and NZ as well) grow more in popularity ? It would be hockey without the 5 AM icetime too.

Its football without the tackles - you just sling a hard little projectile at each other at speeds of up to 200 miles an hour.

Much safer.

Ever since the Kapernik Kneeling started, the Red States have been anti-football. Since the Red States are also the ones armed, predominately, they won't rise up if football in cancelled. My gun-owning Packer fans in Wisconsin have been quite conflicted.

re "football cancelled"

Interest point. How exactly will it die? I hadn't thought about that specifically.

I see a decline in interest, leading to less viable leagues and a portion of the best talent moving to other sports.

Your post makes me realize that perhaps it will be schools and junior leagues that simply stop operating football out of liability concerns and parent pressure....

My first question: is hearing loss common among players? The article does not provide Ana answer.

It's a sure thing if you don't use protection. I assume (or at least I hope) that most professional players are using protection now. Just google Lars Ulrich and find out how he feels about not wearing protection for way too long. It's a nightmare.

Ear buds connected to smart phones are creating a future generation of the hearing impaired. Hearing loss, as one astute commenter points out, is more than a nuisance. I'm of the age of the mildly hearing impaired. For me, the biggest problem is background noise: I can't hear when there's background noise. An example is a restaurant, where I have a difficult time hearing those with whom I am having dinner because of the background noise. I'm not alone, although I sometimes feel I'm alone when I'm left out of the conversation. My grandfather was an army surgeon in the Spanish American War and the Philippine American War, where he served for almost seven years. On his return to America he stopped over in London for several years to receive training in otolaryngology. He died long before I was born, so I don't know why, but I have always assumed it was because of the hundreds if not thousands he treated who suffered hearing loss in the war zone. Sure, hearing loss suffered while playing in an orchestra or wearing ear buds is not the same as hearing loss suffered in a war zone, but the consequences are the same. What did you say?

There is a huge difference (IMHO) between working in an environment in which your body is exposed to likely damage and damaging your own hearing by self-abuse. There are a LOT of professions in which certain segments of the population have increased risks, and the balance between no, reasonable, and over regulation is arbitrary. Ideally we as a society determine what our risk tolerance is for a given generic service or product and regulate accordingly. Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, this leads to both less-than-benign neglect of some pretty serious hazards (NFL, NHL, etc. concussions) and over-regulation (OSHA regulating amount of open space below stall walls in restrooms). I doubt if many professional musicians would voluntarily (ceteris paribus) choose a workplace likely to damage their hearing if given a reasonable alternative. It is the nature of, say, (professional) ballet and boxing, that the practitioners will damage their bodies - approaching 100% certain. I'm all for regulating it - either they shouldn't be paid positions or the workers deserve best-technology protection. I'm pretty sure Einstein's accomplishments will stand the test of time, but Bach? I'd be interested in learning whether Bach is revered as signalling (like TC ) or is actually (as best we can determine) acultural. My guess is that "great" music is partially cultural, partially psychological and partly physiological...but in 1000 years? Will our descendants (if any) be able to appreciate "Classical" music? If so, perhaps it is part of what makes us Human. ...

"One day the last portrait of Rembrandt and the last bar of Mozart will have ceased to be— though possibly a colored canvas and a sheet of notes will remain—because the last eye and the last ear accessible to their message will have gone.” (Spengler)

I guess, then, a rose by any other name won’t smell as sweet.

"I doubt if many professional musicians would voluntarily (ceteris paribus) choose a workplace likely to damage their hearing if given a reasonable alternative"

And *of course* there are reasonable alternatives (less than $300):



And *of course* there are reasonable alternatives (less than $300):

Indeed. That's top end on the passive side. There's perfectly workable protection for well less than that.

"There’s perfectly workable protection for well less than that."

Yes, I was just pointing to something that is explicitly designed for musicians:


And at $300, it's well in the range of a high school football helmet:


So basically, this is a non-problem.

Wait -- "self-abuse" can damage my *hearing*? All this time I've been worried about going blind!

Film is today's novel. Soon enough, people won't read books, won't listen to music, their only communication will be visual, mostly with symbols. And with grunts. It will be a man's world. Again.

“Film is today’s novel.”

This sentence is the only part of your post that is true.

My dad had quite noticable hearing loss, and he was in the Navy during WW2. He never saw combat, though. I assume his hearing loss was due to loud noises during basic training, like gunshots and cannonfire. Near the end of the war, he was pulled off his work in Navy intelligence and taught to throw hand grenades. And then suddenly the war was over. You won't hear me saying anything bad about nuclear bombs.

I read once about a classical player who said there had been a step change in the problem when classical trombonists adopted the same sort of trombone as the jazz players used, which produced a greater volume. He must presumably have been referring to the swing bands of the late 30s and 40s. I don't know enough about trombones and their playing to know whether this is a plausible yarn or a leg-pull. Anyone?

Helmets for sports players, ear protection for employees in loud places... I have no problem with this.

As an adult who wrecked his hearing playing rock music in high school, and now live with intense tinniness that I will never hear silence again, I have no problem with this.

Hockey survived the helmet rule, despite the protestations of the toothless veterans who are now all dead from CTE.

lol: "intense tinniness."

That's my favorite auto-correct ever.

tinnitus, of course.

From the article: "If the Royal Opera House had 'complied with its statutory duty the claimant would not have been exposed to the level of noise which he was,' she concluded." Level of noise. Ouch.

Yes, obviously not a classical music fan.

FWIW. Since my hearing is declining, and my doc says it is still getting worse due to contemporary ongoing damage, I got a decibel meter app. What you quickly learn is how loud many things are in everyday life, and how many of those are doing damage to your hearing. It's not just shotguns, electric guitars, and power tools.

I now use ear protectors when I chainsaw.

I only shoot one bullet into one deer every autumn so I don’t use ear protectors hunting.

I can't speak for the UK. But, standard work place rules in the US require hearing protection. I don't see why the "Arts" should have special rules. Or at the very least, require personal waivers to shield the organization from liability.

The image of a musician wearing earplugs seems funny, but, really there's a lot to be said for using earplugs in noisy environments.

The image is funny because one imagines the musician can't hear anything with the earplugs in place, but they do nothing of the sort: one can still hear everything (e.g., it's not like listening to a horn with a mute in it) just at reduced volume.

Everyone sorta knows that hearing is logarithmic, but that's why by the time something sounds really loud there's enormous sonic energy present (because one must increase power exponentially to compensate for that logarithmic response).

The question is, if earplug-wearing becomes common, will the loudness of those CNN-playing TVs in airports increase by 30dB to compensate for the earplugs, just to be sure you're getting the message?

Indeed. In fact, most pop music performers above a certain level now utilize ear pieces that both block out damaging sound, and provide in-ear monitoring. Thus replacing the finicky and feedback-inducing floor monitors.

PS. I don't know about the airport, but those gas station TVs are going to go ballistic

Not if we boycott the stations whose A-Hole owners install them.

"Not if we boycott the stations whose A-Hole owners install them."

Or get careless with matches...

I wear earplugs quite often.

Always on airplanes.
Always on subways (e.g. the Chicago El).
Always at loud concerts.
Sometimes at loud bars.
Sometimes walking around in big cities.

More for personal comfort than caution. I'd do it even if there wasn't a risk of hearing loss. The reduction in stress level is amazing.

I've noticed that, particularly on airplanes, I can hear everything, all conversations, as well or better as I could without them. Sound is relative - people shout at 95 db over the 90db background. When I wear -30db earplugs, I hear 65db conversation over the 60db background. The biggest problem is one naturally attenuates their voice to the surroundings, so I have to remember to shout very loudly (or so it feels) if I want to be heard / seem normal.

I also wear mid-range over the hear headphones both without earplugs at work and with them while traveling. The perceived sound is almost unaffected.

With modern earplugs you can hear everything. You can talk, you can hear music, you can watch movies, you can make music, you can sing, no problem.

Modern ear protection is "just" reducing the level of noise so that the noise doesn't damage your ears anymore. No relevant information gets lost. Most people don't seem to know this.

The halls are alive with the sound of nothing.

But how are the hills? Tell me the hills are unchanged.

Fools, said I, you cannot sing
It will damage your hearing
And the judge passed out his warning
In the rules that he was forming
And the sign said the words of composers are written on the bill in Braille
And they tell a tale
Written...in the sound...of silence

Maybe I'm just cranky but I've always hated how excessively loud music concerts are. It's not pleasurable to listen to music at 115 Db. I simply do not want to be in the same room as something that loud.

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