You’ve probably heard that rock music, when played too loud for too long, can damage your hearing. But you might be surprised to learn that classical music can also reach noise levels that can damage your hearing.

Female flutist performing, hands close-up

Researchers in Toronto, Canada, studied the impact of noise on musicians in an orchestra that plays for Canada’s National Ballet. Some members of the orchestra were exposed to sound levels as high as 94 decibels, which is louder than some movie theaters. Permanent hearing loss can occur after exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels. Flutes and piccolo players experienced the loudest levels of noise, followed by brass instruments and the double bass.

Although the participants in the study were not found to be at risk for hearing loss based on their exposures, the study suggests that musicians can lessen their risk of hearing loss by protecting their hearing. Musicians rely on their hearing to play their instruments, so they should consider using hearing protectors, such as earplugs, both on and off the job.

Learn more about how music can damage your hearing.

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