Music, Musicians and Tinnitus
All kinds of music can be too loud and damaging to one's ears: pop, classical, rock, heavy metal, country, blues, dance- you name it. Learn more about the dangers of loud sound from personal stories of musicians who experience tinnitus, ways to protect your hearing and research that is being conducted that utilizes customized music to eliminate tinnitus.
Quick jump to:
- Musicians and Tinnitus in the News
- Musicians Speak Out About Tinnitus
- Tips for Music Fans and Musicians
- Tinnitus Mentioned in Songs
- Which Musicians Have Tinnitus?
- ATA Auction: Musicians Help ATA Raise Funds for Research
- Resources and Links to Help You
Noel Gallagher Diagnosed With Tinnitus
Noel Gallagher has revealed that he is suffering from tinnitus. Speaking to Talksport DJ Andy Goldstein about his problem, Gallagher said that if playing guitar in Oasis was what gave him the condition then it was "worth it". "I went for a brain scan. They did find it. I’ve got bizarre ringing in my ears. I think it’s just through playing guitar for the last 20 years so I had to sit in a tube in the hospital," He said. Discussing his hospital treatment, Gallagher continued: "The funny thing is they give you these headphones and I chose classical music. It came on and it was the exact music I play to my little kid when he goes to bed. I was in there for 25 minutes. It was horrible. I know what the results will be — ‘There is nothing wrong with you’. It’s another way of fleecing money out of you."
U.K. Tinnitus Sufferer and Musician Creates New CD
U.K. musician and tinnitus sufferer Stephen Harrison contacted ATA in 2011 with the news he had created a CD specifically engineered for tinnitus sufferers. Sounds to Soothe is the culmination of around 8 years of Stephen's personal experimentation with tones, melody, noise, soundscapes and synthesis. This collection of music has been written to mask tinnitus and provide relaxation and relief from the noises that sufferers report. Stephen composed it using sounds that he finds soothing. Stephen recently contributed an article to the Spring 2012 edition of Tinnitus Today that discusses his tinnitus and Sounds to Soothe. Hear samples of Sounds to Soothe at ATA.org/store/harrison or click the video below:
Musician Does His Part to Raise Awareness About Tinnitus
Three years ago, New Jersey musician and tinnitus sufferer Roland De Castro held what would become an annual event, the Tinnitus Awareness/Benefit Concert, a gathering of local musicians and their supporters to raise money for the American Tinnitus Association. De Castro said, “What better way to get through to musicians than through music and a concert?” Indeed, the facilitators of the South Jersey Tinnitus Support Group will be there to participate in this special event to raise awareness and funds for tinnitus research, and will be offering free earplugs at the door.
Ryan Adams Reflects on New Album, Menierie's and Tinnitus
Ryan Adams didn't write a song or even play a guitar for a year and a half. He was trying to recover his hearing, diminished by tinnitus and Ménière's disease, an inner-ear disorder that also causes dizziness and pain. "I just heard this sort of sound fog. Like a radio station had gone off the air," he recalls.
The singer-songwriter, who at age 36 has recorded 13 albums, began work on his new record "Ashes & Fire." He says, "I stopped stressing out and I also got hypnotherapy so now with the tinnitus, I don't hear the loss or that signal and my hands feel better."
"But going through these changes, letting go of music was like a trust fall. I became a normal guy and went to California for a year and a half and was not playing guitar. I was a stranger to myself so when I did play again I felt like I was starting again."
Study: Musicians Suffer Less Age-Related Hearing Decline than Non-Musicians
"What we found was that being a musician may contribute to better hearing in old age by delaying some of the age-related changes in central auditory processing. This advantage widened considerably for musicians as they got older when compared to similar-aged non-musicians,” said lead investigator Dr. Benjamin Rich Zendel at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute.
KT Tunstall Describes Her Fight With Tinnitus and Awareness Efforts
Scottish singer-songwriter and guitarist KT Tunstall, renowned for her live performances and hit song "Hold On", tells the Belfast Telegraph about her tinnitus and efforts to raise hearing loss awareness. Tunstall acquired her tinnitus in 2008 by sitting too close to the speakers at a Spice Girls concert. "I didn't know what it was and at first just hoped it would go away, but it didn't and it started to drive me mad." She is now working with fellow musicians on the Hear the World campaign.
Musician and Teacher Couldn't Find Support Group in Chicago, Forms One
Like most tinnitus and hyperacusis sufferers, getting one's life back is often a tough road and requires a system of support and understanding. When musician and teacher Joel Styzens could not find a tinnitus support group in Chicago he worked with ATA to start one. The Chicago Tribune reports as Joel sounds the call for tinnitus sufferers in the city by the lake.
Joel has also been featured on North Carolina Public Radio (WUNC). Visit ATA's podcasts page to listen to this inspirational story. Also, Joel publishes an info-packed monthly newsletter that is worth reading and subscribing to. His new CD, "Relax Your Ears", is available in the ATA Store.
Brian Fligor, director of diagnostic audiology at Children’s Hospital Boston, says that the risk of harm from noise exposure is a trade-off between how loud the noise is and how long you’re exposed to it at a time. “If you have to shout for a person near you to hear you, you need to be using earplugs.’’ Exposure to loud noise can damage the specialized hair cells in the inner ear that convert sound into signals to the brain.
Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am Speaks Out About His Struggle With Tinnitus
The Sun reports that Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am suffers from tinnitus. "I can't be still. Work calms me down," he said. "I can't be quiet, as that's when I notice the ringing in my ears. There's always a beep there every day, all day. I don't know exactly how long I've had this, but it's gradually got worse." A musician and acclaimed record producer, he is signed up to produce U2's new album, collaborating with Rhianna and Usher, all while preparing for a 2011 world tour. "I don't know what silence sounds like any more. Music is the only thing which eases my pain."
Study Spotlights Music Students’ Hearing Risks
In a study at West Virginia University, 130 music students showed a casual attitude about hearing protection (79 percent said they never wear hearing protection) despite musicians’ elevated risks of hearing loss. The study’s authors think their data “supports the need for continuing efforts to raise awareness in student musicians” about “the risks of excessive noise/music exposure." 90 percent did not wear hearing protection during ensemble performances. 53 percent said they didn’t think hearing protection was needed. Few respondents reported using hearing protection while practicing their instrument, according to the study.
After being diagnosed with tinnitus and hyperacusis three years ago, musician and teacher Joel Styzens’ career as a professional drummer came to an end, but that didn't stop him from figuring out a way to keep his passion for music alive. He switched to acoustic guitar and began the slow process of healing and creating an album of relaxing and uplifting meditations. “The process of writing the new music for the album was a form of therapy. If it weren’t for my ear problems, this album would not exist.” Check out Joel's CD in the ATA Store.
The Spring 2010 issue of Tinnitus Today features an exclusive interview with Joel Styzens. Read about his courageous struggle with tinnitus and hyperacusis and the lengths he has gone to improve his condition and the lives of other tinnitus and hyperacusis sufferers.
Joel Styzens and band play "A-Sharp" from the album "Relax Your Ears"
Pete Townsend's Tinnitus Returns After Super Bowl Performance
Rock legend Pete Townsend has said his tinnitus has returned after a blistering performance of The Who's hits at the Super Bowl XLIV halftime show. Townshend is now working with an audiologist recommended by fellow rock legend Neil Young. The audiologist recommended an in-ear monitor to prevent further damage.
Tailor-made Notched Music May Reduce Tinnitus Loudness
Individually designed, notched music therapy program may help reduce noise levels in people suffering from tinnitus, according to a recent German project. Study leader Dr. Christo Pantev, from Westphalian Wilhelms University, said the approach specifically targets the part of the brain responsible for tinnitus. "It could significantly complement widely-used and rather indirect psychological treatment strategies."
Metallica Drummer Lars Ulrich Talks Tinnitus
Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich appeared on CNN's "Health Minute" to discuss his tinnitus and concerns for the so-called iPod generation. "I try to point out to younger kids, once your hearing is gone, it's gone, and there's no real remedy."
Musicians Tackle Tinnitus
Jennifer Born, ATA Director of Public Affairs, informs us that tinnitus is a serious matter in the music world. Performers, audio engineers and listeners of all types of music are at risk for noise-induced tinnitus and other hearing damage. Jenn interviews esteemed drummer Liberty DeVitto, jazz guitar legend Al Di Meola and drummer Joe Luoma. Al is further living proof that no one is invincible when it comes to noise exposure. He is concerned about music lovers as well as musicians. “We’ve got the whole next generation – the kids of today – who think they’re going to live forever,” says Al. “They just don’t want to hear, ‘turn down that iPod.’ These kids aren’t going to need hearing aids at 60 or 70. They’re going to need them at 40,” he warns.
Tinnitus and Musicians: Protect Your Hearing
Neil Cherian, M.D., knows all about tinnitus. He is a practicing otoneurologist at the Cleveland Clinic and director of its newly launched Center for Performance Medicine. Dr. Cherian is a member of ATA’s Board of Directors. In his article, "Tinnitus and Musicians: Protect Your Hearing," he notes: “Professional musicians are in a difficult position since they rely on their ears for their livelihood, and they expose their ears to the rigors of their work. For many musicians, tinnitus can be considered a repetitive strain injury."
Al Di Meola: ATA Supporter and Tinnitus Sufferer
ATA member and guitar legend Al Di Meola discusses his challenge of being a musician afflicted with tinnitus:
Liberty DeVitto: Professional Drummer with Tinnitus
Liberty DeVitto, ATA member and long-time drummer for popular artist Billy Joel and many others, talks about his hearing loss and tinnitus:
Hearing loss and noise-induced tinnitus can be prevented.
- Walk away from loud noises and limit the time you expose your ears to loud noises.
- Limit the intensity of the noise by not standing directly near its source.
- Wear earplugs when you’re around sounds of 85 dB and above.
- Wear earplugs at concerts/go to the back of the nightclub or outside to give your ears a break.
- Turn down your CD/MP3 player or car stereo system.
- Use special, custom-made hearing protection if you play, sit or stand near loud instruments and speakers.
- Etymotic specializes in earplugs for those involved with music, with special hearing protection for musicians. ATA carries these low-cost yest highly effective earplugs in the ATA Store.
- Quiet drumsticks? Take a look at a product used widely by drummers in the profession.
- How loud is too loud?
"I wonder how you're feeling,
There's ringing in my ears."
Peter Frampton, "Show me the Way"
There are numerous songs that reference tinnitus. Click to view a list of popular songs that directly mention the experience of tinnitus.
Tinnitus and musicians have gone hand in hand since the days of Beethoven. Click to view the list of known musicians that have tinnitus.
ATA recently had an auction that featured autographed posters, guitars, drum heads, CDs, LPs and DJ equipment from: The Melvins, Paul Oakenfold, Maroon 5, The Hold Steady, Al Di Meola, The National and Steve Martin. 100% of all proceeds were dedicated to tinnitus research. ATA is currently planning more future auctions, so stay tuned.
Here is a list of helpful organizations and websites:
Sound Advice contains practical guidance on the control of noise in music and entertainment, including concert halls and theatres, amplified live music venues, pubs/clubs and studios.