Hearing, Neuromusculoskeletal, and Vocal Health

NASM and PAMA have developed comprehensive documents dealing with Hearing Health, Neuromusculoskeletal Health, and Vocal Health. The following are brief summaries of that information provided by NASM:

Protecting Your Hearing Health

  • Hearing health is essential to your lifelong success as a musician.
  • Your hearing can be permanently damaged by loud sounds, including music. Technically, this is called Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). Such danger is constant.
  • Noise-induced hearing loss is generally preventable. You must avoid overexposure to loud sounds, especially for long periods of time.
  • The closer you are to the source of a loud sound, the greater the risk of damage to your hearing mechanisms.
  • Sounds over 85 dB (your typical vacuum cleaner) in intensity pose the greatest risk to your hearing.
  • Risk of hearing loss is based on a combination of sound or loudness intensity and duration.
  • Recommended maximum daily exposure times (NIOSH) to sounds at or above 85 dB are as follows:
    • 85 dB (vacuum cleaner, MP3 player at 1/3 volume) – 8 hours
    • 90 dB (blender, hair dryer) – 2 hours
    • 94 dB (MP3 player at 1/2 volume) - 1 hour
    • 100 dB (MP3 player at full volume, lawnmower) – 15 minutes
    • 110 dB (rock concert, power tools) – 2 minutes
    • 120 dB (jet planes at take-off) – without ear protection, sound damage is almost immediate
  • Certain behaviors (controlling volume levels in practice and rehearsal, avoiding noisy environments, turning down the volume) reduce your risk of hearing loss.
  • Be mindful of those MP3 earbuds. See chart above.
  • The use of earplugs and earmuffs helps to protect your hearing health.
  • Day-to-day decisions can impact your hearing health, both now and in the future. Since sound exposure occurs in and out of school, you also need to learn more and take care of your own hearing health on a daily, even hourly basis.
  • It is important to follow basic hearing health guidelines.
  • It is also important to study this issue and learn more.
  • If you are concerned about your personal hearing health, talk with a medical professional.
  • If you are concerned about your hearing health in relationship to your program of study, consult the appropriate contact person at your institution.

It’s common sense: Protect your hearing. You will need it for your life, your health, and your career as a musician.

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Protecting Your Neuromusculoskeletal Health

  • Neuromusculoskeletal health is essential to your lifelong success as a musician.
  • Practicing and performing music is physically demanding.
  • Musicians are susceptible to numerous neuromusculoskeletal disorders.
  • Some musculoskeletal disorders are related to behavior; others are genetic; still others are the result of trauma or injury. Some genetic conditions can increase a person’s risk of developing certain behavior-related neuromusculoskeletal disorders.
  • Many neuromusculoskeletal disorders and conditions are preventable and/or treatable.
  • Sufficient physical and musical warm-up time is important.
  • Good posture and correct physical technique are essential.
  • Regular breaks during practice and rehearsal are vital in order to prevent undue physical stress and strain.
  • It is important to set a reasonable limit on the amount of time that you will practice in a day.
  • Avoid sudden increases in practice times.
  • Know your body and its limits, and avoid “overdoing it.”
  • Maintain healthy habits. Safeguard your physical and mental health.
  • Day-to-day decisions can impact your neuromusculoskeletal health, both now and in the future. Since muscle and joint strains and a myriad of other injuries can occur in and out of school, you also need to learn more and take care of your own neuromusculoskeletal health on a daily basis, particularly with regard to your performing medium and area of specialization.
  • Follow basic protocols when working at computers and in the studio: adjust your seating, use proper posture, and take frequent breaks.
  • If you are concerned about your personal neuromusculoskeletal health, talk with a medical professional.
  • If you are concerned about your neuromusculoskeletal health in relationship to your program of study, consult the appropriate contact person at your institution.

Protecting Your Vocal Health

Vocal health is important for all musicians and essential to lifelong success for singers.

  • Understanding basic care of the voice is essential for musicians who speak, sing, and rehearse or teach others.
  • Practicing, rehearsing, and performing music is physically demanding.
  • Musicians are susceptible to numerous vocal disorders. Many vocal disorders and conditions are preventable and/or treatable.
  • Sufficient warm-up time is important.
  • Begin warming up mid-range, and then slowly work outward to vocal pitch extremes.
  • Good posture, adequate breath support, and correct physical technique are essential.
  • Regular breaks during practice and rehearsal are vital in order to prevent undue physical or vocal stress and strain.
  • It is important to set a reasonable limit on the amount of time that you will practice in a day.
  • Avoid sudden increases in practice times.
  • Know your voice and its limits, and avoid overdoing it or misusing it.
  • Maintain healthy habits. Safeguard your physical and mental health.
  • Drink plenty of water in order to keep your vocal folds adequately lubricated. Limit your use of alcohol, and avoid smoking.
  • Day-to-day decisions can impact your vocal health, both now and in the future. Since vocal strain and myriad other injuries can occur in and out of school, you also need to learn more and take care of your own vocal health on a daily basis. Avoid shouting, screaming, or other strenuous vocal use.
  • If you are concerned about your personal vocal health, talk with a medical professional.
  • If you are concerned about your vocal health in relationship to your program of study, consult the appropriate contact person at your institution.

More Information

NASM PAMA Student Guide Standards | NASM PAMA Hearing Health