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Hearing damage from piano?
#553524 12/29/08 04:18 PM
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Does anyone have any knowledge about the long term effects of the piano on hearing? My tech suggested ear plugs would be a good idea to protect my hearing. I hate the idea but I cherish my hearing.


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Deborah
Re: Hearing damage from piano?
#553525 12/29/08 04:25 PM
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If a piano falls on your head it will probably damage your hearing.


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Re: Hearing damage from piano?
#553526 12/29/08 04:34 PM
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I doubt anyone could develop hearing loss from playing the piano, unless it were a very large piano in a very small room. While I've heard lots of concerns about musicians' hearing, generally this involves rock musicians (who are asking for it) or orchestral players who sit directly in front of the brass or percussion sections.

Re: Hearing damage from piano?
#553527 12/29/08 04:44 PM
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Originally posted by wdot:
I doubt anyone could develop hearing loss from playing the piano, unless it were a very large piano in a very small room. While I've heard lots of concerns about musicians' hearing, generally this involves rock musicians (who are asking for it) or orchestral players who sit directly in front of the brass or percussion sections.
Not necessarily; I've gotten temporary tinnitus from a very small but very bright grand in a large, acoustically live room. mad


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Re: Hearing damage from piano?
#553528 12/29/08 04:48 PM
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Get an SPL meter, you'll get a better idea about how loud it is, and if you do or do not need to take precautions.

Normal playing in normal conditions shouldn't be a problem.

Re: Hearing damage from piano?
#553529 12/29/08 04:50 PM
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Rather certainly it will have some effect on hearing, especially if you play many hours every day (4+). I don't believe that the hearing losses could be large but who would like to get any?
Earplugs don't probably sound very comfortable, but how much would it impact when you are playing, say, finger exercises or practicing some piece with just forte and slow tempo? Overall practicing won't suffer if you don't hear everything loudly, plugs won't completely diminish the sound anyway. They can be removed when you want to perform or play pieces effectively.

Re: Hearing damage from piano?
#553530 12/29/08 05:50 PM
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Originally posted by Juishi:
Rather certainly it will have some effect on hearing, especially if you play many hours every day (4+). I don't believe that the hearing losses could be large but who would like to get any?
I'm skeptical.

What would be the source of the effect on hearing other than loudness, which is entirely within the player's control? Why would one ever play at maximum loudness for long durations?

Is there any other potential reason for hearing problems? Something related to harmonics and overtones, or even something inaudible? Would it be harmful, for instance, to listen to a dog whistle all day long every day?

Steven

Re: Hearing damage from piano?
#553531 12/29/08 06:15 PM
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I am around pianos several hours a day and after an hour my ears start to ring loudly. I have chronic tinnitus and pianos are loud enough to make it worse. I wear custom molded ear filters not ear plugs. My tuner wears ear plugs. My filters reduce the volume down 25 db and it still sounds clear enough. I actually prefer playing with them in, they help take the edge off many bright or harsh sounding pianos.

Re: Hearing damage from piano?
#553532 12/29/08 06:28 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by sotto voce:
I'm skeptical.

What would be the source of the effect on hearing other than loudness, which is entirely within the player's control? Why would one ever play at maximum loudness for long durations?

Is there any other potential reason for hearing problems? Something related to harmonics and overtones, or even something inaudible? Would it be harmful, for instance, to listen to a dog whistle all day long every day?

Steven
Feel free to be anything you want, I'm not an ear-doctor :p
Rock musician also have the noise they make within their control, why would they suffer from loss of hearing? I don't know, maybe because they produce so loud sound? The sound level of piano is higher than, for instance, human voice while talking. I don't know exact desibels but I was never talking about severe damages....
"Why would one ever play at maximum loudness for long durations?"
good question and you took my example of practicing 4 hours/day to an extreme. nobody plays like that just banging the heck out of the piano, but on effective practising you will get constant sound to your ears which is not in any way comparable to dog's barking.
I can't really express all my arguments properly but there is no need to take my humble assumption too seriously.

Re: Hearing damage from piano?
#553533 12/29/08 06:50 PM
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Huh? Old rockers from before the days of earplugs and personal in-ear monitors (which also attenuate onstage volume) are one of the deafest groups of people in the world. They turned it up as loud as it'll go with no protection.

Hearing damage that might result from playing a piano is pretty negligible compared to a a heavy-handed rock drummer, and bassist with a couple of big 8x10 cabs, the rhythm guitar, and the lead guitar.

Anyone who attends rock concerts regularly w/o earplugs is bound to have damage from the 120 dB+ wall of sound. Heck, even a typical country band can crank out as much as 110 dB+.


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Re: Hearing damage from piano?
#553534 12/29/08 06:52 PM
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Sometimes when I play a grand piano in a small room, and play a lot of really loud pieces like Liszts wildejagd and Chopins Revolutionary etude, my ears actually do tend to get a little tired (to say nothing of my fingers!!) laugh

Recently I actually prefer practising those loud etudes on a digital, just to rest my ears a bit, saving the grand for the final performances.

Re: Hearing damage from piano?
#553535 01/01/09 03:01 PM
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I don't know whether playing the piano can cause hearing loss. I suppose it might if the instrument produces a lot of volume and is played in a very small space.

Like Jazz+ I have chronic tinnitus. It started about ten years ago. At the time I was practicing on a Yamaha keyboard and using headphones so that I could play when the rest of the family was asleep. I kept the volume low but I still wonder if that caused my tinnitus or if I would have developed it anyway. I no longer use headphones or earbuds for any purpose.

My brother is a percussionist. When he was young he played in rock bands and with touring groups. Now in his 50's he reports having hearing loss.

I have heard that many orchestra musicians suffer hearing loss. I have always felt sorry for the instrumentalists who have to sit in front of the brass section.

Re: Hearing damage from piano?
#553536 01/02/09 07:51 PM
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I calculated years ago that it is easy to exceed the OSHA sound exposure guidelines playing the piano, which I did for years in small practice rooms with grands. The volume is dependent on your piano and room, of course.

Re: Hearing damage from piano?
#553537 01/02/09 08:30 PM
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I was worried about this during undergrad, so I bought myself a portable decibel meter, set it on a stand at head level right next to me in a grand piano practice room (steinway B in an acoustically uninsulated drywalled room approximately 10'x16' with about a 12' ceiling), and played a bunch of the stuff I had been working on including the first part of Chopin's 1st Ballade that reaches ff, with all the octaves (around pg 5). I found that that section was consistently around 87dB. I just re-checked on the OSHA website and found that a workplace environment of 90db for 8 hours or more requires ear protection. So my specific situation was almost in the range of recommended hearing protection if I played all loud stuff for 8 hours a day.

Note though that this is a recommendation that comes from some governmental board who may have had various competing interests when they issued this statement. The fact that my ears were tired after such exposure I think says enough to suppose that some degree of hearing damage can accumulate over years. I miss those nice practice rooms, but I am pleased in my current situation that I can turn down the volume on my digital when I'm practicing loud sections. Other than that or getting ear plugs/filters (very interesting!), I'm afraid that some degree of hearing damage is inevitable for a serious pianist.

Re: Hearing damage from piano?
#553538 01/07/09 05:01 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by Jazz+:
I am around pianos several hours a day and after an hour my ears start to ring loudly. I have chronic tinnitus and pianos are loud enough to make it worse. I wear custom molded ear filters not ear plugs. My tuner wears ear plugs. My filters reduce the volume down 25 db and it still sounds clear enough. I actually prefer playing with them in, they help take the edge off many bright or harsh sounding pianos.
I have the same problem. When I played my 6'4" grand, I had to keep the lid closed and keep the intensity down, or risk insanely ringing ears for the next 24 hours. Even with a digital keyboard, certain high notes set off the ringing. Exposure to high volumes of music (for instance, walkmans, discman, etc.) damage hearing, so why wouldn't a grand piano if it were too loud? I have hearing loss, though I cannot say if its age-related, piano playing for 30 years or abuse of headphones that caused it. I do know it sets off some pretty horrible tinnitus. frown


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Re: Hearing damage from piano?
gooddog #2952415 02/28/20 02:25 AM
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I just measured my piano's SPL after reading the posts above. From the player's position:

pianissimo: ~75 decibels

fortissimo: ~97 decibels

I never worried about it before, but I do have tinnitus and now I wonder if all my piano time might be contributing to it.

Re: Hearing damage from piano?
gooddog #2952547 02/28/20 11:23 AM
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You don’t have to buy a decimal meter piece of hardware…you can just get an inexpensive app on your smartphone for taking decibel readings. I bought one for 99 cents that works on both my iPhone and my Apple Watch. Using the app, practicing scales on my piano at a moderate volume is about 80 decibels, and it’s easy to get 90+ decibels by playing two-handed chords at high dynamic level. One of the pieces that I practice daily which has a rather continuous loud volume is Chopin etude in C-minor op. 25 no 12, and with that piece I get 85 dBA plus-or-minus five pretty much continuously.

The CDC/NIOSH guidelines listed here are lower than the OSHA one previously mentioned:

https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/noise/chart-lookatnoise.html

…i.e. 85 dBA is the 8 hour limit, and 91 dBA has only a two-hour limit.

Re: Hearing damage from piano?
scriabinfanatic #2952579 02/28/20 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by scriabinfanatic
You don’t have to buy a decimal meter piece of hardware…you can just get an inexpensive app on your smartphone for taking decibel readings. I bought one for 99 cents that works on both my iPhone and my Apple Watch. Using the app, practicing scales on my piano at a moderate volume is about 80 decibels, and it’s easy to get 90+ decibels by playing two-handed chords at high dynamic level. One of the pieces that I practice daily which has a rather continuous loud volume is Chopin etude in C-minor op. 25 no 12, and with that piece I get 85 dBA plus-or-minus five pretty much continuously.

The CDC/NIOSH guidelines listed here are lower than the OSHA one previously mentioned:

https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/noise/chart-lookatnoise.html

…i.e. 85 dBA is the 8 hour limit, and 91 dBA has only a two-hour limit.

Note that the watch has a free decibel meter included. Just run the Noise app, although I'm not sure if it matches the functionality of your app, it's still quite useful.

Re: Hearing damage from piano?
gooddog #2952592 02/28/20 01:27 PM
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Interesting...but my watch is Series 3. That says it's only for Series 4 and later.

Re: Hearing damage from piano?
scriabinfanatic #2952593 02/28/20 01:32 PM
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Ah, gotcha! $0.99 is an excellent deal, nonetheless.

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