The ear is the most valuable instrument of the musician, it is also a very fragile organ. Exposed to strong sound intensities for long periods, the musician's ear is likely to deteriorate early.

Hearing loss most often occurs slowly and progressively in relation to the destruction of the ciliated cells. This is why we often don't become aware of it until it is too late. Hearing loss can be a result of normal aging of the ear that occurs between 50-60 years old, known as presbyacusis. However, it can also be due to repeated exposure to loud, intense sound.

Exposure to sound levels starting at 85 dB is considered to be a risk for the inner ear. Therefore, certain limits to exposure must be respected. For the musician as well as for those whose hearing loss is related to environmental noise, a loss will appear as a notch on the audiogram around 3000Hz-4000 Hz. This means that the ear loses auditory acuity at those levels.

Audiogram showing hearing loss at 3000 Hz.

This type of hearing loss is permanent, it reduces speech recognition and it can be a detriment to the musician's practice, at this point the only recourse is the use of a hearing aid. A reduction in hearing can also occur suddenly. For example, when one is exposed to high levels of intense sound greater than 110 dB. The best way for a musician to prevent this hearing loss is to use ear protection.