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The benefits of making sense of sound

Author: Stephen Compton (MArts, PhD Candidate, Acoustic Consultant, Music Technician, Theatre Sound, Audio Education)

People often associate loud music with good times. To some people, loud music helps them feel part of a larger social group; to some, loud music helps them escape from their normal day-to-day; to others, the music, words, and performance connect with them on an emotional level. For musicians and audio engineers, making sense of sound provides significant mental, physical, and social health and employment benefits by improving cognitive ability, motor skills and being a creative way to make a living.

Those involved in sound and music creation and amplification must manage their sound exposure appropriately, or the same activity that provides significant benefits can negatively affect the person concerned, their sound choices, and others. Fifty percent of musicians and 46% of audio engineers have some hearing damage, and the WHO estimates that 1.1 billion young people experience music-induced hearing loss. More than 50% of musicians experience tinnitus, robbing them of ‘hearing’ silence. “Mmmm, wouldn’t it be nice to record silence and play it back at full blast to make a room quiet?”

For musicians, audio engineers, and people who love music, good hearing is essential for critical listening, making appropriate sound choices, and maximising musical enjoyment. There is hope. While the statistics mentioned can sound alarming, they also prove that many people have found ways to be damage-free in noisy environments. We at Hear This Education Aotearoa NZ want to encourage and show people tools to be as damage-free as possible to enjoy the benefits of good hearing and improve their hearing longevity.

Research has shown that early hearing management invention is beneficial. While many of our educators consequently focus on the young, I lean towards those who create, mix, amplify, and enjoy sound. I am working with musicians and audio engineers to improve the live sound balance between audience satisfaction, artistic integrity, and safety at venues and events in New Zealand through education, site-safe training, and increasing event safety options.

We would love you to have you journey with us in this necessary cause for the benefits that good hearing brings to individuals and society as a whole.

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