Protecting the Health of our Student Musicians

Student Health

Hearing and Neuromusculoskeletal Health and Injury Prevention

Hearing and neuromusculoskeletal health, as well as injury prevention, is important for everyone, but especially for student musicians. If you have concerns regarding your hearing or neuromusculoskeletal health or for injury prevention, please discuss them with your applied professor, area coordinator, ensemble director, or department chair. 

The information that follows and that which can be provided by the music faculty qualifies as general health information. If more information is needed or if you have serious medical concerns, the music faculty can help you find the appropriate medical professional to address those concerns, or you may follow the links below to directly contact the appropriate professional medical services.

Maintenance of Neuromusculoskeletal and Vocal Health

Students should read the following document, which provides information and recommendations for protecting student neuromusculoskeletal and vocal health:

More information on neuromusculoskeletal health and injury prevention can be obtained from your applied professor or the University of South Alabama Physical Therapy Department at: /colleges/alliedhealth/contactus.html

Maintenance of Hearing Health

If you have concerns regarding your hearing health, please discuss them with your ensemble director or the department chair. Ear plugs are available from your ensemble director or in the Music Office, LPAC 1072 should you require them for rehearsals or performances. Anyone playing or sitting near percussion instruments during rehearsals or performances are especially encouraged to use the earplugs. Whenever the band rehearses or performs indoors in close quarters, students are also encouraged to use earplugs.
A NASM – PAMA Student Information Sheet on Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
  • 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: o 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.
This information is provided by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) and the Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA). For more information, check out the other NASM- PAMA hearing health documents, located on the NASM Web site.