MIDTOWN, MANHATTAN: It’s not as flashy as a nightclub, but Musicians Hearing Solutions (MHS) is an important addition to the New York City music sector.
Founded by Dr. Julie Glick, Au.D, F-AAA, MHS brings everyone in the NYC music industry an audiology practice tailored specifically for their needs. Through MHS, she offers a range of services for professional and semi-professional listeners: in-ear monitor consultation and demonstration, custom sleeping plugs, ear impressions, diagnostic hearing evaluations, and offsite consultations for impressions or product demonstration.
With a long list of platinum and live performance artists on her client list (including 50 Cent, Alicia Keys, Bon Jovi, David Crosby, Depeche Mode, The Gaslight Anthem, James Taylor, John Mayer, Kanye West, Moby, The Strokes, Broadway bandmembers of American Idiot, Spider-Man and The Book of Mormon), Glick is bringing a decade-plus experience to her practice. She shared with SonicScoop what makes this is the right time and place for a higher-level hearing practice to hatch.
Why is a full-service audiology practice for musicians a necessity today?
Musicians rely on their sense of hearing more than most people. Ironically, the music they create when played at loud levels can be a threat to their hearing and therefore the longevity of their careers.
Loud levels of sound can cause temporary hearing loss, permanent hearing loss and/ or tinnitus (ringing in the ears) – all of which can impede how you hear music, communicate and your quality of life. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent this from happening, but it takes a proactive approach.
The first step is to have a diagnostic hearing evaluation to check the integrity of the auditory system. The next step is to consult on the type of volume levels one is exposed to. The most accurate way of assessing this is to do a sound level measure – if this isn’t possible then experience and description are very important. The general rule is if you can’t hold a conversation with someone next to you then it is too loud. Having the experience of temporary hearing loss or a muffled sensation and/or ringing in your ears after loud noise exposure is another indication of overexposure to loud sound.
Custom musicians earplugs are a great way to start in the effort of protecting your hearing. They are comfortable, since they’re custom made to your ear and also have a specially designed filter which preserves the quality of sound just taking it down to a safer level. Custom in-ear monitors are another way of controlling the level of sound you are exposed to when playing live: The custom fit provides a comfortable, passive noise isolation solution that delivers excellent sound quality so that the musician can hear what they need to hear, in order to optimize their performance but at a controlled volume level.
An annual hearing evaluation is also recommended for monitoring, or if the patient feels their environment is posing a threat to their hearing health.
That all makes a lot of sense. In particular, why is something like Musicians Hearing Solutions needed here in NYC? What makes this a particularly good market to set up your practice?
New York City ranks among one of the largest music industry markets in the world. We’re home to many recording and rehearsal studios and smaller live music venues found on the Lower East Side, to the larger world-renowned venues such as Carnegie Hall, Broadway theatres and Madison Square Garden.
All of the thousands of musicians in NYC need to be aware of the negative effects of loud noise exposure and to know that there’s a professional who works with musicians on a daily basis, who understands their unique needs, goals and settings — in order to help conserve their most important tool that is their sense of hearing.
It’s a welcome addition to the musical landscape. So who is your practice best set up to benefit? Musicians/artists, producers, engineers, live sound specialists? All of the above? How do they know if they should be paying you a visit?
This is a good question – I would say all of the above music industry professionals should pay a visit if they find themselves in loud environments that potentially pose a threat to their hearing health.
Often times, once you lose hearing due to loud noise exposure it can be permanent. I believe people tend to take their hearing for granted until it is too late. Musicians such as Pete Townshend have made a public effort to raise awareness as to the real life consequences of hearing loss and tinnitus. It’s imperative to take every step ahead of time to prevent hearing loss and/or tinnitus from affecting quality of life and your career.
Are threats to healthy hearing for music industry professionals changing/evolving as things progress?
Sound is just getting louder due to size and/or capacity of speakers – it’s not even necessarily a function of the size of venue, since even a small venue with loud enough speakers can pose a threat to your hearing health.
Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by a function of level of sound you are exposed to and for how long you are exposed to it. If you take preventative measures, such as custom musicians earplugs or custom in-ear monitors which allow you to personally monitor the volume level you are exposed to, then you’re taking a proactive approach to avoiding auditory health issues.
Thanks for these insights on our ears! Anything else?
In the interest of helping to secure a long career for our talented — and much-appreciated — musicians in NYC I would like to thank you for your interest in Musicians Hearing Solutions, and for helping to spread the word of hearing conservation.
You are WELCOME.
— David Weiss