Sound exposure of professional orchestral musicians during solitary practice

Ian O'Brien, Tim Driscoll, Bronwen J. Ackermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

It is broadly acknowledged that professional orchestral musicians risk noise-induced hearing pathologies due to sound exposure in rehearsal and performance. While much has been published regarding orchestral sound levels, little is known of the sound exposure these musicians experience during solitary practice, despite the many hours they spend engaged in this activity. This study aimed to determine sound exposure during solitary practice of 35 professional orchestral musicians, representing players of most orchestral instruments. To allow cross-comparison, participants were assessed playing similar repertoire in a controlled environment, recording simultaneously at each ear to determine sound exposure levels. Sound levels were recorded between 60 and 107 dB LAeq, with peak levels between 101 and 130 dB L C,peak. For average reported practice durations (2.1 h per day, five days a week) 53% would exceed accepted permissible daily noise exposure in solitary practice, in addition to sound exposure during orchestral rehearsals and performances. Significant inter-aural differences were noted in violin, viola, flute/piccolo, horn, trombone, and tuba. Only 40% used hearing protection at any time while practicing. These findings indicate orchestral musicians at risk of noise-induced hearing loss in ensemble face significant additional risks during solitary practice. Data presented will enable more effective and targeted management strategies for this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2748-2754
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Volume134
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

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