I was waiting for a train yesterday and a was treated (not really) to a performance of "I'm Sexy and I Know It" from the headphones of the girl standing next to me. The song is fun, but not only does my ability to hear it defeat the purpose of headphones, it's likely destroying this girl's hearing too. This is pretty common problem among our iPod generation; music has become a personable experience and we want to encapsulate ourselves in it to experience every ounce of its energy and passion, so we turn it up (ironically for all the world to hear). That's great that you love your music, but if you want the ability to complain about the music of "kids these days" ( not to mention work in music since thats generally the goal around here) in 20 years, you need to turn it down and take some precautionary measures. Music might be great but what's the point if you destroy your ability to hear it in the process? Here's some tips on making sure you don't:
Find A Doctor
There are medical professionals who specialize in hearing and hearing loss and can help you gauge how your hearing is currently and get professional tips for keeping it in tact. Those who specialize in hearing may be listed as audiologists but you can also find one through an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor (ENT)- also known as an otolaryngologist. These medical professionals can be an important source of information for protecting and monitoring your most valuable asset as a musician.
Keep the volume of your iPod, laptop, or whatever else you're listening to at about half of its maximum volume. If you're not sure if it's too loud, take your headphones out and see how well you can still hear the music. The key here is that you shouldn't still hear it.
If you're like me, you've already been to about 142 too many loud concerts and have noticed some signs that your hearing may have taken a toll. If your friends and family constantly tell you the TV is turned up too loudly, listen to them. Just because you can finally hear it doesn't mean it isn't actually causing more damage.
Get some. And use them. Sure, it may not be cool, but it's cooler than yelling "what?" every time someone asks you a question. Make use of earplugs anytime you're around loud noises for an extended period such as a concert, bar, fireworks, etc. I know you're saying yea right and probably aren't going to do it but you're better off looking a bit odd now than regretting it later.
Be A Loser
Yes, I know these tips are getting increasingly pathetic as far as your coolness goes but let's focus again on the fact that you may already have noticed times where it's a bit more difficult for you to hear things that others have no problems with (and if you're not there yet, you probably will be soon if you don't take action). Don't be afraid to be the weirdo who covers their ears like a little kid when there's a fire alarm at school or an ambulance passing by as you walk down the street. Don't be afraid to actually wear those earplugs. Don't be afraid to actually turn down your headphones. It may not seem great now but I promise your future self will thank you when you can still work in and hear music 20+ years from now.