Hearing ability in Danish symphony orchestra musicians

Lise Obeling, Torben Poulsen

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    The audiograms of fifty-seven musicians from four Danish symphony orchestras were determined in connection with an interview about their working experience. Measurements of sound levels and noise dose were performed during rehearsal and during concerts in the four orchestras with the measuring equipment placed in various instrument groups. The average audiogram showed a decrease at higher frequencies similar to an age-related hearing loss. Each audiogram was corrected for the age of the person by means of the median from ISO 7029 and the average audiogram from these age-corrected individual audiograms showed no signs of hearing loss. The audiograms were also compared to the expected audiograms from ISO 1999, which takes account of the number of years at work, the number of playing hours per week, and the average sound level in the orchestra for the instrument group. In almost all cases the measured audiograms looked better than the predictions from ISO 1999. It may be concluded from this investigation that musicians cannot be expected to get pronounced audiometric hearing losses from playing in a symphony orchestra. It should be noted, though, that the data material is limited, and that the subjects have nor been selected in a systematically or representative way.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalNoise & Health
    Issue numberJan-Mar
    Pages (from-to)43-49
    Publication statusPublished - 1999

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