Many people who work with music like to setup home recording studios, especially those who are running a business as a music producer. In addition, music teachers need to consider protecting themselves and their students from damage to their hearing.
Several inexpensive modifications can be made to areas to make them optimal for use as music rooms. These modifications can be accomplished without any special technical knowledge or you can call on the services of an acoustical engineer, which is costly but may yield dramatically improved acoustic environments
Some general things you can do:
- Trumpets and other treble brass instruments should be placed on risers. Most of the damaging energy of the trumpet is in the higher frequency ranges, and these high-frequency treble notes tend to emanate from the bell of the trumpet like a laser as high-frequency damaging sounds will go over the heads of those other musicians downwind. In addition, the trumpet players will not need to play as hard for their sound to be heard clearly. By the time the trumpet sound reaches the conductor, the levels are not nearly as damaging as for those immediately in front of the trumpets.
- A highly reflective surface, such as a blackboard, behind the teacher/conductor is the worst possible wall covering. High-frequency sounds tend to reflect off such surfaces thereby adding to the overall intensity level in the room. Moveable drapes or thick curtains can be hung over the blackboard (or concrete wall) to absorb these unwanted reflections. They can then be pulled aside when the blackboard is required.
- Carpeting can be used at the front of the room where the conductor stands. Not only will this absorb some of the undesirable reflections, but will also allow the music teacher to stand for longer periods of time without danger.
- Wall and floor coverings are the two easiest methods you can implement. Heavy drapes and carpeting are essential to absorb many of the undesirable reflections. If you can afford it a drop ceiling is also an excellent investment.
- 3-D relief art would make an excellent wall covering for the side walls of the music In this location, the art will not be visually distracting and at the same time absorb many of the undesirable mid- and high-frequency reflections.
- Many musicians and teachers use custom made tuned earplugs called the ER-15 These allow all of the music to be attenuated (lessened in energy) equally across the full range of musical sounds. The low-bass notes are treated identically as the mid-range and high-frequency treble notes leaving the music balance unaffected. These earplugs have been in wide use since the late 1980s.
- The human ear is much like any other body part- too much use and it may be damaged. The ear takes about 16 hours to “reset”. After attending a rock concert or a loud session at school you may notice reduced hearing and/or tinnitus (ringing) in your ears. And if your hearing was assessed immediately after the concert, one would find a temporary hearing loss. After 16 hours however, your hearing should return to its “baseline” (hopefully normal) level. After a loud session or concert, don’t practice for 16-18 hours.
All information is provided in the interests of Hearing Health education and is of a general nature. In all cases you should consult your doctor or other allied health professional for advice regarding your individual circumstances.