Sunday, June 24, 2007

Hey, Musician-- Can You Hear Me Now?

I was pleasantly surprised to see a front-page story in today's DMN about musicians and hearing loss, featuring my old schoolmate Kris Chesky, who's now a professor at our alma mater and runs UNT's Center for Music and Medicine. Here's a sample:
Kris Chesky used to press his trumpet to his lips, fill his lungs and cheeks with air and belt out a string of notes that hit like lightning strikes. He started playing in fourth grade. After high school, he attended the renowned Berklee School of Music in Boston. By his 20s, he was a world-class musician.

He toured with some of the country's great jazz trumpeters. But the thunder from those lightning strikes added up. After practicing all day and performing all night, his ears rang until he couldn't do anything but try to sleep.

"That's when I did most of the damage," he says. "I never let my ears rest. It's cumulative. I didn't know what I was doing to my hearing."

Now Dr. Chesky, who has a doctorate in music education, is working to save other top musicians from similar afflictions.
I'll admit that this paragraph surprised me:
As many as 50 percent of music professionals suffer at least some hearing loss, according to a UNT survey. A recent Northwestern University study found that almost all incoming freshman music majors already have a playing-related physical ailment, Dr. Chesky says.
Read the whole thing, and watch a video of Kris teliing his personal story of music-related hearing loss.

I'm really glad to see that this subject is getting front-page exposure in a major newspaper. As I said a while back in my "Your iPod can make you deaf" post, I "took one for the team" a few years back and sustained a bit of hearing loss in the process. It hasn't affected my work yet, but it has made me keenly aware of the need to "rest" my ears when I'm not playing or teaching. Even though I finally got an iPod right after Christmas, I also got a pair of actual outside-the-ear headphones with which to listen to it; they're safer than earbuds, which were uncomfortable to me anyway. (OK, so that means that my next girlfriend and I can't sit side-by-side "sharing" a song, with each of us having one earbud--everybody say "Awwww!"--but I'll just work on getting the girlfriend first.) And I'm not constantly running iTunes or the stereo when I'm home, either. But assuming that my band does start gigging regularly again (that's the plan), I really need to pay my former classmate a visit in Denton and get a pair of those noise-reducing earplugs; anyone who's in the music business should consider doing the same.

A story the insurance adjuster may not have heard before: "My dog drover my car into the river!"

What's in a name? Not a number, in this case: A New Zealand couple has been informed by the government that they can't name their son "4real" because numerals aren't allowed in names. (Even though this is a funny story, it's scary to me that there's a government somewhere that is allowed to meddle that much in people's personal lives.)

The ice-cream truck for adults loses a wheel, in a way: A suburban D.C.-area restaurant is getting grief from the authorities for serving beer-sicles. It's not that they're worried about kids eating them, but rather that the practice runs afoul of a law saying that all alcoholic beverages must be either served in ther original containers or served immediately after being poured. (Now watch someone come up with a pre-packaged beersicle, just to show 'em.)

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