Academic journal article Journal of Band Research

Noise Doses of High School Band Directors

Academic journal article Journal of Band Research

Noise Doses of High School Band Directors

Article excerpt

Abstract

Previous studies demonstrate that many high school band directors show signs of noise induced hearing loss. The present study measured the noise doses of high school band directors. Five high school band directors located in northeast Illinois wore an Etymotic Research ER200D noise dosimeter throughout a normal day of teaching, including extracurricular ensembles. This study explored how the overall noise dose of the director was influenced by the acoustical environment, class schedule, teaching style, musicians, and literature selection. These doses were compared to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) guidelines for noise exposure in industry. The noise doses of all five directors were found to surpass NIOSH guidelines. The extent to which they exceeded the guidelines varied greatly (3.4x, 7.3x, 1lx, 14x, 20x), as did the variables that influence noise dose. Hearing conservation recommendations and strategies are presented.

Noise Doses of High School Band Directors

High school band directors face the problem that music making can damage something it requires: hearing. The ear is an amazingly sensitive, but delicate, organ. When someone is exposed to a sound that is loud enough and long enough, hair cells in the ear are damaged and permanent hearing loss occurs (Howard & Angus, 2001). Hearing loss caused by excessive exposure to sounds, not other factors such as age or disease, is classified as noise induced hearing loss (NIHL). NIHL is often a gradual change and may go undetected for years. Individual susceptibility to NIHL varies greatly (Toppila, Pyykkö, and Starck, 2001).

Sound Measurement

Sound pressure levels (SPLs) are most commonly measured in decibels (dB). Human perception of volume is roughly logarithmic. Decibels are also logarithmic - meaning that a doubling of sound intensity causes a SPL increase of approximately 3 dB. Most research on human hearing uses A-weighted decibels (dBA), a measurement that accounts for the relative loudness of sounds as perceived by the human ear, since our ears' sensitivity decreases for extreme high and low sounds (Howard & Angus, 2001). Sound exposure is the sum of the intensity and duration of sounds experienced by an individual over a specified period of time. The sound exposure of an individual is measured with a dosimeter, a meter that logs the SPL automatically at a set time interval. Sound exposure is calculated by factoring the duration and loudness of sounds (Owens, 2003, 2004).

To express noise measurements that vary with time, researchers use a single number called the equivalent continuous noise level (Let]). This value is measured in dB and represents the continuous SPL which would produce the same sound energy over a given period of time as a specified sound over the same time (Howard & Angus, 2001). The maximum instantaneous Le

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