One of my college drum majors couldn’t hear in one ear though I’m not sure whether it was a congenital defect or a problem developed over time. My husband occasionally experiences ringing in his ears that may stem way back to his days as a high school drum major. And a few years ago, when I exhibited at WGI World Championships, two separate high school percussionists told me they had trouble hearing.
These incidents are not isolated. In fact, reports have found that more than 50% of professional musicians—and 26% of high school senior musicians— have hearing loss to some degree. Don’t let yourself become part of this statistic.
The answer is simple: Wear earplugs. Start this habit young and be consistent. My 8-year-old son is taking drumming lessons and already getting used to the earplugs as well.
Go further than that and educate yourself by reading the article “Hear Ye! Hear Ye!” The story gives you all the facts on daily noise exposure limits, decibel levels for various instruments including flute, trumpet and cymbals, as well as how various bands and drum corps are dealing with this very real issue. And if you’re concerned that earplugs will distort your ability to hear your director or the performers around you, don’t be. There are special musicians’ earplugs that avoid muffling.
You wouldn’t ride a bike without a helmet. So don’t do band—or even practice your instrument—without earplugs. It all comes down to being prepared.
However, even with the right planning, sometimes challenges arise. With hundreds of people, driving thousands of miles, needing gallons of water, eating pounds of food, sleeping in random places and carrying fragile instruments and equipment each day, drum corps are ripe for all sorts of emergencies.
Drum corps have experienced everything from smashed bus windows and traffic accidents to kitchen fires and water shortages. Yet somehow, the corps and the people involved manage to come through stronger in the end. The article “Drum Corps 9-1-1” shows how fast action, community involvement and downright kindness can help anyone shine through in adversities.
We hope these stories will help you keep safe. Enjoy the rest of your summer and keep on marching.
Christine Ngeo Katzman
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief