A series of conversations between an American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), Rockville, Md, audiologist and an elementary school band leader proved to be a teachable moment with lasting effects.

When ASHA audiologist Pam Mason met Lydia Laidlow and learned about Laidlow’s steel drum orchestra, Mason asked if Laidlow’s musicians use appropriate ear plugs during rehearsals and performances. Mason used the opportunity to educate Laidlow on the dangers of noise-induced hearing loss from exposure to loud music and how it could adversely affect her musicians’ social and educational development. Right then Laidlow decided to enforce hearing protection use for all members of the band.

A recent performance by the 24-member Tropical Breeze Steel Orchestra (with ear plugs securely in place to protect each musician’s hearing) highlighted ASHA’s health hearing event held at the national office. Nearly 250 staff members attended the lunch-time event that offered education on the risks of noise-induced hearing loss, how sound levels are measured, and when and how to take precaution when in noisy environments.

Mason, ASHA’s director of audiology professional practices, said in a statement released by the organization that "as a result of ongoing education efforts, some musicians are beginning to take precautions to protect their hearing, which is good. However, unfortunately many musicians are putting their hearing at risk every time they play their music by not taking simple precautions such as appropriate use of ear protection."