Jeff Snider is a classic working musician, having spent most of the past 15 years or so as a drummer for the touring companies of various Broadway shows. This fall, he will work on the highly anticipated 20th anniversary tour of the Pulitzer and Tony-winning musical, RENT. One year ago, he won a pair of 2X-S custom in-ear monitors and a dB Check in-ear sound level analyzer from Sensaphonics in a Better Hearing and Speech Month contest. He describes the resulting upgrade in his stage monitoring experience as a revelation.
Currently, Snider is on a Princess cruise ship off the shores of Alaska, playing drums and percussion in a 7-piece show band, plus multiple backing tracks and a click track. He mixes his own monitors through an Aviom system. “Since it’s the same setup every night, I have the luxury of dialing things in perfectly, then recalling the settings,” he reports. “With the 2X-S, I can actually monitor around 70 dB and still hear everything perfectly. It’s pretty cool. That’s what keeps my hearing from getting worse, and I’ve got Sensaphonics to thank for it. If you want to do music as your career, be smart and respect your ears.”
Jeff Snider has played a wide range of jobs, including the Dick Clark Cavalcade of Stars, a series of USO tours playing with bands like Kansas and the Doobie Brothers, and major pop gigs like the Barry Manilow’s Copacabana tour. Today, his focus is on touring theatricals, with credits including The Color Purple and The Addams Family. The upcoming RENT tour has already booked over 300 shows in 75 cities.
“Drumming for these shows requires a lot of flexibility,” he notes. “You have to be a chameleon, doing rock, jazz and funk, playing Latin percussion, tympani, xylophone – whatever is called for – and doing it well. I guess I’m not too bad at it, since I’ve been lucky enough to be employed pretty continuously for over 30 years now.”
Having worked in the era when hearing wellness was not a priority on tour, Snider has suffered some hearing loss, but has learned from his Sensaphonics experience that he can preserve his hearing and keep things from getting worse. He has some advice for other musicians.
“The beating my ears have taken over the years has been a lot, and I’m still paying the price, like having a serious case of tinnitus and a bit of high-end loss,” says Snider. “Over the past year of using Sensaphonics, I learned there’s no reason to do that to yourself. I encourage everyone to be smarter than I was. Take a little preventive action. Get some custom molded earplugs and in-ears, preferably soft silicone. I’ve got to tell you, it makes a world of difference. If you’re serious about your music, it’s where you want to be. And we’re talking about your ears! If you’re a professional musician, where else should you spend your money? Believe me, 20 years from now, you’ll be glad you did.”
Founded in 1985 by Michael Santucci AuD, Sensaphonics Hearing Conservation Inc designs and manufactures custom-fitted earphones and electronics designed to achieve safe, high-resolution audio in mission-critical applications. Serving a primary customer base of professional musicians and sound engineers, Sensaphonics products are used exclusively on all manned NASA missions and on the International Space Station. Other markets served by Sensaphonics include house of worship, theater, broadcasting, motorsports, aeronautics, and audiophile listening. Sensaphonics is committed to the preservation of hearing through superior products, audiological services and audio consulting, enabling longer, more productive careers and richer quality of life.
Image credits: Jeff Snider; Sensaphonics; © Aleksandar Bracinac | Dreamstime.com