Noise Exposure in University Pep Band Members: Acoustic Measurements Versus Musicians' Perceptions

Jaime L. Roy, University of Maine


While noise-induced hearing loss has been studied extensively, little research has focused on music-induced hearing loss, which is due to loud music exposure. Previous research has shown that loud music from an ensemble can produce harmful noise levels. In the current research, noise levels were measured during Pep Band performances at hockey games in Alfond Arena and basketball games at the Cross Insurance Center. It was hypothesized that noise levels may differ based on the sporting event. In a second study, UMaine Pep Band members’ perceptions of noise exposure and opinions of hearing protection and hearing health were surveyed. It was expected that Pep Band members would underestimate their noise exposure and have little knowledge about hearing health and hearing protection available to musicians. Noise levels were shown to be at a harmful level during performances. Survey results showed that Pep Band members underestimated their noise exposure and did not wear appropriate hearing protection. Taken together, these results indicate a strong need for hearing health education for student musicians with a focus on information about music-induced hearing loss and the importance of wearing hearing protection during band performances.