UNT Research, Volume 17, 2008 Page: 20
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Musicians enclose themselves in tiny practice rooms, where they)
play for hours with the taps of snare drums banging off the walls, or
they rehearse in ensembles where instruments blare into their ears.
Chesky, who still plays trumpet professionally, knows how this
dedication can backfire if caution isn't taken. He has noise-induced
hearing loss himself.
About 28 million Americans have some form of hearing loss,
and research by UNT and other organizations suggests 30 percent
to 50 percent of musicians report hearing problems. To combat
this, hearing-health education must begin in elementary school,
Chesky says, and continue through college.
"This is about children in general - whether they work on
a farm, ride motorcycles, mow lawns, play video games or listen to
iPods," Chesky says. "Everything is loud these days, and kids are
unaware of the related fundamental health issue."
Last spring, UNT began distributing information to its students
in instrumental ensembles, informing them of the possible danger
of noise-induced hearing loss and advising them of resources to
protect their hearing. Students are given tips such as reducing expo-
sure time to sound levels above 85 decibels, wearing ear protection in
noisy environments and resting their ears between exposures to loud
sounds. Ensemble directors and teachers such as Murphy discuss
noise-induced hearing loss and prevention methods with their students.
In addition, Chesky developed a course for undergraduate
students of any major to learn about hearing and other occupational
health issues. About 1,000 students have taken "Occupational
Health: Lessons from Music" since it was first offered in 2006.
Chesky's research is being noticed by state and national organ-
izations. The Texas Academy of Audiology is partnering with Chesky
on a task force that will promote hearing conservation among
school musicians in Texas.
"What Dr. Chesky did was bring awareness to the fact that
noise from music is in fact potentially very dangerous to a person's
hearing," says Ross J. Roeser, president of the Texas Academy of
Audiology. "Efforts like his are bringing this to national attention."
GETTING THE WORD O()U
UNT's hearing-loss education and prevention programs are
based on recommendations outlined by the university's Health
Promotion in Schools of Music project, funded by such organiza-
tions as the National Endowment for the Arts and the Grammy
Foundation. The recommendations were sent to all college-level
schools of music that are accredited by the National Association
of Schools of Music - more than 600 programs nationwide.
Chesky hopes to establish a public school-based health education
program that allows for the opportunity to learn about excessive
exposure to noise starting in first grade. Lessons about hearing health
would be as common as lessons about washing your hands, putting
on sunscreen or wearing a helmet when riding a bicycle, he says.
In addition, he has proposed that general music education teachers
should teach at least one lesson per semester about hearing health.
"In the most severe forms, noise-induced hearing loss can end a
musician's career," says Brian Fligor, director of diagnostic audiology
for Children's Hospital Boston and instructor in otology and
20 2 008 UNT RESEARCH
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University of North Texas. UNT Research, Volume 17, 2008, periodical, 2008; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc115031/m1/20/: accessed February 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting University Relations, Communications & Marketing department for UNT.