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Tinnitus taboo among musicians, composers and artists

Tinnitus taboo musicians composers artists

Concerns at Ministry of Health

More and more people have poor hearing, and this worries the Ministry of Health. For example, recent research in Rotterdam found incipient hearing loss in one in seven children between the ages of 9 and 11. That’s why the ministry wants to know from the Health Council what needs to be done to prevent hearing damage. That advice comes Wednesday.

Stephen Emmer is a celebrated composer of many television tunes, including those for the NOS News and RTL Boulevard, and also created the jingles of television quizzes. This week he announced that he is a tinnitus patient. “Among musicians, composers and artists, it’s a taboo. While I estimate that as many as a third of an average orchestra – including the top orchestras – suffer from it.”

From fighter jet to small noises.

Tinnitus or tinnitus means that you continuously hear sound in your head. It can have several causes, including exposure to loud noise – at a concert for example – or a cold. It can also vary in severity, Emmer said. “From fighter jet to just a small noise.” Tinnitus can lead to severe hearing loss.

Emmer finds that musicians with tinnitus don’t talk about it for fear of losing their jobs. “They don’t dare mention it to the conductor or the management.” While having tinnitus doesn’t have to mean producing less quality music, Emmer experiences. “I think I did my better work after the ailment. I have even received (internationnal) awards for that work as well.”

Emmer is coming out now because he wants to unite artists to ensure that a cure is sought. According to him, the pharmaceutical industry says not enough people suffer from it to develop medication. “While a quarter to half of young people are at risk. That statement by the pharmaceutical industry is outdated.”

More research

Who also wants action is René van der Heijden, in daily life working in the marketing and communications department of NOS. He and others founded the Ear Fund because, he says, there is hardly any research being done on hearing loss. That pharmacists have so little interest in hearing damageis ridiculous, he thinks. “They then simply write off 1.8 million Dutch.”

With the “Give Ear Research Hearing” campaign, the Ear Fund advocates for more scientific research into solutions. Van der Heijden: “Research works. For example, earlier research was done on my own ear condition: DFNA9. There is now theoretically a drug for that, which increases the hope that my children will not get this hereditary deafness.”

“The message is often: you just have to learn to live with it.” (René van der Heijden, co-founder Oorfonds)

Hearing damage but one of the many causes of hearing loss. Van der Heijden: “30 to 50 percent of people have poor hearing due to heredity.” And there is no real treatment. “The doctor sends you to the audiologist or you just have to learn to live with it, is often the message.” Crazy, thinks Van der Heijden. “You don’t say that when someone gets sick, do you? That you just have to live with it?”

Van der Heijden recognizes the trepidation of coming out with hearing problems. “Just like in the music industry, in the media world – and in other industries as well – it’s very much a taboo. If you tell people you have serious hearing loss, you’re already written off. It is also associated with being old when in fact there are many young people with hearing problems.”

Feeling music

Shouldn’t the sound volume just be less loud? There have long been calls for lower volume in nightclubs and festivals, for example, as well as on your earphones or headphones. That’s one of the steps, Emmer thinks: “That discussion about loud sound is stuck right now. People in the music industry claim that you have to feel music. That’s a fallacy. As a professional, I can tell you that you can feel the music even when the volume is lower. That’s why I want to unite artists to say for themselves: it’s like this.”

Buma/Stemra sides with composer Emmer. The music copyright advocacy organization has 38,000 members, all music creators. Buma/Stemra thinks that this will certainly include people who suffer from hearing problems and tinnitus, and are afraid to tell them.

[Source: NOS News Editorial]