A scientific study suggests people who play musical instruments throughout their lives are likely to have better hearing in their later years.
Researchers say a 70-year-old musician will have ears are strong as those of a 50-year-old non player – meaning a life in music could keep hearing 30% better than it otherwise would be. Hearing ability is known to decline naturally with age, with as many as one in three experiencing moderate loss by their 60s, and two in three by their 80s.
The Rotman Research Institute in Toronto, Canada, examined 74 people who’d been playing music since the age of 16 and remained active, and 89 people who’d never played. Researcher Benjamin Zendel tells the BBC: “We found that being a musician my contribute to better hearing in old age by delaying some of the age-related changes in central auditory processing: “This advantage widened considerably for musicians as they got older when compared to similar-aged non-musicians.”
Tests proved those who played found it easier to pick out speech from background noise than those who didn’t. But campaigners maintain it’s better to protect your hearing in younger years than risk damage. Ralph Holme of Action on Hearing Loss says: “We’ve always campaigned for everyone who plays a musical instrument or listens to loud music to wear protection, like earplugs.”