Noise exposure of opera musicians

Ewen N. MacDonald, Alberto Behar, Willy Wong, Hans Kunov


A previous noise exposure survey involving the Canadian Opera Company (COC) orchestra followed several musicians over the course of two operas (Lee, Behar, Wong, and Kunov, 2005) and found that the musicians were not at risk. Since then, the COC has moved to a new building. Thus, a new study was conducted to examine whether the new venue would have an effect on noise exposure. Measurements were taken during three performances of five different operas using five dosimeters attached to music stands located throughout the orchestra pit. While the exposure levels were found to be different across operas and instrument sections, these effects were independent. In general, the exposure levels were slightly lower in the new building for all musicians with woodwinds showing a large decrease. These decreases are likely due to a larger and less enclosed orchestra pit along with fewer brass musicians playing under the pit roof. While the present study did not find evidence for a risk of hearing loss for work performed in the new venue, the musicians engage in a variety of activities outside the COC that when added to their COC work may pose a risk of noise induced hearing loss.


Acoustic variables measurement; Audition; Exposure levels; Hearing loss; New studies; Noise exposures; Noise induced hearing loss; Orchestra pits

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