This is a topic that has concerned me for some time and after doing some research for this week’s tip, it appears my concerns are valid. Occasionally I have entered another studio mid-class and as I am about to apologise to the teacher for the disruption, I notice the music playing so loudly that only a simple hand wave as I mouth the word ‘sorry’ will do. I quickly get what I came for and leave as it is starting to hurt my ears.
Now, if this is making my eardrums rattle after only a brief encounter what is it doing to the teacher and the students over a longer period of time? Noise-induced hearing loss or NIHL has been long recognised in industries such as manufacturing, the military and in musicians but there is very little known about the effect it is having on the dance industry. Dancers feed off the energy louder music gives out and if you are teaching a tap class then the music needs to be loud enough for the tappers to hear over their feet so there has to be a safe yet practical option for teachers to work towards. 1. Turn the sound down. The WHO (World Health Organisation), report that exposure to noise above 85db for long periods of time can cause damage. A 1hr dance class at a level of 94db once a week is safe but add just 9 more decibels and that time is reduced to just 7.5mins.
2. Measure the Db range with your smartphone app. There are loads of apps for this but check their ratings as some work better than others.
3. Ask someone. If you think, after reading this that you may be playing your music too loud then ask another teacher to drop in mid class, or ask the a parent to sit in for a few minutes one lesson. They love feeling included and it shows you are concerned for student welfare. But, don’t forget to test the Dbs and if it says it’s safe but you’re still concerned then just turn it down a little more.
If you teach toddlers and very young students then you need to be even more cautious. If the music is too loud then they start to switch off and play up. This is usually due to the fact that they are still developing their language and communication skills. If they can’t understand you because they can’t hear you then they won’t concentrate.
Remember, this is your workplace and you are entitled to work in a safe environment but you must take steps to protect yourself. If you have been teaching for a long time then you may already have mild damage and not even know it.
Take care of yourselves and your students so that you may all continue to enjoy a love of music and dance, whatever the genre!