Hearing development in classical orchestral musicians. A follow-up study

Scand Audiol. 2001;30(3):141-9. doi: 10.1080/010503901316914511.


Using pure tone audiometry in 1995, a hearing reassessment was made in 56 classical musicians who participated in Axelsson & Lindgren's study 16 years earlier, in 1979. This study focuses on hearing development in these classical orchestra musicians, active in Göteborg, Sweden. The aim of the study is to evaluate the risk of progressive hearing loss during work in a classical orchestra. Another aim is to study possible hearing differences in females and males and to compare the high frequency pure-tone average values found in the study with two normal materials. The main findings were that the male, compared to the female musicians, showed a tendency toward a more pronounced, although not significant, hearing reduction in the high frequency region and higher threshold distribution within the 90th percentile than the females. This was found most often in the left ear. The median audiogram for all females showed a notch configuration at 6 kHz, compared to the males who had a high-tone sloping configuration. When comparing high frequency pure-tone average (HFPTA) values with ISO 7029, the females are distributed around the ISO 7029 median and well within the 90th percentile. The average among the males was equal with the median. Comparison with Davis normal population "all the sample, overall occupational group" showed a more even distribution of the HFPTA values around the median for both females and males on both occasions. This follow-up study showed no extended negative progress of the pure-tone hearing threshold values in spite of an additional 16 years of musical noise exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Audiometry, Pure-Tone / methods
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Auditory Threshold / physiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hearing / physiology*
  • Hearing Loss, High-Frequency / diagnosis
  • Hearing Loss, High-Frequency / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Music*
  • Severity of Illness Index