Music in the Classroom

by John Bosco

Most students love doing their assignments while listening to music. Supposing a professor wanted to play background music to students working on an assignment without damaging their ears — what instrument could the professor use to ensure that the sound volume does not exceed the safe limit? Please I need to know the instrument and its specification and if possible its reliability. I believe that such an instrument could also be useful in churches where very loud live music is played. I play live music and have always felt uncomfortable when sound levels had been set high.

Thanks for this site. It is very resourceful.

Reply from Noise Help:

Thank you for your kind words. I'm glad the site is helpful!

For a professor playing background music in the classroom, it would be very unusual for the volume to reach levels that would create a risk of hearing damage. The students would need to be exposed to more than 85 decibels for eight hours (louder than a garbage disposal), or more than 91 decibels for two hours (louder than a lawn mower). In a classroom setting where the music is being played as background, I would expect that the music would become a distraction or annoyance well before reaching volumes this high.

If you want to make sure you are staying under the safe limit of 85 decibels, you can use a sound level meter to check the volume: Either a Type 2 professional meter, or a less expensive meter that is useful for musicians and audio personnel.

I agree that live music, especially with amplifiers, can reach unsafe levels. It's a good idea to wear ear plugs if you are bothered by the sound level. Ordinary foam ear plugs block the most sound, but they also make music sound muffled because they don't block all frequencies equally. Since you perform live music, you might prefer a musician's ear plug, designed for listening to or playing music, that preserves the sound fidelity. Etymotic Research makes a highly regarded musician's ear plug, which is surprisingly inexpensive. You can see the technical details here.

Kudos to you for your conscientiousness in protecting the hearing of the students and also those who listen to live music!


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