Student volunteers from the Hearing Loss Prevention (HLP) Lab in Fairchild Hall provided a free Hearing Wellness Program for the School of Music. The program was delivered in Cook Hall and included a risk questionnaire, visual inspection of the ears, traditional hearing test, electroacoustic testing, and counseling and education.
The program was coordinated by Hannah Mahon, a third-year student in the Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) program within the Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) Department. She was assisted by a first-year Au.D. student, Clara Marchini. Both Mahon and Marchini are musicians interested in hearing loss prevention. Several undergraduate students who are heading to graduate school volunteered also, including Hannah Belke, Marysue Cicciarelli, Toryn Davis, Emily Ferguson, and Aaliyah Gladney.
The project was initiated by the HLP Lab faculty advisor, Antony Joseph, Ph.D., Au.D., assistant professor in CSD, and an occupational audiologist. The project began with sound level measurements of the rehearsal rooms in Cook Hall and dosimetric monitoring of faculty members, mainly music conductors. Sound measurements were taken by doctoral students, Hannah Mahon and Heather Maze. This was followed by a series of site visits to the School of Music to provide hearing wellness support for the faculty and staff. This was followed by a hearing wellness program for the student musicians.
Repeated education and entertainment-related excessive sound exposure can cause auditory injury over time, so prevention is key. Student and faculty musicians should be aware of hearing wellness, use hearing protection, and participate in a hearing loss prevention program.
Student musicians expressed that they would like the screenings to be offered in the future. Many students were from the Wind Symphony and Symphonic Winds ensembles. They commented about their apprehension about receiving a hearing test out of concern that a real problem might be discovered. Students appeared very appreciative for the free service and the education provided.
So far, more than 75 faculty and student musicians from the School of Music have participated in the HLP Hearing Wellness Program. The HLP Lab plans to continue these services for the benefit of our Illinois State musicians and audiology students.