Viola player wins legal case over orchestral ear damage

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Britain's High Court has ruled in favour of a viola player with noise-induced hearing loss

Christopher Goldscheider says he suffered irreparable hearing damage from loud music at rehearsals, in a case likely to reverberate through the music world.

He says he suffered "acoustic shock" from sitting in front of an 18-strong brass section during rehearsals for Richard Wagner's "Ring Cycle" at London's Royal Opera House in 2012.

His lawyer, Theo Huckle, told the court that Goldscheider was exposed to an average noise level of 91 decibels over a three-hour period. Despite wearing earplugs, he suffered long-term effects including hypersensitivity to noise that forced him to give up playing and listening to music.

On Wednesday, judge Nicola Davies found the opera company had breached workplace noise rules. The amount of damages will be assessed later.

An article in the Conversation, May 2014, discussed scientific research on the matter, commenting... Professional musicians are at nearly four times the risk of noise induced hearing loss as the general population, says a new study in Occupational and Environmental Medicine. They are also 57% more likely to develop tinnitus – incessant ringing in the ears – as a result of their job. In another study, after adjusting for age and other factors such as sex and population density, professional musicians were consistently more likely to have noise induced hearing loss than the general public. For More...