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    Tuesday, September 27, 2005

    Occupational Hazards: Maybe the movie Drumline, isn't so hyperbolic after all:

    Joseph Keefe, a Duke graduate who works with an acoustical consulting firm in New Jersey, measured sound pressure levels experienced by band members at Duke and at a local high school in Durham, N.C. At indoor and outdoor rehearsals and during games, he often found levels above 100 decibels for drummers and other percussionists, and for anyone unfortunate enough to march near brass instruments.

    While that might not be as noisy as a construction site, which can produce levels of about 110 decibels, band performances can be noisy enough to threaten at least temporary hearing loss. "Plenty loud is a good way to put it," Mr. Keefe said.

    A marching band is loud enough that, over the course of a rehearsal or game, it can exceed workplace recommendations by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, which are based on both noise level and time of exposure. At a typical football game, between warming up, and playing in the stands and the halftime show, band members can be exposed to loud music for several hours, said Mr. Keefe, who played the drums in the Duke band.

    "If anything, sound levels are slightly higher outside," Mr. Keefe said, because band members are often told to project more in a stadium to reach far-away fans. "The longer you stay in it, the worse it is."

    Don Peterson, director of the marching band at Brigham Young University, said he typically has a headache at the end of a football game, although he doesn't even listen directly to the band. He wears a headset to hear cues from the stadium's technical director to know when to play. Rehearsals are very noisy as well. "The band room we have, if OSHA ever were to take a reading in there, we'd be in prison," he said.

    Maybe Harry Dinkle should add ear plugs to his product line.

    P.s. While your visiting Harry, check out the science of marching shoes. Who knew it was so complicated?

    posted by Sydney on 9/27/2005 09:10:00 PM 0 comments


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