If you have just started playing with a rock or metal band, protecting your hearing both while you perform and practice should become part of your routine. Hearing is measured in decibels, with the normal "safe" hearing level being under 85 decibels. Anything above this level can cause hearing damage after frequent exposure. Concerts tend to have a level around 120 decibels. Here are some steps you can take to help protect your hearing while enjoying yourself with your new musical endeavor.
Watch Your Placement
When practicing or playing in a concert setting, position yourself so you are not directly in front of the speakers. Many people in bands enjoy being in the direct path of the sound so they can hear cues from other instruments. This is very harmful even for small exposure times. You will need to train yourself to listen for cues from other band members at a lower sound-level, but this change in routine will save your hearing in the long-run. Positioning yourself so speakers are on either side of you will still save your hearing if placing them a bit in front of you is not feasible.
Get Everyone Involved
It should be a group effort to take precautionary steps to keep sound in check when playing in a band. Have your sound control operator keep the level of the volume at a constant state rather than sneaking it up to get the crowd moving. If they are informed of the highest sound level they can use, they will be able to alert band members with a signal when sound is at the maximum level. The band then can switch up their routine by playing a slower song to bring the volume back to a safer level. This will save all band members as well as the audience from a volume overload.
Wearing earplugs can reduce the amount of sound pollution that reaches your eardrums. Earplugs and hearing aids come in an array of styles, many which are unnoticed by people spectating. There are also earmuff-type hearing reducers which can be worn when desired. These can be quickly placed over your ears during louder sounds and taken off during somber numbers. Dress up your look with a hat to cover the appearance of these protective gear choices if you wish to keep them hidden from the crowd. If you have longer hair, you can quickly hide sound protection devices by wearing it down. Headbands can also help keep them from sight.
When performing, drinking alcohol can quickly alter the perception of sound. Drinking excessively can cause the auditory cortex in the brain to shrink over time. When this nerve is not working properly, the brain becomes unable to process the sound level the ear receives. Sounds may seem quieter than they are in reality. Rather than take the chance in thinking you are safe with the current sound-level when under the influence of alcoholic beverages, wait until after your performance is over to have a celebratory cocktail with the rest of the band.