In my Winter Haul 2016 I mentioned that I recently bought the EARASERS, special earplugs that let a portion of sound into the ear while still blocking harmful decibels up to 19 decibels.

Earasers BoxWhen I read the Earaser product info I thought of sunscreen- allowing me to be outdoors but not as concerned about a sunburn. The earasers would protect my ears but still allow me to be an active listener in the ensemble.

A bit of background on the Earasers. They are a product that was developed over 20 years by a professional musician and an established hearing aid company. This was not a gadget created on a whim. And it has a price tag more affordable than custom earplugs, only $40.

Since purchasing I have put them to the test in Large Orchestra Rehearsals/Performances as well as Pit Orchestra Performances.

Right away I realized a Secure Fit was key to the Effectiveness of the Earasers. It was important to get the Correct Earaser in the Corresponding Ear AND Facing the Correct Direction (small side up) for Full Sound Protection.

As a woman, I had bought the Size Small. The brochure recommends women purchase Small and Men purchase Medium for differing Ear Canal size. And sometimes I wondered if they were still too big to get in and seated properly, but that might have been my learning curve working with a new product. Not Rushing was a key factor for me in the fit and placement.

In the gig I played with the Brass heavy Bruckner Symphony No. 4 and later the Pines of Rome, the Earasers saved me but I almost wondered if they were enough. And this included a Sound Shield with Earaser combination.

Sound Shield w Giraffe
My seat in Orchestra with the Clear Sound Shield that I used in combination with The Earasers.

I learned in the rehearsals that I had to be extra sure that before we began I put them in correctly creating a brochure recommended “tight seal”. And then I needed to leave them alone throughout the piece. Don’t Touch!

If not placed properly the brass was still overwhelming. And even when placed properly I still felt a wall of sound coming at me, making me wonder if I needed further sound protection.

If I took them out and then tried to quickly put them back in, for short delicate phrases between brass moments,  rarely did I get them placed right. And then there was definitely NOT enough Sound Protection.

EarRaser copy
The Earaser with the RED STRIPE goes in the RIGHT EAR. Blue in Left. Smaller Side Up.

This could be considered a possible CON of the Earaser. In a quick acoustical change you can not quickly shove it in your ear and be Good to Go! Before using Earasers I could get away with this. The Big Squishy Orange Earplugs custom form to the Ear Canal.

On the other side, the PRO of the Earaser vs the Squishy Foam Orange Earplug was that once placed in the ear I was still able to react to a level of the musical experiences around me. I did not have the same amount of my own reed and instrument vibration in my inner ear (head) that outweighed the sound of the rest of the ensemble.

And when the conductor was speaking in between musical moments I could almost always still hear the suggestions without removing the Earaser. The conductor didn’t end up sounding like an Adult in the Peanuts Comics- various timbres but no words. Woohoo! Definite improvement over the squishy orange ear plugs.

Foam EarPlugs.JPG
Squishy Orange Earplugs from ACE Hardware Store.

Another PRO was that the Earasers are clear and not as Attention Seeking as my Large Squishy Orange Ear Plugs. I didn’t feel like I was announcing to the audience and my colleagues- “Hey, the Brass are Awesome. They’re really going for it Tonight!”

My work in Pit Performances this last month had a unique set up that included the piccolo sitting directly to my left. Dangerous, as the sound launched out of the end of her instrument and into my ear. Without a set of earplugs I think it might have created permanent damage. Damage to the piccolo, that is! 😉

The smaller pit orchestration fit perfectly for the Earaser. Sound was let in through the patented V filter allowing me to interact but not finish the concert series with a headache and a bit of hearing loss.

IMG_1703
Here is the key chain metal tube. It’s quite narrow and tall.

A little bit about storing the Earasers. When I purchased from the Earasers from Miller Marketing I was given two options of storage,  a plastic case that came with the Earaser and a metal tube with a keychain attachment. I tried using the metal tube and quickly realized that the Earasers are Bouncy Little Devils.

The Metal Earaser case is Narrow and Oblong. In order to get the Earaser out of the tube I had to bounce the tube against my palm. The tube was too narrow to reach into and pull the Earasers out. And the Erasers are plastic and like to stick together inside the metal tube.

When I hit the tube against my hand they bounced off of my hand and went under the woodwind platform on the stage. During break I had to start looking for them with the  flashlight on my phone. Not at all embarrassing. 😉

Earasers Plastic Case.JPG
Short Plastic Earaser case. This is the case the product is shipped within.

I’ve found I am much better off using the plastic case that is short and wide enough to reach into with my fingers. The plastic case also allows me to put the Earasers into my bassoon case. I had been worried about the green metal Earaser case hitting my bassoon and creating any dents or hitting any rods and bending them.

Overall I am going to continue using the Earasers AND my Squishy Orange Earplugs based on ensemble and scheduled repertoire. For moments when I need just a bit of sound protection the Earaser is great but for when I need full safety- I will use my Orange Squishy Earplugs.

Lucky for me I had the Earasers in my purse during a recent JSU band concert in an acoustically vibrant church. It was more intense than a Rock Concert.

But It got me thinking about additional applications. I can only imagine how great they would be for beginning band directors. It would allow the conductor to still hear the students but not risk their hearing and it would be relatively inconspicuous. So Important!

I’d love to hear your impressions of the Earasers. Leave me a comment and tell me about your experiences.

HAPPY BASSOON-ING in front of Brass, EVERYBODY!

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