Thesis Committee: Dewey Lawson, Robert Brown, Ronen Plesser, Calvin Howell (exofficio non-voting member)
ABSTRACT: High school and college marching bands routinely rehearse
and perform in a number of locations, including band rooms, auditoriums,
practice fields, and football stadiums. Each of these common locations,
as well as others unique to specific ensembles, provides varying risk of
A Larson Davis System 824 Precision Sound Level Meter and Real Time Analyzer was used to record A-weighted sound pressure levels while bands rehearsed and performed. At all times during measurements the researcher wore ER-25 flat response musician s earplugs. The microphone of the System 824 was either placed on a tripod or affixed to an extension, depending on whether the measurement was inside or outside, moving or stationary; the goal in all cases was to place the microphone as close to the subject s ear as possible without interfering with their duties as band members. The researcher marched extensively with the bands to gather data in a realistic environment.
Using NIOSH recommendations for safe occupational exposure, data are presented according to whether they present no risk for the duration of the measurement or the estimated exposure time, risk for the estimated exposure time but not the duration of the measurement, or risk for both the duration of the measurement and the estimated exposure time. Specific locations in the bands as well as different situations (indoor and outdoor rehearsals and performances, drums only, rehearsals without the drumline, etc.) are analyzed. In addition, an acoustical analysis of a rehearsal hall demonstrates that acoustical modifications to the room would be unsuccessful in reducing exposure levels.
Resulting data indicate a significant risk of short- and long-term hearing loss as a result of rehearsing and performing with marching bands. Exposures that would be considered illegal in the workplace are accepted as commonplace in educational environments. Students and band directors must take steps to recognize the risk posed by various instruments and various locations on the field, and must implement hearing conservation efforts.
Here is the thesis in PDF: jkeefe_thesis.pdf (about 2.4 MBytes)