Hi all.

 I promise to get much better at this NZ Bands blog in terms of timing of the blogs, but considering I've just moved house this isn't too bad for getting something in this month.

 This month, I want to discuss something that's pretty important to all bands wanting to get 'out there'- hearing.

Yes, I may sound like your mum but it is true point that as musicians, we need to look after our hearing so that we don't wind up deaf by 33 (or for that matter, deaf at all). But often, the issue is that we as musicians either don't know what's out there or can't find something that meets our needs. So, for my blog this month I'm going to give some tips regarding hearing protection.

1. Don't use the cheap foam earplugs you get from the $2 shop. Not only do these muffle your own hearing, it actually does more damage than not. The reason for this is because the foam ears dig right into your ear drums and create a mould of sorts on it's own- but the further in you place these foam ears, the more it starts to penetrate your eardrums. But even if you don't put it right in, the sound is too muffled for this to be effective, so avoid these cheap foam ears if you can.

2. Don't mess with your amps volume too much. I volunteer at a music session at my local community centre and the problem there I find is that amps keep getting turned up to try and match the other amped up instruments, when really I want to be hearing a bit of everything- but if one person turns up the amp, everyone else has to as well, and by the end of the night, your hearing is as battered as a hot dog that's been undercooked. So in this respect, spend 5 minutes to find your sweet spot (or even mark it on your amp), and then leave it.

3. Professional ear moulds may be extremely expensive, but if you save the money then it's worth it. I have an endorsement deal with Pacific Ears and they provide me with some high-quality ear moulds for a small price, but not everyone has this luxury. Ideally, while you would be paying two prices (one for the product and one for the moulds that the company would make the monitor from) it is very well worth investing in as unlike your cheap, rubbish plastic foam earplugs, these don't muffle your sound and they are made for your ears so they will give you best protection for your ears.

4. Earmuffs from the garden shed aren't too bad- but it's not necessarily the best thing in the world as they can slip on you easily during a gig (especially if you bounce around a lot or are a drummer)- but if you must, then that's good for a short-term thing.

5. If all else fails- put your gear down, turn off the amps, pack up your stuff, and run for the hills (Please note that this one is sarcastic humour and should not actually be taken seriously, but in worse case scenario may be the only thing to do, it's happened before).

Right, that's me for December. Will be back in the new year.

Until then, stay safe and have a very merry Christmas.

God bless.

JAMES

(P.S. Sorry for bad sample images- I am writing this from my local library and I can't figure out how to take a picture on this computer, but enjoy the koala by all means. Right, I'm off. See you next month).