Several times a year I am privileged to hear bagpipes close up and personal at masonic lodge functions that I attend and participate in. I love the pipes and the traditional tunes. The pipes played indoors in small rooms create some interesting harmonics and present a challenge to my hearing aids, being loud and louders. Doing some research I found out that the British Army has looked into this. See below
Over the years there has been many discussions if playing in a pipe band can lead to hearing damage or loss. With many tests done and surveys conducted one can conclude that members of a band could indeed sustain hearing damage.
Without hearing protection, members face a serious risk of lasting hearing damage as decibel levels are over 90. Outdoors it has been recorded that pipes can reach decibel levels ranging between 108 to 111. 111 decibels is equivalent to how loud a pneumatic drill is.
Indoors, pipes can reach decibel levels up to 116, which is as loud as a chainsaw. Snare drums can hit up to 122 decibels. The noise level is louder than the sound produced by a jet engine at take off.
In 2006, the Ministry of Defence in Britain ordered Army bagpipers to limit playing indoors 15 minutes a day and 24 minutes a day when playing outdoors. If the piper wants to play longer they have to wear ear protection.
So we can stop telling the kids to moderate their IPod volume and limit our appreciation of the pipes to about 15 minutes indoors. I think next time I will turn my hearing aids off.