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Don't hurt your ears when you practice with headphones. Photo by Kai Pilger.

Do Your Headphones Hurt Your Ears When Practicing Piano? Learn How to Play Pain-Free

When you are practicing the piano, you might want to use headphones to keep your playing private. There are lots of reasons for wanting to avoid your practice being audible to others, and headphones are the best way to do this.

However, wearing headphones while playing piano can start to hurt your ears after a while, for a variety of different reasons. In this article, we’re looking at how and why this might hurt, and also how you can practice piano silently, in peace, without worrying about hurting your ears.

Reasons for Practicing With Headphones

Don't hurt your ears when practicing

What is the point in practicing with headphones? If you are worried about your ears hurting, is it not better to just listen through speakers? There are a few reasons for using piano headphones to practice:

  • You might be practicing in a shared space. It can be hard to hear what you are doing if there is a lot of noise in the area.
  • Some digital pianos and keyboards don’t come with inbuilt speakers so headphones could be the easiest option.
  • You may not want other people to hear what you are doing. If you’re in the early stages, you might be self-conscious of getting things wrong. Headphones mean you don’t have to worry about people hearing your errors.
  • You might just be looking to avoid disturbing people. The piano isn’t as loud (and potentially annoying) as electric guitar, for example, but you still don’t want to risk waking the kids up when you practice.

Whatever your reasons for using headphones, there are some tips out there for ensuring you can stay comfortable throughout and don’t hurt your ears.

Tips for Comfort While Practicing

On to our top tips for staying comfortable while you play piano and making sure you don’t end up with pains in your ears.

Listen at a Reasonable Volume

Did you know that pain and aching in your ears can be caused by the volume of what you are listening to? Some people assume that comfort is all related to the headphones themselves, but listening for long periods of time with headphones that are playing loud can make your ears ache.

Keep the volume relatively low. You don’t need to blast your piano at full volume to be able to hear what you’re playing. If you find you can’t hear, you can find noise-canceling headphones to block out external sounds.

Take Breaks

Headphones aren’t ideally designed to be listened to for huge periods of time. You will probably need some time to let your ears “breathe”. Taking breaks from practicing is usually a good idea anyway, and as well as giving your brain a rest, it can also give your ears a rest from the pressure of headphones.

Taking 5 minutes every 20-30 minutes of practice can avoid aching. It’s also a more effective way to practice. Long sessions can make it harder to retain information.

Get the Right Size

If you are using earbud-style headphones, you need to find the right size to sit within your ears comfortably. Otherwise, just a few minutes can lead to a lot of pressure being put on your ears. A lot of earbuds come with multiple tips so that you can choose the right size to go inside your ear.

If you are buying bigger ear cup style headphones then the concern will be more about the size of the headphones as a whole. The band that goes around your ear needs to be the right size, and the ear cups need to be plenty big enough for your ears.

Many of the headphones on the market are adjustable. You can change the length to make sure they sit comfortably on your head and don’t put pressure on your ears in uncomfortable places. Some even swivel and adjust to suit the shape of your head.

If you have an unusual shape or size of head then you might want to check that the headphones you are buying will be long and wide enough to fit. Reviews can help you to establish whether people have had issues with comfort.

Check for Padding When Buying Headphones

Your ear cups will be the section that comes into contact with your ears, and you should opt for padding and comfortable materials if you can. Many headphones come with a leatherette finish or foam padding.

If you’re worried about comfort then you should not just go ahead and buy the cheapest headphones out there. They will probably be hard, and the plastic or metal they are made of can put pressure on parts of your head and on your ears.

Headphone companies spend a lot of time and money researching comfort. They know people want to wear headphones for long periods of time if they can, so this is one way they try to outdo each other. Buying the most comfortable headphones can ensure you don’t have issues during piano practice.

Go for Lightweight Headphones

Some of the discomforts you experience can come from the fact headphones can be heavy. Luckily, a lot of options on the market are lightweight. If you struggle with big heavy cans on your ears, you could also switch to either on-ear headphones or in-ear earbuds. Most product listings will show you the weight of your headphones, so you can choose based on this.

Conclusion: Don’t Hurt Your Ears

The headphones included with your digital piano or keyboard may not be the best quality. Luckily, there is a big market out there and lots of different designs of headphones so you can choose the best for you.

If you aren’t looking to buy new headphones, taking regular breaks and ensuring you have the size adjusted correctly for your ears can be the best way to avoid your ears aching. Also, make sure you don’t listen to music too loudly, as this can cause ear fatigue.

When practicing for long periods of time with headphones, don't hurt your ears. Photo by Kai Pilger.
Photo by Kai Pilger

This guest post is from Erik at

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