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Turn It to the Left: Rapper Warns Against Hearing Loss

073007_leftipod.jpgThe ubiquitous iPod ear bud.

A thundering bass played through a sub-woofer mounted in the trunk of a tricked-out Civic.

The up-close-and-personal sound blast produced by 4,000 watts of amp power played through a stack of 12-inch speakers lining the stage.

Todays teens and 'tweens are going deaf listening to rap and other music at in-concert sound levels that exceed 100 dB, i.e., way too loud, man.

For most kids (including us way back when), loud music isnt a distraction, its a necessity a necessity for riding the bus, for doing homework or just passing the time downloading the latest releases from iTunes. Todays kids are hooked up and plugged in more than ever and the result is sound-induced hearing loss at a younger and younger age. No longer just a problem for old hippies and Gen Xers, this newest generation of music lovers is experiencing hearing loss in their teens and 20s. Not good.

Meet Ben Jackson - Rapper
Ben Jackson is a man on a mission - a mission to increase awareness of hearing loss caused by loud music. Listening too long, listening too loud, and going deaf in the process.

Thats what led Ben to write the rap single entitled Turn It to the Left, It being the volume control on MP3 players, car stereos and home-based audio gear.

Ben premiered the rap tune at the American Academy of Audiology Conference, AudiologyNOW 2007, held in Denver, early in April, 07. And the crowd ate it up with a spoon; clapping, rocking and giving Ben a standing O for his efforts. Thats right, the largest gathering of audiologists anywhere in the world gave rapper, Ben Jackson, a warm welcome for his most welcomed message.

Click to view Ben's performance at AudiologyNOW 2007. It is way cool.

Since then, hes performed on National Public Radio (4/26/07) and at other events intended to get the word out that hearing loss just aint cool. But Ben is more than a one-trick pony.

Jackson, along with partner, Robert Mitchell, are the founders and directors of Rhythm, Rhyme, Results a company that develops educational rap tunes targeted at middle school and high school students. The RRR web site states, While we devote much of our time to developing a library of content for classrooms, we also create individual songs tailored to the needs of conferences and other events.

In this case, Turn It to the Left was originally composed for a public awareness clinic held at the well-respected Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston. The catchy song, with an infectious beat, was such a hit that Dr. Sharon Kujawa, Director of the Department of Audiology at the Infirmary, requested use of the song on the lecture circuit and as part of her outreach programs within the community.

Everywhere Dr. Kujawa used Turn It to the Left with young audiences, it was a smash hit. It was at this point that Dr. Kujawa recommended that Jackson perform his educational rap at AudiologyNOW 2007. So Ben flew out to Denver, performed Turn It to the Left at the conference and was received with great enthusiasm.

Today, the song is being utilized by the American Academy of Audiology Foundation to heighten awareness among young people that loud music, over long periods of time, will lead to hearing loss hearing loss caused by irreversible (though entirely avoidable) damage to natures sound system the human ear.

Kids dont recognize the damage because its effects arent immediately evident. But over the years, as many old hippies will attest, long sessions with the headphones really do create a Purple Haze in the ability to hear clearly.

AAAF Fundraiser
Jacksons song has had such broad appeal and carries such an important message that it is now being used by the AAAF as part of its fund-raising efforts on behalf of research conducted on sound-induced hearing loss. For every $20 gift to the AAAF, donors receive a CD version of this rap to appeal to their students or children. And it really is a cool tune.

Its a great way to help others and pick up a tune your teens will listen to.

And maybe some of them will get the message - before its too late.

To make a donation to the American Academy of Audiology Foundation to fund research into sound-induced hearing loss, and to pick up one (or a dozen copies) of Ben Jacksons CD, Turn It to The Left, please visit:

American Academy of Audiology Foundation

And tell your kids to turn it to the left. Theyll thank you when theyre 40.

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