[ Thumbnail ] Bringing Care and Joy Together in Harmony #3

Bringing Care and Joy Together in Harmony

#3 Making Enjoyment Last for A Lifetime

April 26, 2023

Small Sounds, Big Dreams

There are moments when you have to give something up in order to pursue something else. Some people, however, refuse to make compromises; they pour all their knowledge and creative energy into resolving both sides of the dilemma.

The two products we have explored in this series strive to find harmony between enjoyment and thoughtful consideration. Listening Care protects users from the risk of hearing loss, while also delivering satisfying sound. SILENT Brass™ mutes the sound of brass instruments while playing back a satisfying sound to the musicians themselves. The two tell us that while caring for one’s health or one’s surroundings is important, it should never come at the cost of the heart’s enjoyment of music. Here we find the “Key,” the common thread that ties these two stories together.

[ Thumbnail ] Takayasu Ebihara from the Strategy Planning Group, B&O Division
Takayasu Ebihara from the Strategy Planning Group, B&O Division

“It’s hard to keep playing music when there are sacrifices,” says Takayasu Ebihara, who is in charge of product planning and strategic planning of SILENT Brass. He doesn’t want people to give up playing for fear of disturbing their neighbors.

In his high school years, Ebihara himself made a number of sacrifices to play music. “During exam season, we weren’t allowed to practice inside the school. My band would go outside in the winter cold to practice by the river, the only place we could play without disturbing anyone. Since sound doesn’t travel as well outdoors, it was less enjoyable to play, and we got tired easily.” Like Ebihara, many wind instrument players find it difficult to find a place where they can concentrate without worrying about their surroundings. This is why SILENT Brass can prove to be so valuable. Users have written in to say SILENT Brass makes playing music so fun that they lose track of time, or that it finally allowed them to immerse themselves in their practice.

[ Thumbnail ] Ikuo Tanaka from the Marketing and Sales Group, Home Audio Division
Ikuo Tanaka from the Marketing and Sales Group, Home Audio Division

Ikuo Tanaka, who is in charge of the marketing of home audio products, thinks that this feeling of being immersed in something is one of the most fulfilling experiences a person can have. “Wearing headphones and delving into the world of music is a greatly satisfying way to spend your time,” he says.

The number of people in danger of hearing loss has become alarmingly high in the last few years, but it is virtually impossible to eliminate the risk completely. The only way to bring the risk down to zero would be to take sound out of your life altogether. Because people have and will always seek music, Yamaha strives to provide ways to listen as safely as possible. “We don’t have the power to completely prevent or cure hearing loss,” says Tanaka, “but we are committed to minimizing the risk as much as we can, while also offering music experiences that allow people to feel closer to the artists.”

Standing By Your Side Long Term

There is another common “Key” between Listening Care and SILENT Brass: the unwavering commitment to “be by the users’ side over the long term.”

Tanaka believes that the world would be a better place if caring for hearing health was more common. “I recently had the opportunity to speak with an ear doctor, who said that they are seeing an increasing number of patients, particularly in the younger age groups, who are experiencing otitis externa (a condition that causes inflammation of the ear canal) or are having trouble hearing.” The way we listen to music has changed drastically over the past couple of decades, and more people than ever are listening with earbuds and headphones. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend, with people wearing earbuds and headphones for longer periods of time due to remote work.

This is why Tanaka wants to normalize the use of earbuds and headphones that lighten the burden on the ears. “We have equipped Listening Care by default in almost all of the products we have launched since 2019. While we continue to make technological improvements, we want to show the world that we take our jobs seriously in maintaining long-term hearing health for all.”

Meanwhile, Ebihara believes that SILENT Brass is a product that can accompany musicians through various stages in life. “I think that many people would have quit playing their instruments if it weren’t for SILENT Brass,” he says. Maybe you just graduated school, and you don’t have anywhere else you can play. Maybe you just moved out of your parent’s house for work, and are afraid of disturbing your neighbors in your new apartment building. Maybe you just welcomed a partner or baby in your life. SILENT Brass can be there for you in all these situations when life moves on and you are left with fewer options to practice your instrument.

Because major transitions like graduation, career change, and marriage are a natural part of life, there is always someone newly in need of a quiet way to practice. This is likely why SILENT Brass has stayed consistently popular over the years. “While instrument sales fluctuate with trends, the number of SILENT Brass sold every year has stayed stable over the years. When the pandemic hit, more people purchased SILENT Brass because they needed a way to practice at home.” Ebihara thinks SILENT Brass offered a safety net for people who found themselves suddenly unable to go to their normal practice environments.

Finding Harmony in Self-Care and Care for Others

Tanaka and Ebihara continue to pursue ways to enrich the musical experience of users. Ebihara, who continues to play the French horn in a community band, hopes that SILENT Brass can become a tool that brings people together. “Today, most people use SILENT Brass to practice alone, but I think it has a lot of social potential as well. Our next challenge is to expand the ways SILENT Brass can be enjoyed, like making it possible to record music and post videos.”

Meanwhile, Tanaka sees the next step as making listening patterns more visible to users. “I think that if users can monitor their volume and listening time through an app, they’ll be more conscious of their hearing health.” He and his team have started developing interactive technology so that people can be more aware of their health risks without sacrificing their enjoyment of music.

“There’s a lot of technological competition in the earphones and headphones industry,” Tanaka says. “As important as it is to increase our presence in the market, we want to stay true to the users who sympathize with what Yamaha is trying to do and provide them with the experiences they deserve.”

Yamaha did not invent the original earbuds or mutes, but with its technology and sensibilities, it continues to provide new solutions that enhance the possibilities of existing tools. Sometimes, that means fulfilling two conflicting desires at the same time. Rather than limiting itself to either-or thinking, Yamaha strives to find harmony in seemingly opposing needs. On the other side of those creative challenges is a world where people can fully enjoy music, both now and in the long term.

(Interview date: December 2022)

Previous Page #2 An Enjoyable Playing Experience Anytime, Anywhere

Three-Part Series: Bringing Care and Joy Together in Harmony

#1 Listening to Music with Attention to Hearing Health

#2 An Enjoyable Playing Experience Anytime, Anywhere

#3 Making Enjoyment Last for A Lifetime

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