Latest Posts • 19. April 2021
Sounds, tones and rhythms can soothe us, touch us, give us goose bumps or awaken our urge to move. Hearing has different and varied effects on our body and soul. The listening therapy according to Dr. Tomatis is even said to help with problems such as concentration and learning difficulties and is used to support therapies and rehabilitation. It is an auditory treatment method that detects and optimizes processes of the auditory sense and their effects on the body and psyche. I would like to present this method today, with which I have already had good personal experience.
Dr. Mozart and the listening training
The listening training of the French ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. Alfred Tomatis makes use of the way we hear and how our brain processes frequencies. Tomatis’ listening training is even said to help with difficulties regarding learning and communication.
Alfred “Dr. Mozart” Tomatis developed his auditory therapy based on his studies of hearing damage in pilots and the findings from those studies about the relationship between hearing, speech, and mental state.
Every human being has a dominance of a side. We are right- or left-handed and prefer the right or left eye when looking through a telescope. This dominance also applies to the ears. Depending on the nature of the side dominance in hearing, learning or communication problems can also arise. Speech and hearing centers are located in the left hemisphere of the brain. Since the neural pathways of the brain are cross-connected to the different sides of the body, right ear dominance can be beneficial for good speech comprehension. This is where Dr. Tomatis’ ‘listening therapy’ comes in. In the course of the therapy, one has to listen to different sounds over a certain period of time. The frequency responses of the sounds are altered so that auditory perception is stimulated in the areas where there are deficits.
Procedure of the listening training
At the beginning of the treatment there is always a listening test and a thorough medical history. The treatment is customized on the basis of the test results.
This is followed by a listening training. You don’t really have to do anything other than listen. Through headphones, the patient listens to sound frequencies that were poorly perceived or not perceived at all in the listening test. In this way, the listening ability is trained. Through further listening tests, progress can be detected and the training can be adjusted.
Listening therapy can be used for children as well as for adults. Areas of application include:
● Attention disorders
● Concentration disorders
● Motor problems
● Learning difficulties
● Communication problems
Tomatis for singers and musicians
By the way, Tomati’s insights and his listening training can also be helpful for singers and musicians in particular.
We speak of three Tomatis laws that take effect here. Tomatis carried out frequency analyses of the voice and the auditory system and discovered that poorly heard frequencies are also contained in the voice, only in a reduced form. The first Tomatis law is derived from this:
The voice only contains the frequencies that our ears hear.
To help singers with voice and hearing problems, Tomatis developed a hearing simulator designed to have a corrective effect on hearing and thus on the voice. Singers sang in front of a microphone and simultaneously listened to a corrected version of their voice through headphones. In fact, the experiment was successful. And Tomatis was able to derive the second Tomatis law from the results:
If the ear is given the opportunity to hear frequencies, that are no longer perceived or not perceived well, correctly again, they reappear instantly and unconsciously in the voice.
When the singer sang again without headphones, the vocal problems immediately reappeared. This prompted Tomatis to develop an auditory conditioning device – the ‘Electronic Ear’ – to make the Tomatis Effect permanent.
The work on the ‘Electronic Ear’ eventually led to the third Tomatis law:
Acoustic stimulation repeated over a period of time leads to the final change in hearing and consequently phonation.
Conventional medicine doubts the effectiveness of Tomatis listening training. I can only say that both my daughter Emma and I have completed several Tomatis listening training sessions. This was not only an exciting experience, but we could observe very positive effects.
For further reading:
Tomatis, Alfred & Kober, Hainer: Der Klang des Lebens. rororo, 1990.
Becker, Hans-Peter: Was Eltern über die Entwicklung ihres Kindes lernen sollten. MODU Publishing, 2018.