Studying with Dr. Alfred Tomatis:
Putting the EAR in Gear!
About a month ago, the TODAY SHOW did a special report on music therapy and its use with children with autism. The report focused on the work being done by a specific center in Maryland I believe and I have received quite a few phone calls as a result asking if I do this kind of therapy since I also studied with Dr. Tomatis. The short answer to that question is "no." However, I thought my readers might be interested to hear a little bit of the fascinating experience I had when I took a two-week intensive seminar with him in April of 1991. The location was Phoenix, Arizona and the topic was "The Healing Power of Gregorian Chant." Some very highly esteemed musicians and therapists had gathered there including Don Campbell who later wrote "The Mozart Effect." Dr. Tomatis was lecturing us during the day on how Gregorian chant, Mozart violin concertos and a person's own mother's voice affects their ear development and their resulting psychological development.
Many of us were also participating in an optional, parallel program that demonstrated what Dr. Tomatis was lecturing on. It involved listening through headphones for two hours each morning before the lectures and two hours each evening after the lectures to Gregorian chant (filtered, then unfiltered), Mozart violin concertos (filtered, then unfiltered), and finally a woman ( not my mother!) reading a story such as "The Little Prince." As we listened to all of these various types of music and sounds, we were simultanously supposed to be doing some toally right-brained activity such as watercolor painting (which I did) or sewing; i.e. something creative and not a left-brain activity like reading or balancing a checkbook. According to Tomatis, as we listened to the filtered music becoming progressivly unfiltered and more toward its "normal" sound, we would experience a "sonic re-birth." At the conclusion of the two weeks I had an opportunity to show my very simplistic watercolor drawings to him and he claimed that he could see exactly the moment when I had my "re-birth." I must admit I was a little skeptical, but it was fun and periodically I go back and look and my watercolor drawings and wonder if I really did have a sonic rebirth.
I also learned a technique called "skeletal humming" which I often teach in my toning and chanting workshops. This has probably been the most valuable thing I learned from Dr. Tomatis so I have to admit that I've been rather surprised to see his name associated so much with autism because I never heard him mention autism at all! See below for information about "The Tomatis Method." (this info and more can be found at http://www.tomatis.net/bethesda.html
The theory underlying the Tomatis Method of sound stimulation is based on a developmental model. This presupposes that many of the behavioral and communicative idiosyncrasies observed in Autism and PDD, are not the causes of the disorder, but rather are symptoms based on underlying biologically based regulatory disorders. The focus of the treatment is on the sensory systems involved in sensory regulation, in the effort to provide an improved foundation for normal development to take place upon. There are many studies on how lack of, or abnormal stimulation, results in delayed and atypical development. The same process occurs in children with Autism and PDD. Their central nervous systems does not allow them to properly perceive, process and organize sensory information from their bodies and their environment, that are necessary to respond adaptively and develop normally.
The inner ear, which is really the vestibular-cochlear system, is one of the earliest sensory systems to develop and mylinize in utero. The ear completes its development well before all the other sensory organs. The inner ear reaches adult size and become fully operational, sending information to the developing temporal lobe, by the fifth month in utero. The ears primacy in the developmental process allows it to develops and maintains connections with the rest of the emerging nervous system. This is why stimulation to this system, via sound, provides an important portal into the central nervous system.
Dr. Tomatis has talked about the importance of the fetus' early listening in the later development of audio-vocal control and language. In experiments he made to duplicate listening from within the womb, he found that the low frequency sounds of respiration, heart beat, and visceral noises were filtered out through the liquid environment. He found that mainly the filtered, high frequency sounds of the mother's voice were what was left. These high frequency filtered sounds comprised a large part of what the fetus was listening to. These sounds are transmitted rapidly via bone conduction from the mother's spinal column to the fetus.
Observations have shown that babies are born imprinted to their mother's voice, just as Konrad Lorenz found in his study of ducks which he imprinted to his voice. Phonemes are the smallest units of sound from which we form words. There are 50 phonemes from which all language is formed. By the seventh month in utero, the fetus responds to each of the phonemes in a word (spoken by the mother) with a specific muscular movement. There is also no time delay between the sensory input of the mothers voice and the motor response of the baby. This is consistent with Tomatis' theory that the fetus is listening to the mothers voice, via rapid bone conduction, and that this listening plays an important role in the development of audio-vocal control and language.
It is important to give specific mention to the vestibular portion of the inner ear mechanism. This can be called the "ear of the body." The vestibular system detects motion, gravity and provides us with our sense of balance. The vestibular system influences the underlying state of our muscle tone through its direct influence on anti-gravity musculature and contributed to our erect posture. The vestibular system has influence over other sensory systems and can help regulate sensitivity to touch, sound, vision, and movement. The vestibular system provides the opportunity for the two sides of the body to communicate on the brain stem level. This helps with the development of bilateral extremity movement and the development of laterality and specialization of skills. The vestibular system also has direct connection with the eyes so that the individual knows if s/he or the room is moving. The eyes relay on the vestibular system to accurately interpret information from the visual field. This relationship provided the basis for form and space perception and visual processing. The vestibular portion of the vestibular cochlear system also provides the foundation for auditory processing as it provides dimension and locality in auditory perception.
Due to the primacy of the vestibular-cochlear system in the developmental process, the use of sound stimulation provides an opportunity to influence many areas of function including gross motor, fine motor, visual processing, auditory process, attention, and speech and language.
DELIVERY OF THE METHOD:
The Tomatis training is delivered through headphones which have a special bone conductor on the top. Music is played on a tape recorder which is connected to a machine called the electronic ear. The music is gradually filtered over a period of several day until only the frequencies above 8000Hz. remain. The music used is largely Mozart. Because of the inherent high frequencies in Mozart's in particular, it makes the gating mechanism in the electronic ear function optimally. Once the ear is attuned to listening to high frequencies, we introduce a tape of the mother voice, that is specially recorded through the electronic ear. The importance of the mothers voice has already been explained. We also play the mother's voice tape with all frequencies below 8000HZ filtered out. It then sounds like cricket's chirping, yet all the rhythm, timing and intonation of the mothers speech pattern are still present. In addition we play Gregorian Chants because they do not have a tempo, or a pre-imposed beat and therefore are more consistent with the rhythms of a relaxed respiration and heart beat.
The progression of the program is the same for all clients, as the developmental process in acquiring language is universal. Only the amount of time in each phase of the program varies, depending on the diagnosis and level of progress that is observed. The process is one of slowly filtering the music over a period of several days. This is follow by a period of listening to filtered music and Gregorian chants.
After the period of listening to filtered music we gradually defilter the music and re-introduce the ear to listening in an air conduction environment. This is when we start the microphone work with the child. In doing this we are following the developmental sequence of birth where the child first learns audio-vocal control in an air conduction, non liquid environment. By hearing their voice through the electronic ear, which modifies the voice to reproduce accurate listening, they learn to develop a more accurate perception and ultimately improved control, of their own voice.
September 2003: - Hamilton, Ohio. The Workshop for Daycare providers on "Music in the Daycare setting" went very well. Part II of the content will be presented in the fall. Email Dr. Cash for more information.
Dr. Cash's Hawaii trip has had to be cancelled and will be rescheduled for next year. "My deepest regrets to the beautiful people of Maui. I will see them next year."
Several private workshops scheduled in Louisville: call 502-895-7688 to see if there is room for you.
Topics in June include:
Music and Pain Management
Music with Anxiety and Depression
Toning and Chanting
Read about the newest Calendar updates!
Dr. Cash is available for speaking keynotes, workshops, and individual "music medicine consultations" with people, as well as seminars, classes and other group and individual instruction in using music for healing and promoting health and wellbeing. Go to http://www.healingmusicenterprises.com/services.html for more information.
Attention: Louisvillle Area Health Professionals
Dr. Cash offers classes on a regular basis on:
- How to create music tapes for surgery
- Using music with pregnancy, childbirth and newborns
- Understanding how music affects the Mind-Body-Spirit & applying this to practice
- Toning, Chanting, and Drumming for Health
- Using Music with Alzheimer's Patients
2 -3 hour long classes are offered on demand for four people or more. Class can be booked for Fri am, Sat pm,
& Sun eves. Also private sessions.
Call 502-895-7688 to register or Send an Email
Dr. Cash offers helpful products to guide you reap the benefits of music for healing.
Each product is expertly created to offer you sound tools for self directed therapeutic music sessions. All purchases are secure and guaranteed.
1. "Notes for Tuning Your Life with Music"
(available as soft cover book or ebook, with CD or Mp3 music supplement)
- BOOK & CD-
(Book - $14.95; CD - $14.95 or Book/CD Combo - $24.95 & S/H)
- EBOOK & Mp3s (Ebook - $8.95; Mp3s - $5/set)
Mp3 Sets include:
- Alzheimer's & Dementia Collection
- Lullaby Collection
- Chant Collection
2. AUDIOTAPES - $10 & S/H -
Tape titles include:
- The Healing Power of Music
- Toning & Chanting with Addictions
- Why Mozart? The Research on Mozart and Learning
- The Use of Music with Alzheimers and other Dementias
- Music for Surgery ($19.95 for two tape set)
3. Healing Music Shoppe Do you have some birthday presents, wedding gifts, or shower gifts to buy? Why not go to my new Healing Music Enterprises Store and buy a book, CD, or even a musical instrument for that special someone? You can get a troubadour harp or a didgeridoo; a djembe, a bongo, or a bagpipe! Now that's a surprise isn't it? Feel free to write me personally for advice on the best instrument for you or your child. We also offer sheet music, music books, musician career services, musical recordings and more.
4. Music Book and CD Library - the place to browse and shop online for Amazon music books, CDs, VHS and DVDs. Hand picked to ensure that content reflects music for healing and well being.
Please feel free to forward this issue to
friends and associates. Anyone can subscribe for free (see below)
Alice H. Cash, Ph.D., LCSW
Healing Music Enterprises
(502) 895-7688 (502) 419-1698 (mobile)
(502) 896-7277 (fax)