Obviously, such conditions as cancer require the diagnosis and treatment of a physician. However, in my opinion, physicians have taken upon themselves the diagnosis of some conditions about which they are inadequately informed. That lack of information is particularly noticeable in the range of mental and physical conditions involving ear dysfunction that may be corrected by stimulating the ear with high-frequency music. The discoveries of Dr. Alfred A. Tomatis and Dr. Guy Bérard have been overlooked by many doctors and psychiatrists. However, the businesses founded on the Tomatis Method are flourishing on their specialized knowledge. Some people unable to access Tomatis Method or Bérard AIT treatment have asked me how to set up a home listening station such as our son Daniel used. While the artwork may not be absolutely essential to the healing of the ear, I think it is extremely important for integrating the ear’s healing with the other senses: sight, touch, and smell and the interior awareness of movement (kinesthetic sense). Daniel used circular designs from Pat Kelley’s http://www.papermandalas.com/ that are offered free from her website. Please observe Pat Kelley’s copyright notices; you need special permission to publish her designs used as collaborative art. Pat has graciously allowed me to reproduce her designs that Daniel completed with his colouring. Those collaborative works of art provided important documentation of the extent of healing in Daniel’s right ear. I document and describe Daniel’s artwork in my monograph Hemispheric Integration and the Ears, available at: http://www.northernlightbooks.ca
1. We use equipment for playing CDs that allows one to plug in headphones: a stereo or CD player or computer.
2. We use ordinary headphones from our local big box store and electronics store. I prefer the kind that covers the ears to reduce ambient sound. We are interested in transmitting high-frequency sound, so avoid any headphones that advertise their excellence for low-frequency transmission.
3. We use a few CDs of classical violin music. The music with the high-frequency sound that best stimulates the middle ear is Mozart’s violin concerti, Bach’s music for the violin, and Vivaldi’s. The vivacity of their compositions gives the stapedius muscle the best level of workout. I use a chamber music rendition of R.E.M. music my son gave me that is excellent for its dissonant high-frequency sound; it works wonderfully. I have several CDs of the Canadian violinist James Ehnes of which his “French Showpieces” CD has some spectacularly high, high-frequency passages.Once you become aware of the effect of music on your energy and mood you will find your own favourites.
It is important to rotate every few days through the collection of CDs at the listening station because entrainment reduces the effectiveness of your listening. “Entrainment” is the effect of repetition that causes the stapedius to work less energetically. Think of entrainment as brain and muscle boredom. Variety offsets that effect. However, Daniel recovered from schizophrenia using no more than three CDs of classical music.
4. Of course, the volume should be kept to a LOW, comfortable level. Too loud sound damages the stapedius muscle further, exposing the inner ear to greater damage. Caution is particularly important when wearing headphones because the music is focused onto the eardrum. We STOP at the slightest sense of fatigue, edginess, or feeling of “sensory overload” that indicate the ear has been over-stimulated.
Bérard, who recovered from some level of hearing loss under Tomatis’s care before he also became an ear specialist, is emphatic about a listening program lasting no longer than 2 weeks. For very severe conditions such as autism and schizophrenia, some research has found that amount of stimulation is not nearly enough. But for other less severe conditions, two weeks of listening followed by two weeks of only ambient sound is a good way to begin.
5. Tomatis strongly cautions against low-frequency music. The low frequencies affect the vestibule and can cause serious problems. Drums and other low-frequency sounds should be avoided by people with middle- and inner-ear damage.
The vestibule, which is most strongly affected by the lower frequencies, also “hears” motion. For example, the movements of sign language (in the single digits of Hertz) for the deaf is registered in the same part of the brain as higher frequencies of motion in air that we call “sound” and and hear with the cochlea: Broca’s area of the brain that produces speech and that is activated in reading. Thus, the vestibule and cochlea overlap and co-ordinate their perceptions. Battering the ear with low-frequency sound disturbs those processes.
The ear and the eye also are co-ordinated in normal people, partly through the ear’s stapedius muscle. When the stapedius muscle is damaged, vision problems develop as well. This information seems not to be widely known by the researchers I have run into lately. For example, some are recommending special glasses for kids with dyslexia who have been found not to focus their eyes properly. However, the child’s fundamental problem is not the eyes, but the stapedius muscle in the ear. The child’s alternating dominance makes it impossible for the eyes to focus during the right-brain interval of shifting dominance. (The same phenomenon produces hallucinations in severely non-dominant people with stapedius damage in the severe range.) Low-frequency music that strongly affects the vestibule will affect the eye to some extent and may also interfere with the established neurology in Broca’s area of hearing/reading/speaking established by the normal range of frequencies that people hear.
6. A working surface may be more convenient than working on your lap. Dime store colored markers and pencils and paper patterns for coloring can be used to help the integration of the hemispheres. The work of the eye is co-ordinated with the inner ear mechanisms under the activity of the stapedius muscle. Producing unstructured art within a circle also is helpful. You can trace circles from a dinner plate turned onto a piece of typing paper. The designs of by Pat Kelley mentioned above are ideal for their clarity, simplicity, variety, and range of themes.
7. If you experience dramatic results, be careful. Your body has been in an unusual condition for an extended period of time and needs to be brought back to optimal health very patiently and gently. Especially, do not exercise too much and too suddenly. Stop activity BEFORE you feel fatigued. Muscle fatigue in the body shows up as backlash in the stapedius muscle. I have several times see someone recovering and the surge of energy leads the person to over-exercise; the stapedius muscle, which controls all the tensors in the body, receives the chemical results of that vigorous activity and is overwhelmed and the fatigue and other symptoms of stapedius damage return. So take it easy as you start to feel better.
8. Remember, too, that it is muscle you exercise with music. To stay fit, that muscle needs normal amounts of sound: singing and speaking and listening to music. Such activities as part of a daily or weekly routine are especially important for people who have suffered ear damage. Take good care of your ears!
I hope that covers your questions and provides the information you need. Get in touch with me anytime you have questions. And let me know your own recipe for listening and how it works for you!
Your can read more about the paradigm of ear-related behaviour syndromes in the publications available at: http://www.northernlightbooks.ca