Listening, not hearing, is the primary function of the ear. Tomatis draws a clear line between listening and hearing.
Hearing is a passive process; listening is active and it requires us to use our ears in an appropriate way. We can have excellent hearing, but be poor listeners. Many children with learning difficulties or lack of concentration have excellent hearing, but cannot read well or concentrate. Their problem is the inability to listen. As a result, they cannot concentrate and have difficulty reading. If you want to find out if you or your child has a hearing problem, see Paul Madaul’s excellent checklist at the end of this article.
Listening is the ability to perceive the necessary information, as well as the ability to filter out unnecessary information. When we feel good, we may not pay attention to various stimuli emanating from the external environment or directly from us; this allows us to concentrate our attention and concentrate without feeling confused or helpless before the influx of a huge amount of information. We can sort and organize this information, determining its significance, without experiencing feelings of congestion. On the other hand, when the listening process is disrupted, problems arise in learning, in communication, and in social skills.
“The listening training developed by Tomatis is designed to restore the ability of the ears to listen in a more effective, organized, and balanced manner. The goal is to improve the brain’s ability to perceive and process various information. When the listening function is expanded or restored, the brain exhibits a more effective ability to perceive and process signals from the environment. ” (Quoted: Paul Madaule, L.P. and Valerie Dejean, O.T., “The Listening Function”)
To the surprise of many, we all have a dominant ear, with some dominating the right, while others have the left ear. Those with a right ear dominate are able to capture and process auditory information faster than people with a dominant left ear. Therefore, “right-handed people” are better able to control the parameters of their own voice and speech: intensity, frequency, timbre, rhythm and flow of sentences. The Tomatis program allows customers to learn how to use their right ear more effectively, in order to gain better control over their voice. In various life situations, this helps to maintain self-control and self-confidence.
Several independent researchers, evaluating the effects of the Tomatis method on a stutter (Badenhorst, 1975), concluded that “individuals with a dominant right ear have shown excellent spontaneous and adequate emotional responses to various stimuli. As a rule, the “right-handed people” were more open and more responsive natures, with less tendency to worry, tension, frustration and aggression. These results are fully consistent with the predictions of the Tomatis theory. ” (Quoted: Van Jaarsveld and Duplessis, S. Afr. J. Psychology, 1988, 18 (4)).
The relationship of ear and voice
Speaking about the function of the ear, one cannot help but recall the voice: they are interconnected in an unusual way. Based on the accumulated experimental data, Tomatis in 1953 presented a report to the French Academy of Sciences, which establishes the following law: “The voice reproduces only those sounds that the ear can hear.”
As a result, hearing improvement leads to a change in voice. This phenomenon can be observed in singers with voice problems. In many cases, voice problems are caused by hearing problems, because the ear is not able to control the accuracy of the sound in order to reproduce it. This leads to the fact that many singers begin to “squeeze” sounds out of themselves instead of trying to overcome this difficulty. As soon as hearing problems are resolved, the voice regains its full potential. Not surprisingly, many famous singers, for example, Maria Callas, consulted in the center of Tomatis.
Children with hearing loss often have learning difficulties and have monotonous, flat, and sometimes harsh voices. A harsh voice, for example, indicates an inability to analyze high harmonies and the dominance of the left ear. Improving auditory abilities and developing the child’s right ear, one can notice how his voice begins to reproduce a rich range of harmonies, and becomes accurate, measured and quick in response.