Girl lying in grass with headphones


Listening is nothing less but the ‘royal route’ to the divine. Dr. Alfred Tomatis

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Who is Alfred A. Tomatis?
What is the Tomatis Effect?
What can the Tomatis Effect do for me?
What does the basic training course consist of?
What sort of music do I listen to?
Can I do the course at home?
I'm tone deaf, can it help me sing in tune?
I chant already, how is this going to do anything else?
How does the Electronic Listening Device work?
Isn't this just another Sound Therapy or Music Therapy?
I've got perfect hearing, what can this do for me?
But aren't hearing and listening really the same thing?
Why does it work?
Is there an age limit for this therapy to work?
What is the difference between Tomatis Listening Therapy and other listening based therapies then?


Q. Who is Alfred A. Tomatis?

Alfred A. Tomatis, a French ear, nose and throat physician, began developing his method in 1947, based on observation and research in audiology, phonology and psychology. The term "audio-psycho-phonology" describes basic principles inherent in the method. His technique aims at understanding and structuring the control circuits of voice, speech, language, social-emotional functioning and behaviour via listening.

The Tomatis Method is particularly concerned with the process of language integration based on the relationship between hearing and the production of sounds and speech. Sound production is directed by the auditory system which is linked to the reactions of the the brain as the centre of thought, feeling and behaviour. The interaction between audition and phonation, that is hearing and the production of sound is called the "Tomatis Effect", for which he was honoured by the French Academy of Science and Medicine in 1957.

Q. What is the Tomatis Effect?

The voice can only produce what the ear hears

If the ear hears properly the voice is properly produced. By giving the ears the chance to hear properly the voice instantly and unconsciously improves.

By stimulating the ear over a period of time with the correct auditory habits it is possible to transform the voice permanently.

Q. What can the Tomatis Effect do for me?

The Tomatis approach aims at heightening the client's engagement abilities. It provides an auditory "tune up" exercising the muscles of the middle ear. The Tomatis programme integrates music into a unique treatment format that link the five components of the Chinese verb "to listen" - ears, heart, self and undivided attention. Better listening means enhanced voice production, more fluid speech and better quality of life.

Q. What does the basic training course consist of?

After an initial listening assessment you will have a programme tailor-made for your listening. You will have a two week training period involving four consecutive half hour sessions per day of listening to music which is gradually filtered to meet your listening needs. Following this there is a three to five week break in which the effects of the treatment continue to develop. Then there is another period of intense listening for a further week. During this time an active session of humming and chanting can be integrated. After this week there is another break of three to six weeks, again followed by a single week of the listening therapy known as the “sonic birth”.

Throughout the treatment period you will have further monitoring listening assessments

Q. What sort of music do I listen to?

Mozart and Gregorian chant. Mozart because of its invigorating and liberating potential, which charges the brain with energy. Gregorian chant because of its correspondence to the beat of the human heart at rest and relaxing refreshing qualities. Both of these forms of music are particularly rich in high frequencies which charge the brain with cortical energy.

Q. Can I do the course at home?

No. As much as it appears to be more convenient and easier to do the therapy at home, the daily, on the spot, observation and guidance of the therapist is not to be underestimated or undervalued. At a centre you will be assessed and then use specialised equipment which you have the reassurance of knowing is maintained and functions as it should. Equipment does Furthermore many clients appreciate this special time just for themselves as the treatment is both invigorating and relaxing. Removing yourself from daily distractions and making time in a comfortable and different environment enables you to let yourself relax sufficiently to fully immerse yourself in the process. Tomatis said that ultimately it is the therapist that brings the healing, or as one of my clients said, “holds Jacob’s ladder”. Many people appreciate the exchange of thoughts and ideas in a encouraging atmosphere. Only in the context of a centre will there be professional feedback and audiometric testing to confirm that changes are taking place. It is an effort worth making.

Q. I'm tone deaf, can it help me sing in tune?

Not being able to pitch tones accurately is a symptom of faulty listening. This can be rectified by Listening Therapy but needs more than the basic course to achieve the desired result. My experience working with people who are not able to pitch tones has shown me that it is a focus problem and often the client's spatial awareness is literally flattened. Once the muscles of the middle ear learn to react efficiently to sound the vestibular function of the ear is also realigned, allowing the body(the receiver of sound) to experience itself accurately in 360 degrees and hence sound is appreciated in it's fullness and can be reproduced. There is a lot to catch up with, but it is possible.

Q. I chant already, how is this going to do anything else?

What you are experiencing in your chanting is within the scope of your present listening patterns. Often when people make improvements they are learning to access the full potential of their existing patterns. Listening Therapy will open the ears to even more, allowing you to access the sounds that your current listening patterns hides from you.

Q. How does the Electronic Listening Device work?

The machine has a series of filters which modulate the sound so that the muscles of the middle ear are switched over from a state of total relaxation to a stimulated one. This switching forces the lazy muscles to develop tone and react to the frequencies they have neglected and ignored. However, all this is very gentle and the machine is operated by the therapist to suit the level of your listening and the progress that you have made.

Q. Isn't this just another Sound Therapy or Music Therapy?

No. Listening Therapy is the prerequisite for any sound or music based therapy! Listening Therapy deals with our receptors, the ears, getting them to function as they should and to their maximum potential. Your receptivity and response to any sound based therapy will only be as effective as your ears are effective.

Q. I've got perfect hearing, what can this do for me?

There is a difference between listening and hearing. There are many ways in which the performance of the ear can be effected and its not just the obvious things like ear infections and damage due to loud noises. Over time our bodies can also shut down the ears various functions in response to stress, illness or emotional trauma, often rooted in early childhood. For whatever reason it is as if our subconscious says, "its too difficult for me, I don't want to hear it". This means you may have perfect hearing, but not necessarily good listening.

Q. But aren't hearing and listening really the same thing?

No, hearing is the unconscious taking in of all the surrounding sound. Listening is a conscious tuning in on a particular source. Unlike the passive reception of sound which is hearing, listening therapy focuses on listening, which is an active, focused interpretation of sound. Basically the listening therapy works on normalising attention and perception.

Q. Why does it work?
From a neuro-psychological viewpoint, Professor Tomatis believed that the stimulus supplied to the sensori-neural pathways from the ear to the brainstem and from thence to the remainder of the brain worked to correct immature or incorrectly wired sensori-neural connections, thereby helping with attention, speed of information processing and reaction time to this information.

Q. Is there an age limit for this therapy to work?

No there isn't! I have found that elderly people and pensioners of whatever age have benefited from undertaking this. They often find a release of creativity and appreciate painting, sculpture, drawing and indeed all forms of art more deeply. It brings many to a greater personal fulfilment through this, not to mention heightened energy levels!

Q. What is the difference between Tomatis Listening Therapy and other listening based therapies then?

Tomatis is the pioneer of all listening based therapies. There are quite a number of therapies that are more or less based on his work. The original Tomatis uses analogue sound and not digital. That is taped music and not CDs. The implications of this are profound, as digitalised sound is “broken” sound, made up of tiny fragments of sound with tiny gaps between. This “deadens” the sound, losing richness and overtones. The brain doesn’t work in a digital way! Contrary to what might be propagated about digital sound being superior, the important fact is that the brain does not process information, auditory or otherwise in a digital way. The use of digital sound in any therapy is fundamentally flawed. The question of digital versus analogue is literally a “no brainer”. It is true that tapes degrade, but tapes are regularly replenished, which means that the sound quality is not compromised.

Some therapies that offer a digitalised listening programme do not offer audiometric assessments. This means that rather than having your assessment by a Tomatis trained consultant who can test and interpret your listening pattern, you may be sent to an audiologist whose equipment is not calibrated for Tomatis work and who will not be trained to interpret the results as a qualified Tomatis consultant would. This will limit any potential feedback to aid in assessing progress and devising your personalised listening programme. Even more disturbing, sometimes no listening or audiometric test at all is offered with Do-It-Yourself imitations or pre-programmed devices that are provided for hire by therapists.

Leaving aside the un-monitored Do-It-Yourself “therapies” that do not bring about permanent change in the listening pattern as the client is not able to be properly assessed and guided through a course by a professional, there are other therapies that offer a reduced form of listening therapy. Several aspects are however, unique to the genuine Tomatis Listening Therapy.

Only Tomatis addresses the conduction of sound through the bone. We hear through our bones! Yet originally only Tomatis had a dedicated bone resonator as a normal part of the treatment. Some of the imitations have now included this function.

Furthermore, not all the other therapies filter music up to 9000 Hertz. Only the Tomatis Electronic Ear does this – and only frequencies at this level are perceptible during the final, most profound part of the course! For adults the music of Mozart is used to achieve how we perceived our Mother’s voice in the womb at 9000kHz and above and only the original Tomatis Listening Therapy records the Mother’s voice and uses it as an integral part of the therapy for children.

Finally, not all therapies offer chanting or music making, singing or reading, etc, through the Electronic Ear, allowing musicians, language students and indeed all clients to make adjustments naturally and effortlessly to their own vocal or musical output.

The methods used by the Listeneing Centre (London), known as Listening Therapy, are based on the published works of Alfred A.Tomatis and use only the original analogue form of sound.