All Listening is Not the
Same: Exposing Tomatis Based
other Knock-offs by Valerie Dejean
along with the gate, is the most important feature ofthe Tomatis
Machine. The microphone completes the loop in the auditory-vocal
re-education process; it is the glue for permanent change of the
Tomatis Effect. In a typical microphone session, the client hears his
own voice through the machine, which is modified through the gate,
channels, delays, filters and balance, so as to accentuate the high
frequencies. With this high frequency feedback the client is eventually
able to incorporate these frequencies into his voice.
During the past
10 years many
listening therapies have proliferated, and almost universally they
that they are based on the theories of the French physician Alfred A.
the Spectrum Center
in Bethesda,MD and now New York City, we have been employing the
Method for the past seventeen years. As time goes by, we are
increasingly called upon to explain the differences between the various
methods. Which is most suitable for different
clients? They say that other methods take less time, cost less, can
be done at home, use new technologies and sound more stereophonic.
yet all these
themselves as Tomatis based.
not just a matter of abrand name (Kleenex) being used to identify any
generic tissue. After a careful appraisal we
to the inescapable conclusion that the other methods are not the same
the original, nor are they an improvement on the original Tomatis.
I (Valerie Dejean)
will attempt to explain why I have come to this conclusion. In order to
understand and survey some of the strengths and weaknesses of the
various methods and technologies available it is first necessary to
become acquainted with what Tomatis's theories were and how they are
executed through the technologies of listening therapies.
Tomatis, made his
that "the voice can only produce the harmonics that the ear is able
to perceive". This identification of the role that the ear played in
vocal production became the first law of what later came to be called
the "Tomatis Effect".
also discovered that if
frequencies could be restored to the ear, through a device he called
the Electronic Ear.
sufficient training of the ear and voice through
Electronic Ear the changes would become permanent. These discoveries
important implications for populations as diverse as singers
and children having difficulty in acquiring language.
came to believe that the
was much more than an organ of hearing. It is, he maintained in charge
of functions including; energizing and regulating the brains state
of alertness and attention; coordinating posture and movement;
and connecting our intentions and thoughts with our physical and
verbal transactions upon our environment. Tomatis's life mission
eventually became the understanding of how the ear was physiologically
involved in acquiring and controlling of the voice and language. To
end he invented several technologies, which could be used to
rehabilitate the ear related functions of alertness, attention,
coordination and voice.
Down the Bass
a good listener
totune into the high frequency soundsthat carry the
consonantsand consequently the meaning oflanguage
Tomatis's research was to distinguish what differentiated a good
listener from a poor one. He discovered that a good listener is able to
tune into the high frequency sounds that carry the consonants and
consequently the meaning of language, while at the same time
inhibiting the low frequency sounds which interfere with this
developed a gating
which was intended to train the ear to make fine discriminations of
sound in this desired high frequency range. This electronic gate was
first feature of the EE and arguably along with the microphone
is one of the most important features in delivering the Tomatis Effect.
It is emulated to some degree in all listening
programs. The gate on the EE is activated by the intensity and
high frequency content of the music and voice. The LiFT by Paul Madaule
has the most similar gate.
On the Berard machine and
derivatives the volume activates
and the music is played often (too) loudly for
that reason. Some methods have chosen to flatten the gate so that it
doesn't intrude on the high fid
elity quality of the music. However this
defeats the delivery of the Tomatis Effect. In other words, if you
hear the gate, a shift from lis
ning to a Base channel to a Treble
channel, then you are not getting the Tomatis Effect. The gate is
supposed to be irritating so as to get the listening mechanism to pay
As we shall see later the
precise timing and wave form of
is influenced by the interplay of the channels and delay. All these
features must work together to generate the Tomatis Effect. For
example, because of the delay function the gating in bone preceeds the
gating in air. This integration of the different features is only
available on the Tomatis EE. Nobody else has understood the importance
feature that works
with the gate and is unique to the EE is called the channels.
According to Tomatis, the two middle ear muscles perform the physical
act of focusing the ear. Changing the channels setting on the EE
practitioner to adjust the tension between the two muscles in
the listener's ear, in accordance with the profile determined by a
listening test. This helps the listener to physically direct his
attention and actually increase the perception of the incoming sounds
that are most meaningful while at the same time dampening the other
competing sounds. The channels are adjusted to create the maximum
level of tension in the middle ear all the way to the most relaxed
level depending on the needs of the listener. Initially maximum tension
is essential for activation of the listening (paying attention)
function. Later once the ear is listening better we are able to adjust
the channel to shape the ear to listen to the frequencies of the
language that the person speaks. This is especially important during
the audio-vocal work.
and Bone Conduction:
travels to the inner
ear through two mechanisms, air conduction and bone conduction.
travels via air through the outer ear to the middle ear where it is
eventually changed to bone conduction and sent to the inner ear.
bone conduction sound travels through the skull, by passing the middle
ear, directly to the inner ear. Air conduction is delivered monaurally
to the right and left ear through standard over the ear headphones.
Sometimes the volume is weighted to the right to encourage right ear
dominance. This is why it is essential that both the right and left ear
receive the same monaural input.
conduction is delivered
tiny vibrator that is place on the top of the head.
Bone conduction always travels faster
than air conduction. Tomatis developed the feature on the EE
called the Delays that allows the practitioner to manipulate the time
delay between air and bone conduction, so that when wearing the
earphones, bone conduction is heard first, but then allows an even
longer period to become acclimated to this sound (Bone) before having
analyze it (Air).
function you allow the listener a longer period to prepare himself for
the incoming sound before having to grasp its meaning. This
Feature is very important for people with sensitivities and for people
with any kind of processing disorder. The difference between people who
have listening difficulties and those who don't, frequently is a
question of how quickly they can process information. By giving the ear
extra time, a warning that important information is coming, you are
able to train the ear to listen more quickly.
conduction with delay
when wearing the
bone conduction is heard first, this allows us a longer period to
acclimated to this sound (Bone) before having to analyze its meaning
features,(Channels, Delay, Bone
and Air Conduction) are integrated with the Gate and work in conjuction
with each other. Some of the Listening Therapies
include bone conduction on their more advanced models
but have yet to integrate them with the other features. No other
programs at this time include the delays featured on the EE.
Center, Tuxedo Park, NY
the theory behind
the equipment and the practice.
The Tomatis Method is based on
a developmental model of how we all learned to listen- a process
that started in the womb. According to Tomatis, the fetus hears the
mother's voice and then begins the slow but steady process of learning
the mother's native language. The fetus' ear is particularly attenuated
to the high frequencies, which transmit well through the fetal
cartilage. In the 1950's Tomatis first claimed that the fetus was
listening to the sounds of its mother's voice. At the time the experts
riduculed Tomatis for this. Tomatis proved to be right. It is now
common knowledge tha the fetus learns to recognized the phonemes, the
building blocks of speech, from the 5th to the 9th month of
pregnancy. The baby is born "hardwired" or ready to regonize the
speech sounds and eventually attach meaning to what he or she hears,
until by 18 months the child begins to talk.
important feature on
the EE is the ability to
progressively filter out sound frequencies below 9000 hertz.
model of of learning to listen is duplicated by the Tomatis Machine
when the therapist makes
a recording of the mother's voice and then plays it through the
Machine's system of gates, high pass filters and the like. Often, in
case of an autistic or learning disabled child, it is very useful
during the Tomatis therapy to
duplicate the in utero process by playing a recording of the mother's
voice. It is also useful in the case of an adopted child whomay be
experiencing difficulting learning a language that they were not
exposed to in the womb. We
call this a form of adoption attachment disorder, and it is
treated by p
laying filtered music and voice through the Tomatis Machine
as to simulate what might have happened in utero. The child then tunes
into the frequencies and phonemes of his new language.
able to re-create this early listening by progressively filtering out
the lower frequencies on both musical and speech recordings. This gives
the ear an extensive period of high frequency listening that trains it
to accommodate to and focus on those important sounds that lay
the foundation for langua
ge and communication. Only the LiFT an
TLP attempt to emulate progressive filtration and they do it to a
lesser and in the case of the TLP a much lesser
ent. The Berard filters are specific to certain frequencies and
address specific sound sensitivities and are not intended to recreate a
developmental model of how we acquire listening.
discovered that the right ear has faster neuron pathways to the
left (language) hemisphere, which ideally, should have a controlling
role in language and motor expression. Experiment and observation will
readily show that when the right ear is not dominant, expression (and
even thinking!) becomes muddled and unfocused. The EE through a
mechanism called the Balance helps us to progressively strengthen the
right ear in its role of audio-vocal dominance. The Berard machines are
similar to the EE in this respect and LiFT attempts this though
not to the same extent. The other pre-recorded programs give some
emphasis to the Right ear but not progressively.
The microphone along with the gate is the most important feature of the
microphone completes the loop in the auditory-vocal
re-education process; it is the glue for permanent change of the
Effect. In a typical microphone session, the client hears his own voice
through the EE, which is modified through the gate, channels,
delays, filters and balance, so as to accentuate the high frequencies.
With this high frequency feedback the client is able to incorporate
these frequencies into his voice, which in turn enables the EE
to gate better.This becomes the loop of better perception enabling
better vocal production, which in turn enables even better perception.
is the core
working theory "that the voice can only produce the harmonics that the
ear is able to hear" It i
nvolves all the components of the Electronic
Ear working in a fine tuned combination. This level of active microphone session is only
emphasized in one of the other
listening therapy methods, the LiFT.
the other methods
which claim to be Tomatis based, the microphone is something of a joke.
True the client hears his own voice but it is not, gated, not filtered,
and not delayed. This is not surprising as it takes a high level
of electonic sophistication to produce this effect in real time.
However without this feature it is impossible to produce the Tomatis
Effect on a sustained basis. Without your voice becoming involved
in the feedback loop of ear, bone, and voice, the Tomatis effect won't
stick. It won't last! You need audio-vocal work through the integrated
system described above to get permanent change.
each one is
reguated by a separate dial, which allows the Tomatis
practitioner to create a wide range of separate settings for individual
clients depending upon their ailment specific needs. In skilled hands,
the EE can become an instrument, like a piano, versus a machine
like a radio. In this analogy, the machine, like the radio, does all
work, and does the same work for everybody who listens to a particular
station. And, of course, everyone can use it and benefit from it, but
does not require any particular skill. On the other hand, the player
on an instrument such as the piano can create unique results, but
it takes years of practice. Someone trained and experienced on the EE
become a virtuoso and achieve unique results in the manner of
a customized therapy.
The aim of programming is to provide re-education of the earby
re-enacting the development of listening from the fetal stage (high
frequencies) through birth and then through the development of
Through programming we are able to modify the many functions of the
The EE is the instrument. The programmer is the virtuoso.
Tomatis contributed much to our understanding of the normal and
development of the hearing and listening function in the human being.
Knowing how to design programs and how to adjust them is the critical
human "know how" of the Tomatis Method. This requires lengthy training
of the Tomatis Practitioner (3-6 weeks). This intensity is not
equaled in any of the other currently available methods. On the
side of this Web page you can find a list of active Tomatis Consultants
who have gone through this level of training. To insure that you are
getting the true benefits the Tomatis Method can offer, you should look
for these qualificatins.
pretend to be able to train a practitioner in three days is to
trivialize the work of Dr. Tomatis and to push the good name of the
Tomatis Method down the slippery slope leading to listening therapy
becoming just another new age toy. It actually works the original way! In my
17 years of clilnical experience, I have actually improved my
results by being a serious student of the Tomatis Method and learning
how to use all the features available on the EE. Progamming is
where the rubber meets the road in the Tomatis Method. But you
need access to the features in order to do this and such access is not
available on the other Tomatis-based. equipment.
This survey is an attempt to understand what it means to have a machine
or delivery system (CD, I-pod or internet streaming) that is based on
Tomatis's theories and if in fact they are achieving the Tomatis
In examining all that goes into achieving the Tomatis Effect it is
obvious that they are not. I have hoped to stress the importance of
full gating, channels, delays,
full filtering, microphone work and mother's voice recording as
essential to achieving and keeping this Effect.
other methods rely so heavily on Tomatis in their advertising it is
to confuse them and be mislead into thinking that you are doing
the Tomatis Method, when in fact you are not. In examining all that
goes into achieving the Tomatis Effect it would seem that these Tomatis
Based Methods are not achieving it.
for a more
technical article on this subject.