February 21, 2015

The Brain's Way of Healing by Norman Doidge, MD

This is a remarkable book which features the work of Paul Madaule, director of the Listening Centre in Toronto, Canada, which is based on the work of Alfred A. Tomatis, a pioneer in psychoacoustics. 

What can the student of singing gain from this book? Well, for one thing, a good deal of information regarding the plasticity of the brain. For another, an under-the-hood view of how we learn—and how the body and brain are connected. Reading it, you begin to understand why Tomatis said curious things like "Your back is your ear" and alternately, "Your ear is your back."

I experienced Tomatis' observation myself after beginning my own course of listening training in Toronto in 1999.  At the end of the first week, I observed that my neck had been elongated—stretched up and back, so much so that my muscles ached. I also felt a huge change in the base of my tongue—as though someone had reached into the back of my mouth and untied a knot, the consequence of which I felt an intense ache from the tip of my tongue all the way down to my collarbone. All this from listening to filtered music, which changed the relationship between the muscles of my ears and body.

My speaking voice changed of course, as did my singing, both of which became more fluid and full of timbre. I know this blog to be a result of my listening training experience too: singing, speaking and writing involving self-listening, the training connected the dots—or as I sometimes tell people—moved the furniture in my head, which found expression on this page. Such is the power of sound.  

This book is full of stories of real people experiencing real change. As a companion, I also suggest you read Paul Madaule's excellent book When Listening Comes Alive. Taken together, you will have a better understanding of Tomatis' revolutionary work and its application to the art of singing. 

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