March 31, 2019

My Listening Centre Experience

I went to the Listening Centre in Toronto, Canada, in 1999, curious about the effect Tomatis’ listening training would have on my voice, and came away with my life changed. 

The vocal change was immediate. I got off the plane after the 60 hours were completed, sat at the piano and vocalized, and couldn’t believe my ears. There were two notes on the top and bottom of the scale that hadn’t been there before; and while my voice was much more equalized, the thing that really struck me was that I felt different in my own skin—a big deal to a guy that had been hiding his stuttered/stammering since 4th grade.

Yes. I stuttered and stammered. My own understanding of why it started? I was mixed-dominant (see my previous post), terrified of my father, in love with my homeroom teacher Mr. Casper, and knew—without a soul telling me—that being gay was a no-no. 

Hello! it was the 60’s, my parents were who they were (and weren’t), and I could not and did not share my Self with anyone until I was nearing 30—just about the time I started my career with New York City Opera. 

The funny thing is, I was at a party full of educators on lake Ontario and couldn’t say a sentence without falling all over myself when my stammering bubbled up and out—clearing away like gunk flushed from a clogged pipe. I was ecstatic and thought the whole thing rather ironic as the opera singer who couldn’t talk! 

I had other big experiences too. 

There was the day I stood in the middle of the room after having been seated working on an artwork (no analytical thinking please) and realized my spine was significantly elongated. It coincided with the “unlocking” of my tongue, which hurt at its base and was accompanied by an intense stretch from tip of tongue to collarbone.

Not only did my voice change after the training (mind you, I was already singing professionally for about a decade), my thinking did too. My interest in all things pedagogical kicked into high gear, and I started researching in earnest, wanting to understand what I had been given by Margaret Harshaw in a deeper, more comprehensive manner. So I started going to the library, not knowing much about research at all, but learning from excellent librarians and staff, each pointing the way forward in one way or another. Connecting the dots over a period of two decades, I’ve obtained a ground of knowledge—coupled with practical experience—that has exceeded my wildest dreams. 

Seek and ye shall find stuff that will blow you away.

I could not have done it without having the furniture in my brain moved. That’s what Tomatis’ listening training did: It turned on the lights, moved the furniture, and gave me the ability to become self-actualized.

Small potatoes, huh? 

I highly recommend it to students who want to up their game, unravel their knots, and find their voice.

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