Monthly Archives: September 2012

Parents are Not Perfect People (But That’s Okay)

Let me veer away briefly from all things Tomatis because I’d like to write about a talk I attended last Saturday about “Building Strong Families that Foster Good Character,” delivered by the esteemed psychologist and morals education guru Thomas Lickona, Ph.D.  In a room filled with eager parents, he enumerated 11 principles on how we can educate and train our children (along with Mom and Dad) to live lives of virtue.  The subject-matter was thought-provoking enough, but one topic that caught my attention was when he mentioned the importance of creating a Character-Centered Home versus an Entertainment-Centered Home.

In a Character-Centered home, children are taught wisdom, justice, fortitude, self-control, love, having a positive attitude, hard work, integrity, gratitude, and humility; which we can achieve if we practice the principles of good parenting.

In an Entertainment-Centered home, children are…well, entertained (with endless “fun” activities, parties, trips, toys, video games, electronic devices and television) and not taught much else about surviving the realities of the outside world.  And when the time comes when there is nothing else to entertain them with, the children become: (1) bored and/or (2) unhappy; and end up mostly as selfish, indolent and irresponsible adults.  Yikes!

As a run-of-the-mill, devoted (and frequently flustered) wife and working mother-of-three, I am very concerned whether I indulge my children too much with electronic devices that serve as surrogate parents.  My husband and I have been guilty of using such practices in the past such as rewarding (or bribing?) our teen-age daughter with her own laptop; employing the Xbox to divert our pre-teen son while we have guests in the house; or appeasing our youngest boy with an iPad to prevent a breakdown in a restaurant.  It is, unavoidably and literally, a part of our everyday lives.  Add to this concern are the many studies one can just Google on the internet about the negative effects of using such things to excess–decreased attention span, poor social skills, and obesity!

However, in the end, Dr. Lickona did appease my feelings of inadequacy and said that parents are only human and can make mistakes.  He quoted a wise bishop, “Our children don’t need to see a perfect role model, but only someone who is trying.”  And that made me feel good.

As a run-of-the-mill, devoted (and frequently flustered) wife and working mother-of-three, all I want is for my children to grow up as moral adults.  Sometimes, I will do it Dr. Lickona’s way; and at other times, I will do it my way.  I pray that in the end, all of this will be worth it.

Are you a run-of-the-mill, devoted (and frequently flustered) spouse and working/stay-at-home parent-of-____?  Do share your thoughts and insights about the wonderful world of parenthood.

How Tomatis Helped a Boy Walk Again

I’d like to share an incredible story about “a young boy with a medical diagnosis of cerebellar ataxia who progressed from needing a wheelchair to walking with hand held assistance after Tomatis training was added to a program of occupational and physical therapy.”  This case study was prepared by Maude Le Roux, a Tomatis colleague (and occupational therapist) who owns and runs a pediatric private practice in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.  Maude has integrated Tomatis into her practice and she considers it their “most effective method to create effective neuro-physical changes with lasting functional results.”

Read all about Paul’s Incredible Journey and please share your thoughts.

Pourquoi Mozart?

In 1991, Alfred Tomatis wrote a book that answered the question “Why Mozart?.”  The good doctor explained (and extolled) in his treatise the reasons why Mozart’s music is superior in its healing effects and why it is used for the Tomatis Method.  (I don’t expect you to read the book, unless you are very fluent in archaic French.)  Through the help of Pierre Sollier–Tomatis devotee and author–and other Tomatis books, we get to learn the rationale for using Mozart’s music.

It should be noted, however, that the content of Pourquoi Mozart? (1991) is not to be confused with the more popular The Mozart Effect (1997), written by author and music researcher Don Campbell.  Campbell espoused the idea that by listening to Mozart, one can become smarter.  For Alfred Tomatis, Mozart’s music was more than a palliative influence on the brain.  Rather, it encompassed the entire person, body and soul.

In my humble capacity as a Tomatis practitioner, I have listed down the reasons why Alfred Tomatis used Mozart’s music:

1.  Mozart began composing as a child, therefore, his music is very reminiscent of an innocent and happy childhood.  It is vibrant, clear and transparent, and deftly expresses joy and sadness in a very heartfelt style.

“Perhaps it is Wolfgang Amadeus’ precocity that provides the answer. He began to compose excellent works at the age of four and a half. He was born into an extremely favourable environment, where music reigned as absolute monarch. Even before his birth, Mozart was saturated with music. I have no doubt that such a situation prepared his nervous system to listen and to live only in music….It is not inappropriate to say that musical expression was the true mother tongue which enabled Mozart to communicate with the entire universe.”  (The Conscious Ear, Tomatis, 1991)

2.  Mozart’s music is pure, balanced and was inspired by the Divine; therefore it is perfect in all its musical elements.  Compared to other composers, music was “imbedded” in Mozart’s soul.

“Why Mozart (and why not Beethoven, Ravel, Bartok, or Louis Armstrong)?

He is for Tomatis an initiate (from the Latin initium=beginning), someone who has access to a level not commonly reached by others, as a result of a revelation….Mozart was an Initiate because of his capacity to live at that level, especially when he was composing.  In fact, he was known to write entire pieces of music as if they were dictated to him by some divine inspiration.” (Listening for Wellness, Sollier, 2005)

3.  Mozart’s music has the ideal characteristics of rhythm and high frequencies that are most effective in the Tomatis Method.  These aspects of his music are crucial in the execution of the listening therapy.

“The diffusion of Mozart’s work through the Electronic Ear provides a desirable architecture for the neural foundations of listening (and more generally of perception), and so of the individual’s relationship with the surrounding world.” (The Conscious Ear, Tomatis, 1991)

“The music of Mozart, which is rich in higher harmonics and has little low frequency content, needs minimum energy to be clearly audible.”  (When Listening Comes Alive, Madaule, 1994)

4.  It is only the music of Mozart that comes up with the best results in the therapy.  It is a most effective tool in the administration of the program.

“Among the hundreds of pieces of music tested over 25 years, we selected and retained works by Mozart…owing to the good results they have enabled us to obtain.”  (The Conscious Ear, Tomatis, 1991)

“I also believe that Mozart himself was the first to benefit from the healing effects of his music. ‘Mozart composed music of radiant vivacity, sparkle, and wit at times when he was crushed by neglect, debt, and the awful discouragement of living his whole life insufficiently compensated and recognised’….”  (When Listening Comes Alive, Madaule, 1994)

“When I write my books, when I fling my theories onto paper, or meditate pen in hand, I always fill my study with Mozart….I need this acoustic recharge….To some, it may seem to be a whim, but I recommend surrounding oneself with music.  It energises you…” (The Conscious Ear, Tomatis, 1991)

5.  The music of Mozart has both a calming and energizing effect necessary for people who have sensory issues that cause them to be either over- or under-stimulated.  It helps attune the body into a state of composure and self-assurance.

“The consistent results obtained during the sound stimulation program with the use of Mozart provide another example of its universal quality.  His music is the only one we know that creates a perfect balance between the charging effect and a sense of calmness and well-being.  It relaxes the overly active and the anxious and energizes the tired and the depressed.”  (When Listening Comes Alive, Madaule, 1994)

“Both relaxing and energising, the music of Mozart can be used either to calm down the children when they are restless, ‘hyper’ or fidgety, or to give them a boost when they are tired or distractible.”  (When Listening Comes Alive, Madaule, 1994)

Before I say ta ta, I’d like to leave you with some Mozart music (and a short bio).  I hope it does make your day a little brighter and better.

Please do share how the music of Mozart has touched, inspired, or just made you feel good.