Do you hear what I hear?

An interesting question posted on social media recently included an audio recording of a computer-generated voice saying “Yanny”. Or was it saying “Laurel”? People would swear that they were hearing “Yanny” while others listening distinctly heard “Laurel”.

No matter which name YOU hear, there is no mistaking that our ears and our brains intake and process sounds and information differently. Have you ever completely misunderstood what someone else said? I am famous for it. When my nephew was about 7 years old, we took him out on the boat with us early in the morning so that our son could water ski before the lake got rough. After enough water skiing, our son invited his cousin to join him in some tubing on the lake behind the boat. It took a lot of convincing to get him out there on the tube because he thought the water would be freezing cold at 7:00 in the morning. As he tumbled off the tube and into the water, we brought the boat back around to pick him up and I distinctly heard him shout, “I love this sport!” I laughed and mentioned to my husband that I thought it was an odd comment to make. Both my husband and son looked at me with strange expressions and said, “He said, ‘this water’s warm!’” Whenever I misunderstand someone, I usually get teased and reminded that “this water’s warm”.

I think that oftentimes our perspective can color how we hear things and even our ability to focus our hearing so that it becomes effective listening. Most of us could use some more listening! Have you found yourself missing what people say? Do you tune out during a movie, a presentation or even a performance? Do you sometimes feel like you need a break from sound input? I can answer “yes” to all of these!

Recently I became certified as a Practitioner Level I for the Tomatis Method, which is sound therapy. I was reminded that sound is a form of energy and that we need that energy to stimulate our brains and our bodies. It has been a fascinating discovery of how differently we are all made and how one sound can be pleasant to a person and create misery for another.
I sometimes wonder if this is why I like Classic Rock but can’t tolerate Country or Jazz. Could it be that the sound energy in one type of music is stimulating and the others are draining (or at the very least, irritating) to my ears?

What sounds make you feel energized or joyful? What sounds bother you? Do you like wind chimes? Or do you dig a rockin’ bass? Mozart or Jagger? And finally, do you hear “Laurel” or do you hear “Yanny”?

Stephanie Parker lives in the Atlanta area with her husband Rob and operates her studio, Learn With Stephanie, in order to teach music, language, home arts and help students with learning challenges through Sound Therapy.

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