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The Sound of Happiness

While staying with my 91-year-old cousin, I noticed she hummed when she was moving about rearranging her pretties around the house. This reminded me of my Granny, when she was happy she whistled. Giving the topic more thought, I realized all the women of that era on my mother’s side of the family made a noise when they were happy. Several aunts would hum, another had a very low sing-song like sounds she would make while another older cousin would whistle tunes I am certain I heard sung on the Andy Griffin Show by the Darling Family. Sadly, no one in my generation does this. Not sure why we didn’t pick up on the happy sounds. Maybe it is due to the constant noise that surrounds our lives. Have you ever stopped to just listen to all the sounds? Over head lights buzzing, monitors from computers and flat screens humming, clocks ticking, air blowing from cooling fans on electronics, outside traffic noises, cell phone sounds, hand-held gaming sounds, microwave beeps, ice maker cubes dropping… the list is endless. We are bombarded with sounds every second even in our sleep. We barely notice them. I wonder if our brains are effected by all of constant sounds it is subconsciously interpreting? Wonder if anyone has ever thought of researching the effects of constant low-level sounds? Could this be a reason in our inability to concentrate? I realized how much I missed the soft sounds of my Granny’s whistling. Listening to my cousin’s humming as she went about her day was such a comforting sound. Her house doesn’t have all the gadgets and gizmos mine does. The sounds about her home are happy sounds as she goes about her routine. I wonder, if I turned off all the electronics in my house would I hum, or whistle?


Do you hear what I hear?

Having worked in a deaf school for many years I came to appreciate the sound of silence as well as paying closer attention to sounds in my environment. First, let me make it clear, deaf schools are not silent. Very few deaf are stone deaf, there is some residual hearing though not functional in what we hearing would understand. You do become far more aware of sound vinrations while working in a deaf school because the deaf react to the slightest of vibrations in many cases that we hearing ignore because we focus on the sound.

Hard of hearing have a difficult time in a deaf school because it is so noisy. If the teacher is deaf then there is no one to calm the outside noise of scooting chairs or loud shuffling papers. Often a child would have attention problems which lead to behavior issues. I would go into the classroom to do environmental sound assessments. Again, if you are not aware of sound then you do not consciously adjust for it in regard to others. If you are hard of hearing you may not always realize it is the back ground noise is bothering you. I need to note here many deaf will turn their hearing aids off during class time because of the noise levels. Hearing aides do not filter noise like the brain does, it just ramps it up so it can be heard. Think about a busy subway with the crowd noises and the trains, amplify 25x, that is a certain headache if not a migraine moment in the making. This same effect can happen in the classroom. Can you imagine being a 7-year-old having to deal with such blasting in your head?

As hearing people we often do not consider the noise as a source of problem in the work environment. This is a false assumption. I was in the bank yesterday discussing with a consumer support  representative about my new business. A prime example time to make her aware of the need for environmental assessments to help improve productivity and employee/consumer comfort. There were fax machines, computer pings and dings, adding machines, papers shuffling, people talking, doors closing… the list was endless. Then I directed her attention to some of the employees. You could see the frustration due to the “bells and whistles” going off at sporadic times. The bank music was terrible! I mentioned a switch to a music with  more white noise tones would help solve the problem because it would drown out the other obnoxious sounds that irritate.  The look on her face was shock. She never thought about all the sounds and how they affect others. Now she was super sensitive to all noises and was picking up on the negative side effects.

Working with autistic and extreme ADHD people, this is a crippling issue. They cannot filter sounds so they get the full blunt of the chaos and bombardment of the noise plus a heighten awareness of the sound level. Another place were sound studies are conducted with great success in the outcome of those who are exposed is in the neonatal wards. Premature babies( preemies) are hooked up to all sorts of machines which whirl and beep, often chirp. A study found that this stressed the infants. Measures are taken  in many hospitals to either filter the noise with music or reduce the sound so it is not so startling to the babies. I cannot quote the source but I do remember reading a study that felt there was a link between the extreme noise in the neonatal units to learning problems and ADHD in later life for preemies.

The next time you find yourself getting tense and frustrated take a minute to do a personal sound study of what is happening in your environment. You might just need to step out to a quieter place to give your brain a rest. For every sound your brain is registering the source, the distance, if it is a potential threat, guessing how long it might continue…. all this for multiple sounds while you are trying to get your daily work completed. We are often not aware of how hard we are pushing ourselves because we are not aware of the multi-tasking going on within our minds.

Did you hear that?


Rock & roll and magic markers! Let’s do homework


If you can’t get them to do their homework, they will find a way to amuse themselves.

School bells are ringing once again!

Life is busy. Parents work all day. Kids come home with loads of homework. No one feels like studying or sitting down to fight the battle of trying to figure out homework either. Let’s focus on how to get your kids excited about homework or even just studying.

Let me add that not everything works for every child or parent or teacher.  This is all about discovery and what can get your child from boredom to learning. I doubt any teacher will challenge the alternatives if your child’s grades go up because so will test scores. The administration is all about raising the scores because who wants to be on the bad list of schools not making progress?

A good tempo, the pace of the music, actually can help a child study. How many times have you turned on the radio or CD player to listen to music while you work? Hard rock probably won’t work but some  good classic rock & roll will. Find some current tunes that flow the same way and let your kid study with the music on.

Is there a rule that homework must be done in blue or black ink? Some kids will get more excited if they can use multiple colors when doing their homework. Math? use erasable color pencils. The advantage here is that you can even color code words or topics. That develops a memory cue which can help a child’s recall during tests. You can take it a step further to add scented markers. Aroma therapy while doing homework!

When there is a lot of reading homework, don’t confine your child to the table. Do you read while sitting up straight in a chair at a table? Chances are no. Bean bag chairs or even outside in a hammock are great reading places. The more comfortable, the better retention and getting lost in the moment.

More suggestions coming your way tomorrow.

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Shark Like Focus… to the music

Have you ever noticed how music can change your mood? If you have one of those out-of-sorts sort of days, try changing the tune with music.

If you are lagging in energy, up the beat. A good peppy beat can get the brain back up rocking once again. Find your style and turn up the dial. You might try a flash back to tunes you loved “back in the day.” Happy beats from the past can trigger a happy focus.

Distracted because your mind is wandering all over the place? Try some classics. Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven, these guys can get your brain waves from frantic to calm. So the big oldies are not to your liking? Try a slower pace alternative rock. Search the airwaves or your music collection for easy-going tunes that have a calming effect and watch the smooth tones tune your brain into a slow groove.

If the words and melodies are causing you some distraction, try “white noise.” A room fan, the static on the radio, or some dull constant that drowns out all the other beeps, bumps, and thuds from the office that might keep you from focusing on an important task. Sound machines that create rain and ocean wave sounds are also a great choice if this is the sort of sound you need to help keep the brain in the groove.

Hope you can find your brain solution while surfing some of these possible solutions!

Did you know that edibles can help you focus? Check in tomorrow for some tasty treats that can help you perform at your peak.

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