The Ways Sound Affects Us

By November 22, 2009 Inspiration

This is a fairly short talk, but very interesting nonetheless.  Julian Treasure observes how sound affects us physiologically, psychologically, cognitively, and behaviorally.  This week, observe how environmental sounds influence these different areas.  How might one respond if he or she has no control over these sounds?  Walking away is not an option, and making a change in the environment is equally impossible.  Some specific populations come to mind when I think about inadvertent, yet deleterious, environmental sounds.  Neonatal Intensive Care is the first to come to my mind, likely due to my current internship rotation.  I am learning from Kim Hawkins, an MT-BC and NICU-MT, about the sharp contrast between noise and sound.  Essentially, noise is unintentional and unpleasant (e.g. ventilators, alarms, conversations), and sound consists of organized, intentional sound waves.  How much does noise hinder development?  And conversely, how can music support it?*

I also wonder about individuals with severe physical limitations, and perhaps cognitive impairments as well.  How much do we consider their environmental noise levels?  Is it within the Music Therapist’s job description to address these issues? Just something to think about.

*There is a lot of research supporting music therapy with neonates.  Check out articles by the following researchers:  Jennifer Whipple, Andrea Cevasco, Jayne Standley, Deanna Hanson Abromeit, Roy E. Grant.