The Importance of Your Audio-Visual Bond

It is important to understand the critical nature of establishing audio-visual bonds with participants. When I entered my first circle, I instinctively understood that it was important to interact with participants at their level. I recognized the need for eye contact. I took to squatting. My knees could not take the continual load of my body weight and I soon created a facilitator’s (scooty) chair which encourages movement and offers instant height adjustments, thus improving an audio-visual bond.

The modified secretarial chair is a big hit with participants and an essential component to successful programs. It is an audio-visual assistant. We are on the same level. No one is excluded.

It is important, however, to be aware that eye contact is discouraged in some cultures, carrying social issues that warrant understanding. Many societies often exist within a single race, religion, language group, or nationality—with unique conventions for contact with others.

Understanding audio-visual zones of contact comfort is crucial. There are also a number of medical conditions, such as Autism, that offer real discomfort when eye contact is attempted. A cultural and medical check prior to the program will help avoid social gaffes.

Read My Lips

I have developed a type of radar that allows me to see when participants have recognized some part of a song and are struggling to connect to the words. It is a time for individual interaction and cuing. Giving the right mix of audio-visual clues allows those with compromised hearing to participate more fully. 6-5

Linguistic Visual Cues Activate the Auditory Cortex 6-5
Researchers have found that linguistic visual cues, such as the shape of lips, activates the auditory cortex, while facial movements that are not identifiable as speech do not. The activation of the auditory cortex during lip reading suggests that visual signs impact on the perception of heard speech even before the sounds themselves are processed into phonemes.A User’s Guide to the Brain, John J. Ratey, p95

When I see someone struggling to sing an old favourite, I place myself at eye level and sing with exaggerated expressions. The result is often a mimicking of my mouth movements followed by an “Aha!” connection that triggers the memory of the words of the song.

Elders are often prone to embarrassment about hearing loss, leading to a tendency to close themselves off from that which challenges them. Providing others with audio-visual signals allow them to hear with more than their ears. Enhanced participation is the outcome.

Assailed By Audio

When you work with individuals who are sensitive to audio, visual, and kinaesthetic stimuli, be in tune to their comfort levels. Individuals with severe neurologic challenges are often extremely sensitive to sound. 6-6

Assailed By Audio 6-6
On top of the various discomforts that accompany locked-in syndrome, I suffer from a serious hearing disorder. My right ear is completely blocked, and my left ear amplifies and distorts all sounds farther than ten feet away. When a plane tows an ad for the local theme park over the beach, I could swear that a coffee mill has been grafted onto my eardrum. But that noise is only fleeting. Much more disturbing is the continuous racket that assails me from the corridor whenever they forget to shut my door despite all my efforts to alert people to my hearing problems. Heels clatter on the linoleum, carts crash into one another, hospital workers call to one another with the voices of stockbrokers trying to liquidate their holdings, radios nobody listens to are turned on, and on top of everything else, a floor waxer sends out an auditory foretaste of hell. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly , Jean-Dominique Bauby, p96

The beating of the drums or the high pitch of some percussion instruments can cause real pain, and should be avoided when healing with music. 6-7

Autistic Understandings 6-7
....Autistic children often shun many kinds of physical contact. Part of the reason is that sensory information coming at them from the outside world is too fast for their brain to process, and they are simply overwhelmed by the stimuli around them....Some autistic persons have normal sensory abilities but have difficulties sorting out the information from the noise. They cannot prioritize the multitude of sensory signals pouring into the brain. To cope, autistic children respond by exhibiting behavior whose ultimate goal is to shut off the massive and confusing sensory overload. They accomplish this by screaming, covering their ears, or running to a quiet place – anything to block the noise. An aversion to touch adds to their social isolation from the outside world.... [Defining autism]A User’s Guide to the Brain, John J. Ratey, p178-79

As my neurological symptoms progress, I have noticed an increase in my own sensitivities. Luckily, as the facilitator, I have control of the sounds so I rarely offer any instruments that create sharp sounds when we are healing with music.

Many seniors in skilled nursing facilities cannot handle the resonance pulsating around them and refuse to attend programs, ans sometimes even balk at healing with music.

Now is the time to bring out individually packaged earplugs that can offer relief and allow participation. Before offering earplugs to participants, it is critical that a charge nurse or health care professional be part of the process, evaluating possibilities and implementing their use.

Ergonomics and Body Language

Be alert to subtle distinctions in participant postures. 6-8

Attending to the Bumper Cars of Life 6-8
Eddie’s job was “maintaining” the rides, which really meant keeping them safe… He looked for broken boards, loose bolts, worn-out steel. Sometimes he would stop, his eyes glazing over, and people walking past thought something was wrong. But he was listening, that’s all. After all these years he could hear trouble, he said, in the spits and stutters and thrumming of the equipment. The Five People You Meet in Heaven , Mitch Albom, p2

Look out for participants who are leaning forward (offer longer beaters or closer drum placement), legs dangling (need a footstool?), arm or leg in seemingly awkward position (need equipment adjustment?) Is a participant not engaged? Is there a need that is evident—toilet signals, distress signals, or disturbances? If so, signal the attendant. It may be a small spill of coffee, an obviously distressed manner, or an unknown anxiety that is being manifested.

Equipment - Overview & Aesthetics

Orchestration Techniques For Use When Healing With Music



Enforcement vs. Invitation

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