Monday, July 9, 2012

Hearing Exercises for Echolocation

Getting in tune with your senses, or becoming more aware of yourself and your surroundings will be important when learning echolocation as it relies heavily on the subtleties of sound.

Hearing with the Brain

As you likely know, our ears are simply a conduit for sounds, and they don’t do any processing in and of themselves. The sound waves affect the organs in the ear and mechanically transmit those waves to the brain. This is where noise filtering and all other sound processing occurs. So while you may have physical limitations to your hearing that are governed by your actual ear organs, there is still brain training you can do to improve how things are filtered and distinguished. Here are a few simple exercises you can do to improve your awareness of sounds.

Hearing Exercises

  1. Opposite Environment – If you generally live a in a noisy environment, make sure to allow yourself periods of silence. Consider getting a pair of noise cancelling head phones or just some ear plugs to enjoy listening to absolutely nothing for a little while. On the other hand, if you live in a generally quiet environment, spice it up a little by putting on some loud music for a little while. 
  2. Counting Sounds – Try to count the number of different sounds around you. For example, your refrigerator, a clock, birds chirping, neighbors talking. Can you hear yourself breathe? What about the wind outside? 
  3. Noise filtering – Start a conversation with someone in a regular speaking tone. Have someone else add in a distracting noise like relatively loud music and continue carrying on the conversation at the same level. After a while have them add in another distracting background noise and continue carrying on the same conversation. 
  4. Source Locating – Have a partner move around the room and make a short, distinct noise of some sort. As soon as you hear the noise, point to where you hear it coming from. Have your partner let you know if you got it, and if not, how close you came. Also try approximating how far away they are. This may require some distracting noise when they are moving around the room in order to disguise their footsteps. 
  5. Copying – Listen to talk radio, a news broadcast or podcast. Nothing in particular, but something that interests you. Listen intently for a moment and then begin to repeat all everything that is said, word for word. Keep up with the speaker, but vary the amount of time you leave between their words and your words. This is great exercise for the brain as well as the ears.
Do you have other hearing exercises you like to do?  Leave a comment and tell me about it!  Thanks!

Free 10-Minute Audio Lesson: Learn the Echolocation Click

Learn echolocation clicks with a free audio lesson
Learning how to click is one of the first steps to becoming an effective echoloator. This lesson provides clicking samples of a variety of different clicks and descriptions of when they might be most useful. This lesson has been used by O&M instructors all over the world.

Despite popular belief, it's easy to make your clicking quite subtle or unnoticeable even in quiet settings. There are many different clicks for different situations. I explain all of these in great detail and give examples of where, why and when they can and should be used.

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