Friday, February 6, 2015

Exploring Sounds- Auditory Skills



This week at home, for pre-school, I thought an exciting theme for discovery would be Exploring Sounds. There are a variety of auditory skills that are important to develop and can be learned and practiced through numerous enjoyable games. I use these games during music therapy evaluations to get an idea of any auditory sensory issues that might be going on with my students. 

Audition is the physical act of hearing or receiving sound).  It is passive and involuntary.  The ear is the transmission system and sends the information to the brain in a few areas including the auditory cortex and the pre-frontal lobe. The brain is "suppose to discard un-needed auditory information after evaluating its safety and informational features (Berger, 87).  The way we receive and process sound of course affects the way we receive and express language. 

The games we played this week include 

  • auditory discrimination 
  • sound localization
  • depth perception

Auditory discrimination is needed to tell the difference between sounds.  We can determine with this skill that language sounds are different than other sound effects like animals and machinery. We can also tell the difference between letter sounds like an "F" sound and an "S" sound. Sound localization is determining where a sound is coming from and depth perception tells us how far away or close it is. The absence of this skill can be a safety problem in situations like crossing a street. 

Auditory Discrimination

Game Number 1
I placed 4 different sounding instruments on the floor on one side of a wall where I was sitting. On the other side of the wall I placed the exact same instruments where my daughter sat. I sang a tune which I got from my supervisor with instructions to listen and then play what is heard.  The instruments included a drum, a maraca, a tambourine, and rhythm sticks. 


After she was successful at determining which instruments I was playing by listening I gave her a few more instruments to choose from.  These instruments required listening a little closer due to some of the new instruments sounding more similar to others such as the claves vs. the rhythm sticks and the tambourine vs. the bells.  With practice she was able to learn these too. 




Game Number 2
We also played a very simple auditory discrimination game by having her listen to sound effects I found on Spotify and having her guess what they were.  Some examples included birds, a fire truck, the ocean, etc. 



Sound Localization and Depth Perception
In this game I used my Bluetooth speakers and the music on my phone to play Music Hide and Seek. I hid the speakers while my daughter hid her eyes. When it was hidden I hit "play" on my phone and music played from the speakers.  She followed the sound to where she thought she heard it coming from, determining the direction (sound localization) and how far away it was (depth-perception). She took turns having me find it too. Even though she found it every time, she still asked me how I knew where it was. :) 




There are many other skills we did not do that include

  • Auditory figure-ground- what we hear in the foreground while putting non-important sounds in the background. 
  • Auditory focus- What one choose to listen to in a soundscape
  • blending of sounds-putting sounds together to form words and sentences.
  • Auditory tracking- The brain following and keeping track of a sequence of sounds.


Berger, D.S. (2002).  Music Therapy, Sensory Integration, and the Autistic Child.  Routledge.

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