Excerpts from interview with Katie Fitzgerald for Sound Therapy video 2002.
Katie Fitzgerald was also featured in the Sydney Morning Herald column “Why I…” on Oct 14th 2004
My health generally is outstanding, I’m a very healthy person, I don’t get sick, I don’t get colds, I’m really fit and healthy, I eat well and I don’t drink very much. I go to yoga three times a week. I play tennis, really badly. Somebody told me Sound Therapy helps tennis, I’m waiting for that to happen.
The reason that I came to Sound Therapy was because, probably for as long as I can remember, I’ve had a really strange ear. The best way I can describe it to you it’s like if you have a cold and your head gets blocked. Or if you’re in a plane or a lift, that sensation of your ear being blocked. So that was very specifically the reason that I came to Sound Therapy. I think I’ve always had it, but in the last 3 to 4 years I became really aware of it because I took up singing, and I think the reason that I hadn’t ever sung before was subconsciously to do with my ear.
First I went to a regular ear, nose and throat specialist and he diagnosed me as having a patulous Eustachian tube. He said, sometimes happens that it’s either too open or too closed and that kind of sounded right. He gave me these drops that are made out of sugar and he said to put them down my nose, before I wanted to sing, because that’s when I’m most conscious of it. He said it will irritate the back of your Eustachian tube and will make it closed, and that then I’d be fine. But it was very short term and very immediate, it wasn’t an ongoing fix.
In fact it made me feel sick, so it didn’t work at all for me.
Then I went to an acupuncturist and I think that helped a little bit. I had lots of acupuncture and little black pills, but again it wasn’t ongoing. Next I went to another ear nose and throat specialist and he gave me a cortisone spray and that didn’t help at all. Then he put me in hospital and put a grommet in my ear and that didn’t help at all. In fact that made it worse and I knew within a week or so that it wasn’t going to help, because I still had the same blocked sensation, but I also had this other weird sensation of having a hole in my eardrum, which is what I had. So it was actually worse. So then he put me back in hospital 3 or 4 months later and took it out again. And when I went back to him, he actually said to me that he didn’t know what else to do, which I knew was what he was going to say.
Finding Sound Therapy
My regular GP mentioned Sound Therapy to me about 3 years ago, but I think I just wasn’t ready to hear it at the time. At that point I was seeing her because I wanted a referral to the ear nose and throat specialist, and I just dismissed it, but you know funnily enough 3 years later Sound Therapy was actually the very thing that’s worked for me.
I saw the Sound Therapy book in a bookshop. I don’t know that I was consciously looking for anything at the time, I may have been, because I’ve been singing and, and my ear always seems very blocked up when I sing, because it was an emotional issue around it as well. So I saw the book and I read it and I just knew straight away that it would help me. So I rang Sound Therapy and decided to try it.
It was a bit strange at first, walking around with these things in your ear and you try to listen to the sound but you try not to listen to it, so you just try and be normal about it which is a bit funny, but you get used to it.
After I got used to physically having it in and just sort of incorporating it into my day, I went through a period, maybe a few weeks into listening when I found myself getting really irritated. I don’t know directly what that was from but I rang Sound Therapy International and spoke to Cath about it and she just encouraged me to keep going a little bit more. Then all of a sudden, within a period of a week, I remember it distinctly, my ear just cleared by itself and then it would get blocked up again and then it just seemed to keep clearing by itself. And each day, over a period of about 3 or 4 days it just got significantly clearer and not blocked. And it stayed like that. So I rang her and told her that it was a miracle!
The cause of the problem
I had had the problem, I think, all my life. One of the ear doctors said to me that it was probably anatomical. I became really conscious of it a few years ago because I wanted to sing. But I also think there was an incident in my childhood where a singing teacher told me not to sing. She told me just to open my mouth but nothing would come out. And then I think that the message I internalized to myself was that I wasn’t to be heard. So I think my ear tried to not let me hear myself, if that makes any sense. So there was definitely an emotional component that was compounding, probably a potentially weak ear. So I think that it had actually been there all my life but I just became really aware of it in the last 2 to 3, years as I was having singing lessons. And I’d get really emotional around singing and I, I’d tell my singing teacher about my ear. So I had this need to spend half my singing lesson talking about my ear. I worked my way through it emotionally as well, but I just know that listening to Sound Therapy did something, probably on a physical level, but maybe on emotional level as well.
Singing is something that’s really important to me, not because I want to be a world famous singer, but I find that it’s a really basic expression of who we are. I love singing with people. There’s a lot of lovely connection and communication and creativity for me that’s connected to singing and it’s something that I spent most of my life not being able to do, because of my ear. I feel totally comfortable with my ear now. And I sing! I sing in a choir and it gives me a lot of joy and a lot of pleasure in my life. And I couldn’t do that before because I struggled so much with my ear. Sound Therapy was really the thing that finally worked for me. So I would really recommend it to people. It’s not going to hurt you.
Intuitively I think what the ENT Dr said was probably right. I think that I probably have some sort of physical weakness in my ear. And the way he described what the Eustachian tube does, that there was too much air in there some how or other, I think that was correct, but I also think from reading the Sound Therapy book, our ear is very intricate and delicate and there could be tiny little things that were affecting it. So I don’t know whether the music enlivened those little bits of my ear or bought them back to life. Maybe something like that was happening that just made a slight physical difference to a part of my ear but actually made quite a profound difference to how I hear.
On medical practice
All I can say is how it was for me. I think the medical profession can be quite conservative and unless they can really articulate very clearly why something’s happening I think they tend to dismiss it. I think there’s a lot of things going on with our body and our mind that we’re not necessarily totally aware of. And I think we’re really connected to sound and vibration, I think that’s a real part of us. I can totally accept and I can feel that Sound Therapy can work on a physical level as well as some other, maybe more intangible level.
I admire Dr. Tomatis for exploring all those areas probably at a time where he was seen as not very traditional. I admire him for making those explorations and looking it at from an emotional point of view as well as from a physical point of view. And looking at how those two parts of us come together and how they work together, which is something I’ve always really believed. I think our bodies know everything. I think all of the wisdom is in our body.
The experience of listening
Listening to the Sound Therapy program was actually quite enjoyable and it was nice to go in and out of being consciously aware of listening to it.
Quite often I wasn’t really conscious of listening to it, I was just doing my regular work. Every now and then it seemed that I’d become conscious of a part of the music that that had become one of my favourite parts and it was just really enjoyable listening to it. Quite often I would say that I experienced really pleasant uplifting feelings. It was just a really pleasant comforting feeling that I got from listening to the music.
The music fairly much just sounds like regular classical music so it’s very enjoyable. Every now and then you become aware that something else is going on and I find that quite intriguing. But the music is really pleasant. Sometimes the screechy bits used to make me laugh, I just found those quite amusing.
The Sound Therapy book
The Sound Therapy book was very interesting and very easy to read. It had a kind of quirky manner which I found really appealing. There were lots of stories you could relate to very easily. I liked hearing about other people’s experiences. I liked hearing about, Patricia’s own experiences with her hearing dysfunctions and her own journey, and the trouble that she went to at one point in her life to actually go to the monastery and listen to the tapes. And just lots of little discoveries that she’d made about how she was becoming a bit more technical and how the sound of brown paper bags didn’t drive her mad as much as they used to. It was written in a very easy to read, friendly fashion. And it wasn’t too technical. There were little bits that were technical about how our ear works, if you wanted to read that. Reading the book was what convinced me to do the Sound Therapy, so it worked really well for me. I’ve read it lots of times, I’ve referred back to it and I often still do when I don’t know something particular that I’m trying to work out.