Sunday, 29 March 2009
I have been involved in a couple of projects recently where the ability of children to listen has been an issue of growing concern within the school, not just with respect to music but right across the board. Both the schools are located in suburban areas where traffic noise is a constant. And there is anecdotal evidence that, for many pupils, little conversation takes place within the home but that they are filled with the noise of competing music, television and computer games. The verbal interaction is sparse and perfunctory.
I don't find this difficult to believe. My own children will happily spend hours at a stretch at the computer if allowed.
Recently I have been looking for a new house. When traffic noise is clearly audible the vendor always assures me that 'I really don't hear it anymore'. Are they telling me the truth? Well, sadly, yes they probably are. I've grumbled about my neighbour's fountain before. What I don't like about it is that I can no longer tell, just by listening, whether it's raining or not, whether it's windy outside or whether the birds have woken up. It blocks out these sounds and if I block out his fountain I block out all the other sounds with it. If you live in an environment where you have to block out traffic or the sounds of TVs, computers and stereos you're blocking out so much else as well. You must lose, through lack of use, the ability to distinguish sounds from noise. Is it then a surprise if you have problems listening?