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Friday, March 29, 2013

Sounds, Colors, Mixed Senses and the Background of this Blog

Every glasses-wearer knows that one hears better WITH than without the glasses. Funny, no? Glasses are worn for better vision, and ears transmit sound, right? Well, not exactly.   (I have worn glasses since about age 7, which is about the age that I started studying piano, then violin.) 

Actually, much of hearing is lip-reading. And when the source of the sound can't be seen by the listener, one needs to figure out another way of decoding. An example of  using multiple senses......

I have what is called synesthesia, from the ancient Greek σύν (syn), "together," and αἴσθησις (aisthēsis), "sensation," is a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. (Wikipedia)

Another combination that I have always had (or think so at least) is color synesthesia, or chromesthesia. For as long as I can remember, the tones of the C major scale have been primary colors to me (C is royal blue)  while the flats are represented by mixed colors (E-flat will forever be chartreuse for me.) Sharps are represented by strong combined colors, such as magenta, purple etc.

Is is hereditary? Hard to tell. My parents sang the Ode to Joy of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony  in the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus when my mom was pregnant with me;  I LOVE and play classical music. But I  had epileptic-like seizures when I was 11 years old, and these are known to play havoc with neural activity too.

Synesthesia is not listed as a medical condition by DSM classification because it doesn't interfere with daily functioning. In my case, it enhances it. In fact, the reason I chose this background for the the blog is that it really combines the name of the blog (Margie's Melodies) with changing colors.

Here is a piece of music  presented visually (this is what I mean). This is how I have always thought about music. (I think Beethoven was a synesthete too.)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Satisfaction: Musings of a Veteran Education Professional

Interestingly,  having stayed in the education field when all sorts of (more lucrative) professions presented themselves at different junctures has its own rewards. (After I was in a serious car accident in 1993, following the  long recovery period, I had planned to do a career turnaround--not exactly a change because I would have been still working with the English language--and become a technical writer for large companies. Well, I am still teaching with a heavy emphasis on guidance original field.)

I have taught at several schools in my area, some belonging to the Ministry of Education and some belonging to other (private) organizations. In any case, they are all in the same main geographical area, even though their foci are different: some of the junior high and high schools are for achievement oriented academic types who will do many matriculation exams and most will succeed on  them , some are for high-intelligence low achievers with tough home lives whose very presence in school is  an achievement, some are rural schools with large catchment population areas who need to accept every student in their municipal region, special needs or not. And at elementary school level, I teach English to English Speakers in a non-English speaking country--kids who speak English at home with their parents and/or have returned from several years in an English-speaking country, often for one of their parents' jobs.

And very so often, I meet a former student and /or one of my kids' friends--there is overlap there--and I must say that I am flattered when they remember my name and tell me something I said  that still resonates with them, even four or five years after I said it when they were teenagers. For instance, from the borderline matriculation class at the high-intelligence, low achievers' high school: some of these kids are baggers and cashiers at the local supermarket to earn some pin money,  meaning that I see them often.  They are continuing their education and doing things with their lives when they didn't think they would graduate high school. I must admit that I pushed them to stick with school and not give up when they were in tenth grade, and I love it when they tell me what they are doing now.