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Synesthesia: ‘Seeing’ Music in Colours

Everybody loves music and your ESL students aren’t an exception. Language teachers have been using articles, songs, and other authentic materials about the music industry for decades.

They are interesting, meaningful, and fun!  Synesthesia is a fascinating topic that those who teach English abroad should introduce to their ESL class!

Synesthesia is a neurological condition that, in short, blurs the boundaries between the senses and allows people to see music in colours. Most professional musicians have Synesthesia and scientists tell us that everybody experiences this condition as infants.

Below you will find a podcast and a couple of articles that explain how Synesthesia occurs and how some musicians have been able to develop their condition further.

In this CBC podcast, university student Hannah Johnston talks about how she learned to play music and gives examples of how she ‘sees’ different music.

The History Channel reports that Synesthesia may have been crucial for our survival and this condition is not exclusive to artists. Scientists Nikola Tesla and Richard Feynman, and the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras have had Synesthesia. 

Inside Science reports on scientific research that shows that everybody experiences Synesthesia as infants.

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