Are You Actively Listening to Music?


Quarantune 2.0 has been another smashing success. I am grateful for the volunteers that organized it and the almost 50 instructors that taught us how to be better musicians. Total count of students that participated was 1847. Wow!

On that note, there were 4 concerts to attend from the instructors. I paid close attention to their mannerisms, stories, and the nuances in their playing.

How should we actively listen to music? Good question. Do you play only for background music or participate in attentive listening? It seems the more I learn and play the better active listener I am.

1. I want to hear the dissonance, resolution, the tension, the mood and so on.

2. If live, watch the performer, are they happy, sad, dreamy, expressive?

3. Are they just making the music or is their whole persona involved in the music?

Comprehensively listen to music and find the musicality you would like to try and incorporate that into your playing. Thinking back to my Music Theory class in college we had to listen to not only classical music, but the teacher loved West Side Story music and I did to. Our assignment was to find the A, B, C parts of the pieces. I still do that today. One of may favorite groups, Steel Wheels, uses this musical structure very effectively and their music takes me on a journey with it. Truly amazing.

Active listening is a good tool not only for music it also works well for conversations too. When we really hear the music or the conversation we can interact at a higher level in the conversation and in our playing. Adding different musical structures can then take our listeners to a higher level.

To find the song structure Listen for the Introduction, verse(s), chorus, the bridge between these and then the ending. Did it flow? Did it inspire you? Would you like to learn to play it? Would you play it a little differently?

Are there many instruments playing? How are they playing? Are they bouncing the music off of each other, echoing each other, embellishing parts? It is amazing sometimes to hear the way each instrument comes together and makes a whole tune. Is one instrument playing the beat or some playing ahead or behind the beat. Each time we listen to a tune try to listen to just one instrument through the whole piece then play again and listen to another instrument.

Tips for Active Listening Skills:

1. Comment to find a quiet time to really mentally engage in the music.

2. Practice to train your ear to hear the parts, nuances and so forth.

3. If live, watch the non-verbal communications of the performer.

4. Identify what you are hearing that you want to incorporate into your playing.

Did you participate in Playing on the Porch Day? I was participating in Quarantune, but hey I was playing!

Hope all of you are safe!

Keep the Music in the Air!

NancyJ VP

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