The Endangered Species of Musicianship: Listening

2011 Symposium2

As you might expect, listening is very important to me. As a musician, a purveyor of artistic sound, I am highly invested in listening myself, and in others listening to what I and other musicians release into the air in the form of sound. In an environment ever more reliant on visual technology such as smart phones and tablets, texting and chatting online have replaced good old face to face conversation, and many students are so used to aural multi-tasking, that they don’t even know what giving undivided attention to a single sound source means. In this environment, it is a bigger challenge than ever to focus students’ attention on instruction. In music, popular styles make modest demands on listeners, and much of the music people listen to is intentionally used as a background to other activities. The idea of stopping what one is doing, suspending the day’s work to just sit at home or in a concert hall and listen, really listen, to music for an hour or so, is largely a foreign one. What follows is an important commentary on this subject, with some practical suggestions on how we all may improve our listening.



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