Rethinking Music Making

For most if not all classical musicians, the phrase "making music" means to perform music and to do so in an expressive way, with a high level of musicianship. We spent 4 or more years in music conservatories or university music departments developing our performance prowess on our instruments so that we could make music. … Continue reading Rethinking Music Making


The Nature of Students’ Listening Habits

Much has been written about the shortening of attention spans. Everything from films, news reports, and political speeches to advertisements, music videos and popular fiction are designed to fit within short spans of time. All of these must grab a listener's or reader's attention within the first few seconds, or that listener will move on … Continue reading The Nature of Students’ Listening Habits

The Endangered Species of Musicianship: Listening

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 … Continue reading The Endangered Species of Musicianship: Listening

“But I Am Listening”

The direction to listen to music can mean different things to different people. To a music educator, listening to music usually involves giving attention to recorded music being played or to music being performed live, and also involves listening with a stated purpose. For example, a class might be asked to listen for  a singer's … Continue reading “But I Am Listening”

What Would Music Be Like Without Change?

Although most would probably say they don’t like change, the fact is that we need change and are designed to change and benefit from change. This can be clearly seen if we consider minimalist music. When a minimalist piece begins, it has our attention, because what we hear is a change from not hearing it … Continue reading What Would Music Be Like Without Change?

How Much Should Student Interest Drive Music Instruction?

Today I will continue a discussion I started yesterday about balancing influencers of instruction. In particular, I will examine the balance between student interest and curriculum. Curriculum is heavily influenced by state and federal performance standards. Although these standards are not mandatory, most states have adopted federal music standards, and most school districts have used … Continue reading How Much Should Student Interest Drive Music Instruction?

The Importance of Early Music Listening Experiences

With all of the evidence suggesting that listening to classical music early in life has cognitive benefits, an article on early listening experiences could be all about how music promotes brain development. That is not, however the topic of this piece. Instead, I want to write about the importance of early music listening experiences in … Continue reading The Importance of Early Music Listening Experiences

Music, Emotions, and Student Listeners

Every now and then I'm reminded that there are some hints I take for granted that are perplexing to some students. The learning activity for fifth grade classes was to listen to the first ten minutes of Maher's fifth symphony and make a list of each emotion they heard expressed moment to moment. The activity … Continue reading Music, Emotions, and Student Listeners

Approaches to Music Listening

In a recent discussion on social media, a music teacher asked for suggestions of materials to use in the teaching of listening. While the replies were helpful and born of experience, the kinds of replies were even more interesting. Basically, the answers fell into one of three categories: materials to use with students who listen … Continue reading Approaches to Music Listening