Active Listening

You learn far more when you listen than you do when you talk.

Effective listening is a core requirement for better practice. This method will help you develop your listening skills.

Firstly choose three contrasting pieces of music. In order to get the most benefit from this method try to choose music that you would not normally listen to, that is outside of your usual style or comfort zone. As well as developing your listening skills this will also broaden your general musical knowledge.

Having chosen your three pieces you need to listen to them several times each.

On the first run through listen as you would normally to get a general feel of the music.

The next few times you listen to the music you’ll need something to write with. Focus your listening each time on a specific area of the music and write down in as much detail as you can what you hear, think and feel.

Some suggestions on where you can focus your listening are:

  • Melody – how does it move? Does it repeat? How is it phrased? Is it smooth or angular?
  • Harmony – which chords are used? Simple or complex?
  • Voicing/Instrumentation – which instruments are used and how are they combined?
  • Dynamics – what are they? How are they shaped?
  • Intonation – is the tuning between and within parts good?

There are many, many more areas you can focus your listening, some specific to your instrument.

The key is to focus your listening on many areas of the music and to note down as much detail about what you hear as you can.

The more often you use this method the more easily you will be able to pick the detail from music you are listening too.

We want to help you practice better. Click here to receive regular advice or here for help on your current problems.

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