The Art of Listening

By Nathan Pulse

Hi everyone, it's the end of the summer and I'd like to talk about something that seems very obvious but often times get overlooked by younger players. The thing I am talking about is listening. One of the very first things a music teacher will ask his/her students is "Who do you listen to?" It is always surprising to me that the answer is very often "I don't know" or "I don't listen to (insert your instrument here)".

It is very easy to overlook listening to music that involves your instrument due to a number of reasons. Often people assume that playing in band is enough listening, but that's not very helpful since everyone there is still learning. It is especially important for young musicians to listen to professional recordings so that they can hear what their instrument can truly sound like. If you have those great musicians as a resource, then you can listen to, and emulate their sound. It may surprise you what your instrument is capable of with hard work and focused practice time.

With the growth of the Internet and easy access to music both free and affordable, there is almost no artist on any instrument that you cannot find and listen to with ease. You may find that your previous favorite genre has a band or artist that uses your instrument in a way that you never expected. Remember, there is an almost unlimited amount of music out there that spans hundreds of genres so there is no saying that one particular genre must be your focus. Another great bonus of listening is developing a love for your instrument beyond just your years in school. Once you graduate you may find that you wish to keep playing, but have no interest in playing the same kinds of music that you did in school. That is ok! You have the ability to start or join a band and play your instrument in almost any style that there is, and it really helps to have listened to tons of music so that you have a better idea of how to fit your instrument in the mix.

Now go and listen, you'll be really glad that you did.