Monthly Archives: October 2014

Listening is Learning

One of the most  important and enjoyable methods of learning an instrument is often the simplest; listening to  master musicians playing the instrument that the student is learning.   This allows the student to hear how the instrument is supposed to sound in a variety of musical contexts..  When I am teaching, one of my methods is to always play for and with the student.

I ask students to tell me “What made them decide to play that particular instrument?”  Most students will say, ” Because it looked easy to carry.”  Although this may be true for the flute and clarinet players, the reasons I prefer to hear are, ” I heard someone playing the instrument and I liked the sound.”

Learning an instrument is very much like learning to speak a language. As you listen to the spoken words  you start to imitate the sounds and tones that you are hearing.  Imagine trying to learn to speak a language  only  from a book, without ever hearing pronunciation, articulation, expression, or tone.  The same principles apply to music.

I recommend that  parents play music in the house of various instruments in orchestral settings such as classical orchestras, big band swing orchestras and jazz combos. Play the music in the background without saying a word and see what questions and reactions this prompts.  You Tube is  a treasure trove of vintage and contemporary performers.

We live in a time when  everyone seems to be locked away in their own musical  worlds via ear buds.  Music used to be a  shared experience.  Take your children to concerts, live  musicals and high school band productions.

With the advances of technology people today  have their music  on “invisible”  digital form devices. When you actually collect CD’s or vinyl records you have a tangible item that is more meaningful than digital downloads.   Turntables and record player-CD combinations are sold all overt the internet.

Although it may seem “old school” to  have a CD or  a vinyl record collection, it is still a great way to develop  an appreciation of music.  I have students who have discovered  vinyl records and CD’s and have begun their own musical libraries which prompts a treasure hunt of great music and fun. With a record or CD you have a piece of useable-playable art complete with photos, liner notes. As the musical  collection grows, so does the student’s ear and appreciation of music.

In the next blog I will post some of my favorite artist that you can view on You Tube.