Monday, October 3, 2011
Listening Is Learning
I have the pleasure of playing with a lot of musicians from all around the world. I also get a chance to play all kinds of musical styles. One of the cool things about music is that you can take people who have never played together and if they share a certain vibe and level of professionalism they can sound like they have been together forever. I grew up listening to all kinds of music from classical to country and everything in between. The more I play I finally understand that listening is learning. I have to play a lot of music and most of the times it's music I've heard but never played. What I have found is all those years of listening to music was really beneficial because I actually learned the song just from hearing it a lot. I mean I spent hours listening to jazz standards, Motown, funk, r&b, country . . . etc. I was just a fan of great lyrics and melody so if I've heard it I can play it. Listening is as important as practicing probably more so because playing or practicing is like speaking and listening is like thinking and we all know that you should think before you speak, therefor you should listen before you play. It is also amazing how still segregated we all are in our musical tastes. Listening to music that is from a different culture and experience than yours can only help to broaden your world view and understanding of different people and their cultures. When I was in college I had a music history teacher, Dr. Dollye Robinson, who would always warn against becoming ethnocentric, which she defined as thinking that the music you knew from your culture was all there is. She said it was important to embrace music from everywhere and especially as music majors we should be listening to music ALL the time. She was so right. For all musicians, it is important that we expose ourselves to all kinds of music. This only helps improve our skills and our worth. I can't tell you how many calls I get just because I can play so many styles of music. I can only do so because I listen to everything I can find. Even now I still like listening to a lot of music. I dig a lot of new stuff as well as I enjoy revisiting music I've listened to for years. What I find is that as you mature so do your listening skills. When I listen now, I'm hearing things I didn't hear when I was a teenager. I think they call that life experience. LOL. Remember listening IS learning. Never forsake it. Enjoy the journey.
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