Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent” ~ Victor Hugo
Developing Listening Skills is a primer for getting into the right state of mind to listening or performing jazz. In American culture when Y2K hit technological advancements in the making of devices, i.e. Xbox, iPhones, iPad and tablets our attention span became severely diminished. Our innate ability to actively listen is became necessary in order for you to process the media sounds you hear and see. Dad after teaching us sight-singing taught us the basics and how to sharpen your listening skills When you are listening to music you will need to: focus, actively listen and discern the subtle changes in sound. Experienced musicians with a lot of practice become disciplined and informed listeners. I remember one rehearsal when the music sounded great to me but dad held up his hands shouting Hold it hold it, stop. 2nd flutes take it from the top of bar 17 and play it again. They played it, dad had a frown on his face, is that what is written on the chart? They all nodded. Dad ran over to the musicians and made the necessary changes and handed it back to them. The musicians smiled and nodding their heads Yeah man, that’s it! Dizzy would always jokingly say Your father like your Aunt Lorraine can hear paint drying on the wall, in the other room! We both would laugh. The good news is with practice, so can you! I am a baby boomer, I didn’t listen to rock music at deafening levels and don’t get me wrong cuz attending recording and rehearsals on a daily basis you could have the same effect. I remember going to recording sessions with Dionne Warwick and Diana Ross, they wore headphones (on one ear) that piped in the background music recorded on separate tracks while they sang or dubbed the vocal track into a microphone. When I tried to do that I sounded like an animal was being sacrificed. I have mad respect for singers and musicians because of their talent and ability to collaborate with one another.
In the midst of the fog of cancer, chemotherapy and surgery changed my mental abilities. Doctors and nurses referred to it as “chemo brain”, and when mom died in 2003 from breast cancer, life became overwhelming and slowed the process down to a complete stop sometimes. A vital part of my healing and transformation that inspires me to reconstruct my life is that I considered it my second chance. A chance to set things right. It isn’t easy, I have learned to go with my new-found flow and find triggers from my year of living musically. I have stuck with it and remind my self that timing is everything! I am going to get to that lesson soon. Over time, I have become able to actively listen to music and write prose and poetry. It even improved my relationships with all kinds of folks.
So to sum things up, there are three primary elements involved in Critical thinking when it comes to music: a) Reflection: where you would look at what you’ve learned about music appreciation and then you compare it to where you are now. b) Analysis: you would take a closer look at what you know and what you need to learn or develop skills when you listen or practice music. The third is c) Active listening: when you make minor adjustments to make the sound come true to your ear. Try to listen to trumpet players like Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis, close your eyes and try to identify the difference in their style of playing. I am going to go into the specifics in the upcoming posts, so don’t stress. . Peace Out!
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