Listening is practice too

If you’ve watched FiddleHed videos on Youtube or this site, you may have heard me say “Listening is practice too” a few hundred times by now.

It may annoy you to hear that over and over. But it’s such an important point, I think it should be put more strongly: 86% of being a musician is listening.

As you can see, there is a pie chart, so you know I’ve used SCIENCE and MATH in order to make this bold statement of universal truth.

I’m going to do a series of articles on How To Practice Listening. Each one will present you with an actionable technique that you can immediately practice to heighten your your perception of listening.

Here’s the first exercise:

Listen to what’s happening around you right now. If you have music playing, pause it for this exercise. Notice all the things you hear. Are some sounds constant? Which sounds are coming and going? I call this a “Symphony of Place”. Like, “Symphony of laying on the couch on saturday morning” or “Symphony of driving in rush hour traffic on Friday afternoon.”

If possible, write down everything you hear. Do you feel any emotion related to the sounds you hear? What ideas, memories or plans come to mind? In this way you practice listening to the external place as well as your internal place. Experiment with this a little every day.

Next read Listening Is Practice Too, Two

10 responses to “Listening is practice too

  1. Sitting in my garden I can hear my wind chimes, birds singing, a lady singing a strange operatic fashion, crickets and someone cutting the grass. I like my garden. Soon if you listen very carefully you will hear someone putting the kettle on. I hope….Symphony of my garden…….

  2. Right now, I have the symphony of an old XP computer, which crashes a lot but I keep it around because it runs Photoshop 7. I’d never noticed the sound of that XP computer before. . . . My Mac Mini is quiet; no symphony there.

    But at night, its a different story. I walk with 2 dogs up the hill and the cat follows. The symphony up there is always exciting – birds and other far-off dogs mostly, but after a while, we usually we hear the deer in the woods – they stomp and snort – I love that sound! Sometimes we also get treated to another symphony after the cat eats a bunch of grass, and uh oh, here comes the hairball! If one or both dogs needs to go out in the middle of the night (frequently, usually around 3am), the symphony is of crickets and is particularly superb!

  3. Right now I am listening to a symphony called “Rainy Summer Night Next to the Fan”. What I hear is an oscelating fan set on medium speed. My window is open and there is a steady drip from a light shower outside. I am in a rocking chair that creaks occasionally as I find it impossible to sit still. I also hear the far off sounds of cars down on main street, probably going faster than the speed limit. Now my cat, impatient with me just sitting here tapping away at this silly box that isn’t a very good cheek scratcher, meows at me to get up and give him a snack before bed. Off I go!

  4. Today’s symphony: Shakespeare in the park actors (and I’m sure they love the rest haha), seagulls chasing an Eagle over head, kids screaming and the slosh of a waterfall when the giant water park bucket topples over, barbequers chattering and small airplane day overhead. Oh then the train. and the ferry and the bus and the cars. I live in a musical place. This site is such a gift for keeping my head and heart in the right place to play. Can’t say thanks enough.

Leave a Reply