Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Ear Training for Music and Life

Listening - one key to musicianship and to survival in life.  For musicians there are a variety of ear training programs available to develop this skill.  Processes to develop our listening in life are a bit more elusive and perhaps a bit more difficult to implement when found.

I can listen and learn to identify tones and intervals on my guitar or a piano in a practice studio.  The stakes here are practically nonexistent. But how to practice deep listening with a loved one?  How to listen when another person is distressed?  As our world becomes smaller and full of people who absolutely know that they are right - can I listen to them? Will I listen to them?  Can I listen to the dissonant and complex harmonies of clashing cultural, religious and political storms?  Can I hear in my heart and soul that we all want and need to be heard?  Especially those I dislike?  Those that offend me?  Those I do not understand?

I can hear the urgency of the cry of a loved one in distress, but what about their more subtle and nuanced tones?  When I hear fear, will I resolve it's jagged melody?  Allow the driven tempo of anger to come to rest?  To resolution?  What do I hear in silence?  Effective listening requires practice.  Practice quieting my mind; quieting my feelings.  Practice building awareness of where I am here and now.  Practice, discipline, practice. Very similar to learning an instrument - the voice of love.  Dare I listen as if the world depended on it?  The practice begins - Now!

Let my being
Intently focus on

After writing this much I was not sure this post was complete.  Time to pick up my guitar I reasoned.  Listen to her and see if any answers or clarity arrived.  Before entering my practice space, I paused, connected with my intention and  myself.  Freedom in playing was my intention.  A few minutes into running through my second piece, Turning the Wheel,  I noticed an internal dialogue was underway.  I paused to quiet, good to listen to myself I reasoned.  Freedom may very well begin in the mind.  After quieting my mind I resumed playing the piece.  After working with a transition, I moved on to an improvisation.  Simple and beautiful.  Then another improvisation which became complicated, judgement arose in my mind.  Can I listen to my improvisations without judgement?  Can I listen to another person without judgement?  Ah the work never ends.

Photo by Tinu

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