Updated: Nov 10
Listening to ourselves while practicing or playing an instrument is really important. However, that is not enough. I believe the other part of listening is regarding listening to music. I feel that this should be a natural thing for anyone who enjoys playing an instrument. But, so many times, I discover that a lot of professional musicians don’t actually listen to music, neither for their instrument nor any other. I can understand that life is busy, and finding time to listen and appreciate music could be really difficult.
However, I would consider two points:
We don’t live in the beginning of 1900! That means, with the technology available today, we can listen to music everywhere, anytime. We don’t have excuses! It is so easy and so nice. You can actually choose the music that you want and avoid the music that you don’t want to listen to. Personally, I've developed a routine that consists of finding the music that I want to listen to the day before, downloading it, and then listening to it mostly during my travel to work, walking, or whatever allows me to do that. I can guarantee at least 6/7 hours of listening to music every week. Sometimes I do other things too, like reading, writing, or just enjoying the music.
If you really want, you will find the time and the moment, no excuses! Especially for musicians, this could be crucial. Someone who likes to play an instrument, likes the sound of it, likes to play music with friends and so on, can’t find time to enjoy the masters that play tremendously well?!
I believe it's more connected to the habit of doing that.
This is easy to change!
Step 1 - Set a 30-day challenge (e.g., listen to music for 30 minutes every day for 30 days).
Step 2 - Journalize it every day (what you listened to, your impressions,…)
Step 3 - After the 30 days, carry on listening (another 30 days, minimum 30
minutes each day). It is up to you if you want to continue with your journal.
Step 4 - Last step. Enjoy it! You were strict with yourself for 2 months; now you create the conditions to enjoy your listening whenever you want!
Once these points are covered, let’s have a look at why it's important.
I don’t want to make a list of how much research has shown the benefits of listening to music, but there is so much! Everyone lives music in the way they want, and from the point of view of a musician trained to listen to music in a specific way, you can get so much from it. It becomes an activity that involves hearing, tasting, seeing, touching, smelling… everything! As a musician, this is fantastic for inspiration too.
Many times, I took ideas by listening to other musicians (and not just guitarists). Some of them are brilliant, and it is possible to elaborate an idea and make it personal by adapting it to your personal taste.
Or, it can be just a starting point. Then, their music and my music become alive. I learn so much from guitarists like Julian Bream or John Williams, pianists Maria Joao Pires or Martha Argerich, cellists Mario Brunello or Rostropovic. But many and many others too.
The way they play, breathe, act, and think is just amazing.
Another point is that you discover so much new music. I always suggested my repertoire to my teachers and agreed with them on what to play during the year. All of my ideas come from listening. A piece that I know takes me to a piece that I don’t know and so on.
A few years ago, it was easier for me to watch video performances, particularly YouTube videos. Now it comes more from albums and streaming platforms like Amazon Music, Spotify, or Patreon. It is so easy and impressive the amount of music that you can listen to.
It is a good balance to listen to great performers as well as new musicians. A lot of new music is available because of the new generation of musicians. Listening to them helps them in their career, and most of the time, they want to do the best they can, so they put everything they have into the music. If we want them to keep making great music, everyone should help them in their journey!
So, when you finish reading this article, why not open your Amazon Music, Spotify (or whatever you have) and make sure you have some music to listen to as soon as you have some time available?!
You can start today with your personal 30 days of listening!