The Importance of Listening

Strange as it seems when one deals with music, but I feel a need to say a few words about it.

The reason why I have come up with this particular idea for the article is the situation which I see daily both as a piano teacher and as a human being.

I feel that in nowadays world, students listen to music far too little. However, music listening is of a paramount importance because of a number of reasons. For example, when the students are exposed to the great masterpieces, they can develop their musical taste better as well as gain in more imagination. Furthermore, it will start up and enhance their cognitive abilities, for music in particular, but also for many other dealings in their everyday life, even including the mathematical tasks and tests. The mathematical side of the matters will work very well if they have music listening and music learning (piano in particular) in a combination. The worth of music listening cannot be overemphasised for another important reason and that is the sense of beauty, sophistication and higher values and thus helping in building a better society in general. The great philosophers of the Ancient world were talking about all of these important influences which music makes on people.

Another more technical reason why music students should listen actively to music as much as possible is the listening process while doing their own music practising and performing, whether they learn the piano or any other instrument, or if they sing.

I would draw attention here to the subatomic parts of music, the intervals between the notes. In daily work in singing and with the string instruments, this issue shows itself more obviously, almost imposes itself. With the piano and other keyboard instruments it is less obvious, but that does not mean that it is less important, thou for slightly other reasons. While intoning each particular note in a relation to the previous one is a fundamental technical necessity in singing and the string instruments, it is not the technical necessity for the piano and keyboard instruments as the note pitch is already there, tuned by the instrument technician. However, for the sake of a more musical and musically more logical performance, and consequently more expressive performance in dynamics as well as for a proper development of the hands, intervals do matter for the piano and the keyboard instruments because imagining the intonation in a, say, pianist's brain, helps tremedously in making these crucial connections between the notes, resulting in very expressive melodic lines and great clarity. Also, it directs the attention of the performer to the sound itself, and thus enriching the everpresent rudimentary thoughts about keyboard, fingers and all other physical and mechanical parametres involved in a piano performance. When playing more musically, the piano technique is raised to a higher level, performing even more sophisticated actions in comparison to the flat dynamics level where the movements are more of a rough nature.

Another very important thing that I would like to highlight is listening to live performances. I would encourage very strongly the students, and not only the students, to attend real live performances of good quality music whenever possible. Having the wonderful presence of Youtube, where we have many great studio recordings and live concerts recordings just a click away from us, still cannot replace the actuall real feeling of a live concert happening in front of the listeners own very ears and eyes. The special chemistry and magnetism that takes place in a concert hall in a particular moment can never be replaced by anything and that sort of experiences will definitely stick in the minds of any music learner, helping them in their own music practising as well as in bringing them up into better, more sophisticated and more noble human beings.

Listen to music and get inspired!

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