Do you hear music or listen to music? Confused?
There is a difference. Hearing is not listening. Hearing something be it music, conversation, etc. is Passive. We are not fully focused and not engaged. We can jump from one thing to another while hearing.
Listening is Active, we are fully focused on what we are hearing, we are also engaged and unable to jump from one thing to another while listening.
One way to test the difference between “hearing” and “listening” is to try to recall what you heard shortly afterwards. Audio memory is very brief to begin with (that’s why I stress bringing a notebook and pen with you when auditioning gear such as speakers), but like other forms of communication, quality is everything. Let’s say you have music on while you work with any activity almost all the time. Let’s say a week later a friend or acquaintance asks, “hey, have you heard that song (insert title) by (insert artist)”? You will almost always have to say “no” even though you may have heard it and maybe more than once, because you will not be sure if you did or not as you will not remember because you were not listening. Had you sat and actually listened mindful of it, you would of course say “yes” and be able to give your opinion of it too.
Having doubts? Try this test: If you can be intellectually honest with yourself, put on a random music selection such as a CD on shuffle play or an internet radio station like Pandora or what have you and then do something such as read, or work on your PC or surf the web or whatever, while it plays a couple of songs or so. You can even try this with a portable music player and go do some exercise or yard work or whatever. after a sing or two, ask yourself what song you heard and how each song made you feel and be somewhat precise or detailed, not just “this song had a good beat” that’s not feeling. I’d bet you can’t say whether a song made you feel up or happy or sad of anything, let alone any detail. Now try sitting and actively listening to the same couple of songs again (provided you know what they were) and then ask yourself the same questions. I’d bet that you do far better.
Does listening to music take practice? Yes, I’m afraid it does, but it’s fun and doesn’t feel like work, so you don’t have to deal with drudgery. Once you begin, you want to do it forevermore. The practice and skill of listening to music as opposed to hearing it actually comes quite naturally. All you are really doing is training your ears to listen and it only requires practice which is almost as natural as breathing.
The benefit to this is that you will enjoy a deeper connection to your music and you will know good sound from bad in recordings. There are no grids, formulas, worksheets or any of that, it will come naturally the more you listen.
Another great thing is that you will appreciate the artists even more and even discover things you did not know were there.
As I discussed in my previous article about the power of music. Music is capable of so many things, powerful things that can actually help sustain one’s life through its healthy effect on the mind and emotions. One does not benefit as much from just hearing music passively, but actively listening produces the most benefit.
So you may be asking: “how do I listen to music then”?
Just like the above video said, all you have to do to start is to sit down with any music you like and focus on just enjoying it not letting any other thoughts enter in. The more you do that, the more you listen and it will become almost natural. As with all activities though, you have to want to do it. You can not be an active listener by being passive.
I have always been into music and I only recently noticed a few years ago that I tend to listen with my whole body. I let the music wash over me in a sense. At first, I used to force myself to listen, but now days it’s just something I do naturally. Having a love for music of course helps, but that too is another benefit of listening to music, if your love for music is not that strong or even if it is, truly listening to music will only increase your love and appreciation for it.
Here is a video about listening to music from a perspective you may not realize:
If you really want to get into deep waters: