Why do we need to learn how to listen
Why do we need to distinguish hearing from listening
Our musical knowledge is learned, the product of long experience; maybe not years spent over playing an instrument, but a lifetime spent absorbing music from our environment by default and/or by choice. Once you hear something you can not “unhear” it. Our ears have been influenced by our personal experiences, memories (and prejudices) and it is hard to say we can truly listen something with “innocent” ears.
How do we learn to listen to music, something that seems so obvious we take it for granted?
The two most prominent tools that we have as conscious beings - our attention and our intention, combined determine the quality of our listening experience.
Mindful music listening can benefit most anyone, and applications are wide ranging, from wellness and peak performance to rehabilitation, in settings ranging from homes, schools, hospitals, wellness clinics, assisted living facilities and business organizations.
Hearing is essentially a passive, indiscriminate response to sound, i.e. we have the sound and music in our life (noise, environmental sounds, background music) that happens to us passively and by chance.
Listening, on the other hand is an active response to the phenomena of sound; it focuses in on certain sounds to the exclusion of others. It involves the will as well as a neurological process.
Conscious music listening i.e. having music in our lives by choice and design is a skill attained through the same deliberate practice as any other pursuit of human excellence. It should be regarded more as an action coming from insight than an activity. Listening to music, then becomes something that aids inner transformation vs. something that fills our time.
One can then begin to realize that music identity or “likeliness” for certain music piece/style depended not upon one's beliefs (inherited or manufactured) but it actually depended on how much attention one has paid to things that were other than “his-her” music identity. And as one deepens this intentionality and attention, one starts to broaden and deepen the sense of the music world.
On every new, repeated listening of the same musical piece one can find a new meaning. Not only because of potentially different interpretation of musical score, change of acoustic environment or soundscape, but because the landscape of our life is different and new as well, continuously “reloaded” by the very act of living.