Music Ed Mondays – Listen Harder Than You Play

This is one of my favourite one-liners.  It just says so much in so little (the mark of a good one-liner, I say!):

– It tells the musicians to ramp their awareness.
– It encourages them to focus their attention on something.
– It reinforces them to take a greater responsibility for the whole…

And more!

As musicians, it’s so easy to get lost in our part, especially if it’s technical.  But if you’re playing an ensemble and aren’t the soloist, it doesn’t matter how well you can play your part if it’s not going to coalesce with the rest of the ensemble.  I know that I’m not really saying anything new, but the harder I try and solve the problem, the less I realize that it’s probably an easy solution that’s solved by not by the band playing harder, but listening harder.

Even when I’m playing in an ensemble, I constantly have to remind myself to listen to the people around me, and I bet the kids in the ensemble need it too.

We’ve been working on articulation like crazy in my Jr. Symphonic band.  Okay, that’s a half truth – we’ve been practicing “reading the whole notation,” not just reading rhythms, then dynamics, then articulation, but drawing awareness to all of those parts of the notes… but the lynchpin is always articulation.  It always got better when we would isolate sections and all I’d say is “listen for the articulation,” then it was fixed.

It wasn’t about fixing, but about awareness.   Now pull the awareness to other aspects that you’re working on in your performance: Pitch, tempo, shape, etc.

Maybe it’s not about more rehearsal, maybe just more awareness… and more listening.

Anyway, I don’t pretend to be the master, but this is something I’ve been thinking about!

Your homework: Try and it for a week or two and see what your class does.   How do they respond? Do the elements that you’re working on improve or stay the same?

Let me know!

PS: I have the BEST VGM Wednesday this week! I’m SO excited!

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