As a musician, listening is a must in order to keep up with your craft and to improve your skills. The importance of listening to music, to others, and to yourself should not be ignored.
In order to make sufficient progress as a musician, you need good listening skills. You also need to be able to listen to different things, because the more you listen, the more you will learn.
In this post, I want to talk about a few things you should always listen to as a musician. I am not going to go into specific musicians or other details, but I want to cover the basics.
The first resource you should use and listen to is your music teacher. If you are taking private lessons, your teacher has much more experience than you and probably knows what to say to teach you.
It may sound obvious, but listening to your teacher will help in more ways than one. You can listen to what your teacher says about your playing, and you can listen to your teacher play.
If you don’t have a private teacher but are in band or orchestra, you should also listen. Your director may not know much about your instrument, but they do understand how instruments work and what you can do to help the ensemble.
Whether you go to YouTube in search of a recording by a virtuosic musician or you just want to listen to friends, other musicians can help you. You want to listen to a variety of players so that you can understand how your instrument works and what others like to do.
By listening to good recordings, you can of course learn your pieces, but you can also open yourself up to new and different sounds. If you limit yourself to only listening to one or two people, you are limiting your sound.
Other musicians, whether they play your instrument or not, have their own voice. I love listening to all sorts of instruments so that I can understand how I can make a better sound and to learn how I can blend with other instruments.
This is so important, and I wish more people would listen to themselves. You can listen to yourself while you play or through a recording. I know it can be hard to listen to yourself, I will often cringe when listening to recordings, but you need to do it.
You can learn so much from listening to yourself. While you can start by just listening live, recording yourself is super helpful. When you are playing, you often need to focus on playing, and you can’t focus on listening.
A recording allows you to go back, follow along with your music, and listen for what you like and dislike. You can record yourself with nothing but a smartphone. So don’t give the excuse that you can’t afford any equipment. You already have a solid option.
This one is often overlooked by a lot of musicians, and I don’t think that’s right. Your body is your greatest tool. It is how you make music and do just about everything else in life. You need to treat it well and to listen to it.
If your muscles are starting to tense up or you are getting tired, take a break. You might have been told by a teacher that you need to practice multiple hours a day. But if that is not realistic for you and your body, you can hurt yourself.
As much as I would love to play music all of the time, I can’t. My shoulders and fingers can get tired, and I need to take a break. I then switch to other tasks, such as doing work for this blog. Or I watch videos on YouTube.
If you only listen to one thing, please, let it be your body. The last thing you want is to have to stop playing long term because you overworked yourself.
Listening to other musicians, to your teacher, and to yourself can serve you for the rest of your musical career. You can learn so much from listening to recordings or by taking notes in a private lesson.
If you need to take a break from playing, don’t stop listening. You may not be able to practice your instrument, but you can think about what you want to do next time you pick it back up.
I am not always the best at listening, but I still think it is an important tool and skill for musicians. There are things that you can’t learn otherwise. As with language, you need some sort of reference when it comes to making music. You can only get that reference by listening.
How do you incorporate listening into your music routine? Let me know in the comments. And don’t forget to subscribe for music tips and tricks sent right to your inbox!