Sunday, December 20, 2009

Listening, whether to conversation or to music, is among life's more difficult skills. "Ear Training," a required course for musicians-in-school, is more about identifying than about listening. Real listening calls for the ability to shed definitions and hear objectively--though I admit the possibility that objective listening may be an oxymoron.

I have always said that if I were to found a music school listening would be the central discipline, not practicing or competing, or analysis based on visual perception of the printed score. Students would develop a vocabulary to express their responses to all kinds of musical sounds and situations. The pursuit of excellence would be defined by the desire to satisfy one's own ear. I have found that difficult in the extreme.