Friday, March 8, 2013

Listening as the Basis for Learning

I knew long ago that if ever I founded a music school its main focus would be on listening, not on technical achievement, for it has always seemed to me that if young people are encouraged to listen in a holistic manner they will recognize the qualities that make music irresistible and will need no requirements to ensure that they study thoroughly.

Ear training is the opposite of listening, for it is devoted to naming what one hears, identifying tones. intervals, and themes--a process that  restricts listening in the larger sense.  An example: When the student listens for the theme it becomes irrelevant that it is now in a different key, i.e., in an altered resonance environment.  The alteration is the real subject, not "the" theme.

I find it particularly annoying that such over-simplifications are typical of teaching at the earliest stages, when it is most crucial that concepts do not block perceptions.