I am excited to write this blog to review our previous Home Concert on Sunday, October 22, 2017, at our auditorium. That Sunday was our third monthly concert for this term. Although the participants were much less than the previous months, the same energy and nervousness remained. They learned that, no matter how big or small the audience, to control their nervous and mindfulness during the performance. As in the previous concerts, I gave a short motivational speech, and on that Sunday, I stressed the importance of listening during the concert.
Whether we are newbie or a concert-goer veteran, we will always hear the same friendly reminders before concert: to turn mobile phones to silent mode, refrain from speaking, remain in the seats at all times, and only clap after the piece is performed in its entirety. So, what is the purpose of this seemingly rigid concert etiquette? The logical reason is simply to give the performer peace of mind so that he or she will give his best performance. However, the actual reason behind this etiquette is subjective: to train our listening ear. And listening can only happen when the environment is quiet and also when we ourselves are not distracted by our smart phones. Listening takes more than just two ears; it takes our entire mind to process it critically and a full heart to receive, share, and to practice what we learn.
Listening requires full concentration. We cannot listen well when we do other things at the same time. When you “listen” to music while reading a book, it is called “hearing” music. Because when we read a book, our mind is all into the book and we will pay no attention to the slightest change in dynamic, tempo, or let alone any tone colors in the music (well, except you are a professional listener, which most of us are not). We won’t understand or even learn anything when we just “hear” music. Therefore, the best way to expose ourselves to listening music is to go to concerts more frequently. Going to concerts make us really good listeners in the long run.
Some of you may ask, but what about listening to music at home? Sure, by all means, especially if you live in a town where good classical music concerts is scarce. Listening to music through Youtube or CD recording is better than nothing at all. However, we all have to admit that live concerts always sound so much better than the recordings.
The feeling and energy of having many people sitting next to us and enjoy the concerts together is a very different experience compared to listening to music alone (again, unless you are a professional musician). Even professional musicians find it more inspiring and touching when they attend the live concerts.
What is so important anyway about listening?
Listening is the first step to learning. Poor listening skills will have bad impact on the learning behavior in the long run. The moment we stop listening, we stop learning and improving altogether. Listening is also a very good life skills. We will rid ourselves of troubles and conflicts when we listen more than we speak. James 1: 19 (NIV) says that “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Let that be the reminder verse that guide our character in nurturing our listening skills.
Having known the facts about listening, how do we as parents guide our children to listen to music more attentively? The first step is to go to live concert
. If your child never attend the concert before, he or she will never understand the meaning of music without experiencing it live. For very young children though, since going to standard concerts require a certain minimum age, they have another option to experience music through attending music and movement classes, such as our Kindermusik
The next step is to listen to audio recordings
, such as the online apps: apple music
. We suggest to start with audio only recording, not with the video, as it will strengthen the ears more. Keep the focused listening time as short as 2-3 minutes first and then gradually extend. A piece of classical music can be as short as 1 min to over an hour. An opera music generally takes more than three hours to listen to; Well, for an opera, we suggest to attend the live performance since the opera is supposed to be enjoyed, along with the music, with the visual effects.
Another helpful tips is to get a pair of headsets
and a media to play the music, such as the ipad or smartphones; this allow you to listen to the music on the go, such as in the car or while waiting in the grocery line.
I hope you find this writing insightful. Now go listen to music, attend a live concert, and write your thoughts in the journal and then share with your children, family, and friends.