Levels of Listening

Listening, listening . . . always listening. I find it helpful to break down my listening into three categories:

Level 1) Soak it in. It’s on, and I’m hearing it.

Level 2) Intense listening. For some reason, the music speaks to me, and I’m on a quest to find out why. Is there some rhythmic element that’s fascinating? Harmonic? Melodic or instrumentation? What’s grabbing me?

Sometimes, I’ll bring my ipod to the practice room and just start playing along. There’s not a ton of good jazz musicians in Grand Rapids (and if there are, they aren’t hanging out with me), so I’ll “sit in” with Miles Davis for a half-hour or so and just play along.

Level 3) Transcription. I have been so moved by some part of listening level “2” that I’m going to figure it out and incorporate it into my own playing. Usually, I’ll write the idea down in a music notebook in one key and work on learning it in all twelve. (With a metronome, but that’s a different post.)

Sound nerdy? [pushes glasses up on face] It is. But it’s how I grow as a musician.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? What are you hearing?


One thought on “Levels of Listening

  1. This might be helpful for some of your readers to check out for #3:

    I haven’t tried to take a whole solo through all twelve keys. Sounds amazingly hard (and over course very useful if you are going to put in the work). I do it with licks that I like from solos, but never the whole solo. That would take me forever…

    In terms of listening in jazz and how it relates to Christianity, here is a video of a section from my Master’s presentation if anyone is interested:

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