Active Listening

A photo of Jeff Conner.

Now is the time for young musicians to become active listeners and dive into various worlds of music that they didn’t know existed. As our mentor, friend, and colleague Sam Pilafian would say, “It’s like money in the bank.”

Watch Streamed Material

Due to cancellations of live performances, many musical organizations are opening their libraries of concerts and masterclasses to share with the world. Symphonic music, jazz, opera, chamber music, and band music are all available for a listening and learning experience that you would have never imagined.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra and New York Philharmonic are just two of the world’s leading orchestras that are opening their listening libraries for free. Besides recent live concert videos, they are also posting archival concerts that are an important part of music history. The Berliner Philharmoniker has a free trial of its Digital Concert Hall app. It is the most incredible online resource for orchestral music offered anywhere in the world.

Take advantage of these incredible opportunities. As students of music, listening is a big part of our education. By hearing great music performed by great musicians, our ears will expand beyond what we think possible. Listening critically is just as important as what we do behind the horn.

Be a Fan

If you ask high school basketball, football, or baseball players if they have a favorite professional idol, every hand would be raised. That’s not typically the case when talking with high school musicians. Young performers should expose themselves to professional players on their instruments. By doing so, they would have a sound to try and imitate when they play.

Analyze Pieces

Your teachers can guide your listening by posting audio materials online. Have discussions with your band directors, private teachers, or friends comparing different recordings, players, and styles. Try playing some “ear games” by tracking certain sections or specific instruments.

So much great music of all styles exists in the world. Time to get busy!

About the author

Jeff Conner

Jeff Conner is the only original member of Boston Brass. He has more than 30 years of experience building and branding the Boston Brass name in the world of chamber music. As a Yamaha Performing Group, Boston Brass has performed in 49 states and 30 countries, is a featured participant in conferences and conventions, and leads master classes and artist residencies around the world.

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