February 9th, 2023 • Teacher Tips
Music = Your Best Teacher
Provided by Tetsuya Nishiyama, guitar Artist-Faculty
We all know the importance of setting clear goals to improve, building a practice routine, working on your weaknesses…etc. These are 100% crucial to being a better musician. However, I would say that the power of listening is often forgotten. We forget how much we can absorb musical nutrition for our musical growth by active listening. Your musical tree will not grow big and tall if there is no rich soil and enough nutrition. I cannot emphasize enough that active listening is the only way to develop your own musical tastes and musical ears.
Here’s some listening tips that I developed for myself:
- If you are learning a new repertoire, listen to the recordings over and over till you can play the music in your head. If there are many versions of the same piece/song, listen to as many as you can, and see which one is your favorite. The key is to make a personal connection with the new repertoire before you start practicing. You will learn music much faster and deeper.
- Select a series of recordings that exemplify your directions and illuminate areas which you especially need to work. The section should be short, one or two minutes at the longest. For example, take 2 minutes of sonata, 16 bars of an improvised cadenza, and just a minute of your new music you want to learn next…etc.
- Make a total 10-20 minutes of your personal listening playlist and actively listen to it once or twice every day for at least a few weeks as a part of your practice.
It is just like how great chefs develop an amazing sense of taste because they trained their tongue by tasting so many dishes again and again. We musicians develop our own musical taste by listening to amazing artists/masters. Music is always your best teacher!