Active Listening with understanding

LISTENING

Important because?

The first skill that needs attention is listening. Many of us hear, but most of us do not retain what we hear and fewer of us can take what we hear and “playback” the sounds either on our instrument or on paper. In this chapter, you will find exercises to develop your musical memory and your skills to playback either on your instrument or on paper.

Listening Is an important part of how we communicate, hearing is vital to understanding our surroundings. Careless listening can result in misunderstandings and misconceptions. It can also result in bad musical performances, frustration and career damaging situations.

What is your current listening skill? You are probably like everyone else and your skill set is currently uneven. Some things are easy for you and other things are not. Take some time right now and list the areas that you know need improvement

So, first things first: How to listen to music. Most of us listen in one of the following ways:

Passive listening – this is how most people listen- to each other, to lectures and to music. partial Awareness is the norm. When,we listen passively, we miss a large amount of the content and may misunderstand completely.

Active listening – Is what we do when we tell ourselves or are told by others to pay attention. We capture more of the content, when listening actively than when listening passively. But, we still miss some things because, we don’t always know what is important and what is not important.

Active Listening with understanding – understanding means preparation. Preparation means learning what are the important things to listen for. Such as: listening to an improvised solo requires some knowledge of style – Dixieland has different requirements than free jazz. Listening to either without adjusting the benchmarks will result in wrong assessments of the solos.

We, of course, want the skills needed for Active Listening with understanding. Here are the questions that need to answered for our success:

1. What are needed skills?
a. Ability to identify :
i. Style – is it Rock, Country, Jazz, Baroque? If you have difficulty
deciding spend some time listening to (and reading about) examples.
Develop a sense of musical style.
ii. Instruments and individual parts
iii. Form – learn to identify the shape of the music by focusing on
1) The melody- identify how many different melodic segments there
are and when they occur
2) the harmony – learn to identify whether the progression repeats
or is through composed
3) The rhythm- learn to identify whether there is a recurring
rhythmic pattern
iv. Ability to remember
1) Melody – the ability to sing or play back melodic fragments or
complete melodies
2) Rhythmic patterns- the ability to sing or play back rhythmic
fragments or complete patterns

2. What is your current skill level?

Self assessment requires complete honesty. Carefully consider each part of the above skills list and make a decision whether you can perform the skill with mastery. Note: most people do not have complete mastery of this skill list. For each skill, on the list, give yourself a grade between one and five with one being the highest and five, the lowest level.
The following list of exercises will help you improve your mastery of the skill list

Exercises/Activities: Listening parties – good game for bands or sections in a band – do the Exercises/activities below – play for pizza or ???

1. Sing along with recordings – a quick way to internalize content.
a. Listen to the recording at least once before you start singing. You will have to
decide if you need to listen more than once
i. First time, that you sing, focus on the melody. Record yourself and
playback the recording to check for accuracy.
ii. Second time, focus on the harmony lines. Record yourself and check for
accuracy.
iii. Third time, focus on the bass line. Record yourself and checked for
accuracy.
2. Exercise: for two people or one person with two recorders (or a multi-track recorder or
app) . First person (or make recording and playback) sings melody; second person sings
either harmony or bass line – switch parts – always record your performance. Start with
simple songs and work your way to more difficult melodies and chord progressions. After
you are comfortable (and successful singing) do the exercise with your instruments.
Remember: Always record your work

3. Listening games – can be played by one person – much more fun and productive played by
two to four people (more people – need to write down and compare results)
a. With recordings or at Live performances – local clubs; concerts; rehearsals; jam
sessions
i. Identify style
ii. Identify instruments
iii. Identify form
iv. Identify purpose
4. Other Activities:
a. Read/Study – go to your local library, bookstore etc., Borrow books from friends.
b. Discuss/Argue – group of 2 to 4 people: select a recording, schedule a time and
listen and discuss. Use the same guidelines suggested for brainstorming.
Respect each other’s opinions and make sure everyone has a chance to express
their opinion. This activity can be very good, because each person will express
a different perspective. Each perspective will offer insights into the music.
NOTE: this activity can also turn out to be very bad. It is important that
everyone is sensitive to each other and does not try to dominate the discussion.
i. Possible topics to discuss
1) If the music you’re listening to has been recorded several times,
you might want to compare the recordings and note differences
ad/or ask the following questions.
a) Are differences effective?
b) What is the purpose of the differences?
c) What would each of you do if you were the recording
artist?
c. Go to performances, lectures and conferences to hear artists, composers and
performers discuss the music that they perform and/or create
d. Take a course, either at a college or online. There are very many options
available to you.

In conclusion, listen carefully, discuss often and seek out as many opinions that you can.
Active listening with understanding will be the result of an active and thoughtful process.

Getting Started in a Music Career

Getting started in the music business can be daunting. Maybe, you live in a small village in an area that has very limited music opportunities. Maybe, you are also working at a fast food restaurant to pay your bills. Every day on the job is spent working with non-musicians. Any connection with the music business and other musicians is very limited. Or maybe, you live in a major city where there is an active music business. But, competition is fierce and you don’t any idea where to begin.
So, what to do? Is all lost? No not at all, actually, the situation is not all bad news. There are several available options that can be used to get our young friend started on a career path.
The usual opportunities need to be used as much as possible: take lessons from a professional; take classes at the local college/university; join local musician associations/unions. Today, success will require that you have more knowledge and business understanding to effectively plan your career.
The world has changed dramatically in the past 5 to 10 years. Today’s cyber world provides many opportunities that just were not possible a short time ago. That progress has raised the requirements for everyone. Today, you can have presence on FaceBook, Linkedin and other social media groups designed for musicians. You can take classes and lessons on-line from accredited colleges/university. You can also join on-line forums and groups to network with other jazz musicians -all without quitting his job or moving to a large city. Using social networks to promote your career is not optional, it is necessary.
Is the on-line experience the same as being there, face to face with other musicians? No, it is not, but not being the same does not automatically equal “less than”. Being face to face with other musicians is meaningless, if there is not any meaningful interaction. Being a passive participant is not productive. On-line or face to face , there must be interaction. sharing, asking questions, learning or teaching are all active activities. Lurking on-line instead of actively interacting will far less productive but, most importantly, active participation means that your name will become familiar to other members of the forum or group – THIS IS IMPORTANT.
Success will depend upon having a well thought out plan. Everyone needs a good plan to guide their career and that plan should be created with clearly defined goals aimed at the desired career. There are many on-line resources available to help anyone to develop goals, plans and long term business plans. Selecting the most effective forums, chat rooms and classes will take some research and thought. Referrals from other musicians will be the best source for information. If possible, check the membership lists to see who are members.
Building a network is one of the more important tasks, you will need to do for success. This is a significant requirement. You must know and be known by other musicians if you want to be called for gigs Seems self-evident doesn’t it? But, many people try to create careers by themselves without letting other more experienced musicians provide some helpful advice. First, you need to let them know that you want to join them in the music business.
Here are some strategies for building a network: Building a network will be easy on social media sites such as Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. Pick some major “shakers and movers” to follow and hopefully befriend and start interacting with each other. Find a Mastermind group in your area and join it. Do an internet search for groups or clubs in your area. Subscribe to the local newspaper to find concerts, lectures etc. Place an ad on Craigslist asking for information about nearby meetings, conferences etc. that would be of interest. Join National associations. Most importantly, look at the current situation, make a plan to improve your situation and then put the plan to work. Don’t wait, fix and adjust as you go. Ask questions, revise plans and work at your plans every day – success will follow. Good Luck!

Career Planning – Getting on the “A” Team

“you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”: Jim Rohn

This sounds a lot like what my mother used to tell me: ”you will be judged by the people you run with”.

So, is there any truth to the above? How about his: the T-shirt logo: “It’s hard to soar like an eagle when you fly with Turkeys”

Ouch! I don’t know if there have been polls or studies to prove or disprove any of these ideas, but there is common sense logic to each of them. If, we accept them as having some truth, what do we need to do to avoid becoming the picture on the T-shirt?

First of all, what do they mean to us?

I think that they say – if you want to succeed, you had better make sure that you surround yourself with people who are on the path to success or have already achieved some successes.
Building a career in the music business requires careful consideration of several things that will be another blog post. So, let’s say that you have done all the research and know what you want to do as a musician and where you plan to live while you work. Let’s also assume that you are well trained and ready to start working at the mid to top level. We will also assume that you have appropriate equipment and that you have moved to a city with a strong music market. What’s next?

Number one: identify the players, which means who else is doing what you want to do? Who are they, what is their training/special skills. Who do they work with and for? Finding this information will take some time. Sources will include other musicians, trade publications and the media. Ask questions. You need to find out who the top tier of musicians are – who are the first call. Or in other words: the “A” team

Number two: identify the market – corporate events, clubs, concerts, private parties, touring? Who are the busiest musicians? Who are the most active booking agencies? What organizations/companies actively support musicians? Use the same sources as above. Plus, carefully read the local papers every day. You will find information about who played what club or party or wedding reception or big corporate benefit – very useful information.

Number three: self-analysis – how can you fit into this market? How do your skills compare? What additional skills do you have that might be useful? How hard are you willing to work? Remember (or maybe realize) that no one is going to call you for a gig just because you are a great player. The person they have been calling for the past five years is a also a great player. You must be dependable without habits that might make someone think twice about calling you. Self-analysis is sometimes difficult, so work hard at it and get a friend or two (that you can trust to tell you the truth) to help. Fix anything that you find needs fixing.

Number four: in the business world this step is usually called networking and it is very similar in the music business with one important difference. Networking in the music biz is more personal, just like performing is more personal than many business activities. Musicians hang with each other, jam, create new material. Depending on the individuals, breaking into the “music scene” can be simple or daunting. Either way, it must be done. The only way to get work is for other musicians to know that you are looking to work and (– and this is an important and) be responsible and ready for the work. Your resume is useless here, the telling moments will be when you sit in and perform with other musicians. So, plan to hang out at clubs so that you can talk to the musicians on their breaks, ask if they allow people to sit in. if they do – great! If they don’t ask them which bands do allow musicians to sit in. Ask for business cards and have professional cards to hand out. Start building a list of musicians that you meet and make a point of remembering them. Give them a boost by using social media (facebook, twitter etc) to post that you just heard so and so at such and such. You are promoting them and putting your name out there at the same time.

Number five: keep a journal of your activities. List the musicians that you meet. Organize the list any wat that works best for you – but organize the list, by instrument, by band etc. list the venues that you visit – list address, type of music. List everyone that you meet – friend them on facebook and follow them on twitter and any other social media that you use.

After a short time, you will have a list of top musicians who are “A” team players. Now, work at making them aware of you as a possible colleague. Hire them to play on your demo recording. Buy a couple hours of their time asking them what they think you need to do in order to break into the “A” team. There are many ways to network and make new friends, be creative and good luck.

Stay Tuned – day 1

Hi. Dave Hibbard here. This is the first post of many to come. I wanted to let you know that I am still adding content pages and once that is finished< I will begin posting on a regular basis