Listen, Learn, Love
Listening is something that we all like to do, right? On one hand I would say yes; I love to listen to music, podcasts, and read books. Many people feel a compulsive need to be constantly absorbing information, no matter what medium it is through. Social media allows us to listen to the opinions of our friends and people we hardly know as they discuss almost anything. However, I would argue that our culture as a whole is actually really bad at listening. Social media often turns into a platform for us to boldly proclaim whatever we want, then argue with anyone who would dare contest our viewpoint (the best part is, if things get really out of hand, we can just block them completely). Surely the 2016 Presidential election was one marked by understanding and empathy. Just check out almost any political debate and you’re sure to see an abundance of patient, kind listening, right? Listening well is incredibly valuable, and yet our culture has much room to grow in this area.
As important as I know listening is, I’ve found that through my time as a music student I’ve had its importance pressed into me countless times. I remember my early days of trumpet lessons when my first teacher would show me stacks of 20-30 CD's that he’d checked out at the library that week, only to listen to them, return them, and check out more for the next week. He was always impressing the importance of listening upon me because that’s how we learn to play different styles and speak different musical languages. Through diligent listening, playing along with recordings, and imitating them I gradually began to learn to play jazz, classical, orchestral, and many other styles of music. Even as a teacher of budding middle school musicians, my hope is that they’ll learn to listen deeper to their playing in order to improve their skills.
We can listen well to others through reading books, enjoying music and podcasts, and watching movies. Listening through these mediums is unique because we can easily hear from many diverse people about pretty much any topic imaginable. We can also enter totally new worlds through stories (admittedly, I’ve read very little fiction, but I’m w