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Listening

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Feb. 17th, 2006 | 12:09 pm
mood: happyhappy
music: Franz Ferdinand

Taken from the book "Strategic Listening", by Fran Peavey. Read it online here, or contact Crabgrass, 3181 Mission St #30, San Francisco CA 94110, crabgrass@igc.org)

The book quotes a quote from her friend Karen Hagberg, a musician:

"Without careful listening, a pianist cannot understand the various ways a single note can be played. It seems impossible that we do not listen to ourselves, what else is there to do while we are practicing? What else are we doing? There are many things, actually, that I am able to do instead of listening. I can hear an imaginary pianist, Horowitz for example, and imagine his sound as mine. I can feel the music instead of listening to it and move around a lot as I play, imagining that my feelings must be coming out as sound. Possibly I am daydreaming, half-asleep, not concentrating. Usually, though, I am merely thinking about something. Thinking is not listening, nor is judging the performance as it evolves. Listening is listening."

Edit: What do I see in this quote? I see the huge loss there is in playing piano while not really listening. I also see how much I impair my ability to learn by not "listening" to what I am actually doing. How quickly could we learn if we put our full attention onto listening to what we were doing, instead of worrying about how incompetent we are, or thinking about lunch? We could learn ten times, or a hundred times as fast as we are expected to in this society.

It's no wonder that some people can learn ten languages while others struggle to learn one. And that some people can hit a golf ball to within metres of the hole while others can barely hit the ball at all, no matter how long they practice. I think that listening, not just aurally but to every part of your body in whatever you are doing, is key to improving. With the ability to listen to ourselves, we can break all our known limitations on what we are capable of.

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