Listening

Fall Session 2021

North Star Strings

Youth Philharmonic

Youth Symphony Orchestra

5 Things to Pay Attention to When Listening to Music

By listening for each of these five components of a piece of music, you can build up your active listening skills.

Instrumentation

As an active listener, see if you can identify every musical instrument on a recording. If you're hearing the music live, try to pick out the individual lines played by each musician.


Structure

In popular music, listen to the song form—verse, chorus, bridge, etc.—to study how the songwriter structures the tune. In classical music, try to identify formal structures, such as a fugue, a sonata form, or a dance style like a rondo or mazurka. Having a background in music theory will help immensely in this regard.


Style

Is the music you're hearing aligned with a particular musical genre? Do you hear elements of other genres as well?


Technique

Decide for yourself whether you like the way the instrumentalists and vocalists perform. You may love what you hear, or you may note imperfections.


Lyrics

Focus on imagery, figurative language, and rhyme scheme.


Ways to listen to a recording:

Active Listening:

  • Listen and follow along with the music in your part

  • Listen and silently play along with the recording

  • Listen and play along with the recording

Passive Listening

  • Have the music playing in the background while you complete another task

  • Listen to it while you are in the car