Stop - and really listen to a song todayMusic matters.

If you’re visiting this site, you probably don’t need to be convinced of that! But how often do we give music the attention it deserves?

Today, find a moment and choose a song.

Close your eyes.

And just… listen.

Whether you’re a musician or music-fan, music is undoubtedly around you for a large part of every day.

How much of it do you really hear?

When you play that piano sonata for the 57th time this week, do you hear the music – or do you just hear the mistakes made and the room for improvement? Deliberate practice is wonderful for improving your skills – but rarely musical.

When you hear your favourite song on the radio or on your iPod, do you really listen to it – or do you just hear the top layer of sound? The melody, the lyrics, the driving beat… And your mind wanders to whatever it is inside you that made this song a favourite. The song is barely heard at all because you know it so well.

Or do you?

Active listening is a core part of musicianship training and aural skills development, but even more importantly it increases your potential to enjoy music. Partly this comes from developing your ability to hear detail in songs, but equally importantly it develops the habit and the mindset of truly listening to music instead of just hearing it.

So, choose a track.

Choose a song you know, or a song you don’t. That song that’s been on your “to listen” playlist for weeks now. The song that just came on the radio and caught your ear.

Take a few minutes.

It won’t take long, but you’ll experience more in these few minutes than the countless minutes of unfocused attention before them.

Put on headphones or turn up your speakers.

They each have their advantages. The key thing is have privacy from interruption and clarity of sound.

Turn up the volume.

Find a level that lets the sound encompass your senses.

But don’t damage your hearing!

And let the thoughts of the day disappear for a moment.

Let the song be all that you pay attention to.

Allow your attention to wander through the sound.

Try to listen in to different instruments, different timbres, different textures in the sound.

Listen out for a melody or harmony line and follow it until it disappears again.

Feel the rhythm and how it intertwines with the other elements of the song.

Breathe slowly.

Hear more.

And savour the sound.