Did You Hear That?
By D. M. Flynn
You probably have a favorite singer or musical group. Some musicians learn to sing. Others learn to play one or more instruments.
Still other musicians learn to conduct an orchestra or a chorus. But all musicians must learn one important skill: how to listen.
Hearing or Listening?
Musicians know that there is a difference between hearing and listening. We may hear music playing in the grocery store. But if we are thinking about something else, we may not listen to the music.
Of course, we can overlook some noises, such as the hum of the refrigerator. But hearing without listening can become a habit.
Here is an activity to try alone or with your family. If you try this alone, ask your family for permission before you start.
Directions, Part 1
You will need a timer or a watch, one sheet of paper, and a pencil.
- Set a timer for two minutes, or ask someone to watch the time for you.
- For two minutes, make as much noise as you can. You can clap your hands, stomp your feet, and shout. But you cannot sing or play a musical instrument. You want to make noise not music.
- When time is up, write “noise” at the top of a sheet of paper. Then list every sound you heard while you were making noise. Save your list.
Directions, Part 2
For the next part of this activity, go outside or sit near an open window. You will need a timer or a watch, another sheet of paper, and a pencil.
- Set a timer for two minutes, or ask someone to watch the time for you. For two minutes, be as quiet as you can. Sit still—no wiggling or giggling.
- Listen to the sounds around you.
- When time is up, write “sounds” at the top of a sheet of paper. Then list every sound you heard while you were sitting quietly.
Directions, Part 3
Now look at your two lists.
- Which list is longer?
- Which list had the more pleasant sounds?
- Was it easier to make noise or to listen?
- Was it more comfortable to make noise or to listen?
- Did you hear any sounds that you have missed before?
Turn off the TV, radio, computer, and other devices. Try listening in different places.
You might start by listening to the sounds of God’s creation. Can you hear:
- The song of different birds?
- The whisper of the wind?
- The rumble of distant thunder?
Try listening carefully when a family member or friend talks with you. Pay attention not only to the words, but also to the sound of the person’s voice.
Musicians know the value of learning to listen. Now you know that listening is a key skill for everyone to learn.
© D. M. Flynn
D. M. Flynn is a classical musician and a freelance writer who served for over twenty years as a liturgist, church musician, and music educator.