Listening is king, for both music and language

A lot of the students that I have taught in Hong Kong have relatively strong reading and writing skills, but weak listening and speaking skills. The excellent article below summarises why this is the case:

Fluent in 3 months: sound rehab

(I personally think the most important is the part about ‘limited mental capacity’.)

The same goes for musicians, I think – reading sheet music is a fine and useful skill, but it takes a lot of mental capacity to do, and tends to detract from giving a musical performance. I improved my flute playing substantially by making more of an effort to memorise pieces and by listening back to recordings of myself. I can also now ‘play by ear’ a lot better than before, which is helpful for when there are no transcriptions available for a piece one might like to play or arrange. (A lot of the MIDIs available for various games also include both harmonic and melodic errors, and it’s important to be able to sort these problems out.)

What do you think?

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