Listening as an Event

Welcome to "Listening as an Event"!  

How many people today listen to music? Probably almost everyone. How many people today listen to art music as an event -- just pure, unadulterated listening? Many people listen to music while doing other things like working out, cleaning, studying, eating; however, listening to art music, whether live or recorded, as an end in and of itself, (without doing anything else!) is much more limited. 

As musicians and music educators, we know the instrinsic value of art music to the individual and society. And, importantly, we have a prodigious opportunity to foster the love of art music to future generations by teaching the art of listening as an event.

This blog will feature various avenues of engaging students of all ages in relevant listening experiences that can be succinctly added to any lesson's weekly home assignment. Share the love of art music and build the skills of listening with your students and their families.

To jump start listening experiences in your studio, you can begin with a short Youtube video by renown conductor and world-class pianist, Daniel Barenboim. In his  video, "How to Listen to Music", Barenboim describes the importance of 'classical' (art music) to society and culture. He addresses some challenges to the lost art of engaged listening, while initiating thought on the subject. The video is a great antecedent for discussion on the topic of engaged listening, both practicallly and philosophically, with students in the music studio.



Great blog! Thank you!

Engaged Listening Activity for the Late Elementary Student

William Tell Overture by Gioachino Rossini


       This piece comes from an opera composed by Rossini, a very famous opera composer from the Romantic Era. Rossini wrote 39 operas! William Tell, written in 1829, was Rossini’s last opera. The excerpt you will hear is the finale from the overture played by the Milwaukee Symphony. An overture is a piece of music that introduces all the music that will be heard within the opera – like a trailer to a movie. The piece is fast, exciting, and full of energy. It features the full orchestra, showcasing especially the brass and string family.

            First, watch the video and listen to the music. Get a feel for the role each instrument family plays in the character of the piece. Then, lay back, close your eyes, and listen again. Allow your imagination to ignite!  What do you see in your mind’s eye?  What do you think this piece is about? What do you picture?

Take Action:

Pick a project/activity:

  • Make a list of the many movies, cartoons, and events that the William Tell Overture has been used in. Use Google!
  • Listen to Franz Liszt’s (a prominent Romantic Era composer and one of the best virtuosic pianists of all time) transcription of the William Tell Overture for piano at: . The transcription is for the full overture. At what time does the finale begin?  ______________
  • Draw a detailed picture of one or more of the orchestral instrument(s) you think would be the most fun to play in this piece.
  • Make a timed-cuing listening guide for this excerpt. Share it with a family member or friend. Be sure to ask questions and see if they can hear the answers!
  • Draw a scene that depicts one of the images the music created in your imagination.
  • Research the opera, William Tell, and describe what it was about. What scene the finale is played in.