It's "Musicianship Monthly" time, and what better way to kick off the new year than by working on an important musicianship skill?
What is "Musicianship Monthly?" Each month, I share links to free resources you can use to focus on a specific musicianship skill with your students all month long! Want to see past skills we have covered? Click HERE!
In this month's edition of "Musicianship Monthly," we will be working on active listening skills! Keep reading to learn more....
Most of the listening our students do is passive listening: for example, listening to music while studying or doing homework. Active listening is different in that students are encouraged to focus on specific musical elements such as form, tempo, and dynamics while listening.
How do you develop active listening skills?
Like any skill, active listening gets easier with practice! Here are a few tips to help students become more comfortable with the process of active listening:
- Start with short, descriptive pieces that engage the imagination. A few of my favorite classical pieces to use for active listening practice include selections from "Carnival of the Animals" (Saint-Saens), "Peer Gynt Suite" (Grieg), "The Four Seasons" (Vivaldi), and "The Nutcracker" (Tchaikovsky).
- Give students a few specific questions to think about before listening to a piece. The basic active listening worksheet below has some good examples of questions you might ask.
- Encourage students to listen to the piece more than once. The more familiar students are with the music, the easier it becomes for them to follow and focus on details when listening. You may even find it helpful to have students listen to the same piece of music in their lessons each week for several weeks in a row, focusing on different elements each time (story-telling the first week, dynamics and tempo the second week, and form the third week, for example).
- For students that have trouble focusing, try using a listening map. A few of my favorite listening maps, and why they are helpful, are listed below!
Ready to do some active listening? Here are some fun activities to get you started!
1. Listening Maps
There are many wonderful examples of kid-friendly listening map videos on YouTube. These are really helpful for students that need a visual component to help them to better focus on and follow a piece of music while listening.
These listening maps include imagery such as the instruments being played in the piece; a visual representation of the pitch, tempo, or dynamics in the music; snippets of music notation showing specific motives being played; or images that relate to the story-telling elements found in the music.
Here are a few of my favorite listening map videos:
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I've blogged before about the wonderful activity sheets available on the Classics for Kids website.
Each activity sheet contains information about a well-known classical composer and an activity involving one of the composer's most famous works. Activities include puzzles, word games, drawing and coloring prompts, active listening questions, and more.
Click HERE to see the complete list of free activity sheets, organized by composer!
3. Basic Active Listening Worksheet
Finally, here is a general active listening worksheet that asks students a series of questions about the music they are listening to.
This worksheet can be used with any piece that you wish to encourage students to listen for specific elements in the music.
Click HERE or on the image to get your free copy!