Active Music Listening: it’s not just a good time, it’s good for the mind

Active Music Listening: it’s not just a good time, it’s good for the mind

It might sound a little ironic, but an often overlooked aspect of becoming a better musician, singer, and dancer is actively listening to music. Simply put,  active music listening in a focused, engaged way. This is an easy, fun way to learn more about music. And it has some surprising benefits!


Active Music Listening is Fun and Easy

When you and your child listen actively to music together, first it’s good to find something you both enjoy listening to. Try to focus on specific aspects of the music with each listen. This can mean interpreting pitch variations, or different timbres or instruments. If you’re listening to an instrumental piece, encourage your child to focus on how it makes them feel. They can even add a story to it. The more engaged they are, the better!

Strengthening Brain Connections

So how does this help your child (and yourself!) to become a better musician (and more)?Well, think of the brain as containing lots of different computers sharing a network. One computer holds different rhythms, another musical notes, another song lyrics. Another holds hold muscle memory – and others, memories of specifics people, places, and events. When actively listening to music, it strengthens the connections between the computers on the network. Stronger connections means faster information recall, faster reactions, and a better ability to anticipate things based on patterns – which is pretty important for musicians, singers, and dancers!

For example, when we ask our brains to focus on distinguishing a certain rhythm with a certain kind of dance. When we do this, we’re strengthening the connections that we’ll use in the future to integrate new learning, and make better and faster musical decisions. And by thinking about the music critically and analytically, for example by associating a certain piece with a certain memory and emotion, active music listening strengthens our critical thinking skills and our emotional intelligence.

(Actively) Listen to Music as Much as Possible!

Here at Myriad, we encourage you and your family to listen to music as often as possible. Along with the learning benefits, it helps foster a love of music in children . And it’s also just a great way to spend time together. Or alone! Seriously, whether it’s young musicians or singers just learning the basics, more advanced musicians receiving private lessons, dancers of any level, or adults enjoying a ukulele jam session together – everyone benefits from active music listening. And everyone enjoys it, too!