Can you imagine trying to have a conversation with someone who can’t hear you?

I was teaching a workshop the other day and was having a hard time hearing individuals when they asked questions. People were talking between themselves, or doodling on their instruments. I had to ask everyone to please listen, as whatever question was being asked was important to the person asking it as well as to me, and that we would all benefit from the answer I was to give.

It then occurred to me that this was yet another analogy about playing music: that we have to be able to hear what is being said (played) in a musical situation in order to be able to respond accordingly.

In a band, we must ask ourselves: can we hear everyone? Can we hear the singer, bass player, drummer, and/or other “strummers?” Do they need to “come up” (be louder) or do we need to “come down” (be quieter)? (Often, it is the latter of the two.)

If we can’t hear what is being said, how are we to know how to respond?

I am sure we’ve all experienced a conversational situation where someone doesn’t hear the actual question, and responds with something completely out of context. Sometimes it can be quite humorous, but most often it simply stops the conversation until everyone gets back on track.

Have you ever noticed  in a playing situation, where someone (or several people) don’t seem to be listening and playing with the rest of the group? Perhaps they are soloing and doodling around while someone is singing, or not ending with the rest of the group.

This is a perfect opportunity to ask them, “Can you hear everything? The bass? The other players? Should we move closer together? Do we need to be louder? Can you play a little softer?” Whatever it takes to bring it to the group’s attention.

Soon it will be second nature to you all to insist that you hear everything – all the time.

3 Responses to “Can you imagine trying to have a conversation with someone who can’t hear you?”

  1. keithmj Says:

    They were just being rude. It is sad that this happened and hopefully it won’t happen again. I would love to attend one of your sessions, I would enjoy listening to you. I am sure I would hear and learn a lot. Keep up the good work.

    • Rhan Wilson Says:

      Rude? Perhaps, a bit, but I understand to a degree. I was showing them rhythmic patterns and concepts about playing – and I do need to allow people to process by allowing time to discuss and try things out. On the other hand, sometimes people need to listen, and then listen some more, as I’ve often had people ask me questions about something I was just about to explain.

      So I ask them to listen, and as you say, it is polite to do so.

      The positive take-away was that I used that as an opportunity to explain how important listening is, both in conversational as well as musical situations.

      Thank you for your contribution to this discussion.

  2. Eileen Says:

    Its not only in music…..
    I find it impossible to listen to two people talking to me at the same time ! Usually a couple who have been married a long time and neither listens but they both sure do talk at the same time !
    “Single in Aptos…..”

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