Musical Timing & The Importance of LISTENING

in music •  2 years ago 

Hearing vs Listening

On the surface hearing and listening can seem at first to be the exact same thing, but one can hear a conversation taking place, or a song being played over an in-house audio system and not necessarily be listening to either one.

Where playing music is concerned it is extremely important to not just hear what is being played but to listen intently, and this applies whether one is going it alone, playing in a duet, or playing in a larger group setting.

For example, in music each chord progression or arpeggiated phrase/riff is played a certain number of times and then it either goes in a new direction, or it may return back to the original pattern that took place at the beginning of the song/piece of music, which is up to the discretion of whoever wrote the song/music.

Be sure that as you are working towards improving your technical skill that you don’t neglect working to gain proficiency at listening to what you or someone else is playing, which incorporates aspects of basic counting and ear training. If one has never received instruction with regards to basic counting and ear training, it is never too late to add these abilities to your skill set.

So, how do I go about doing this? You might ask. During your lessons, a teacher can play one note or chord at a time slowly enough for you to be able to catch on to the particular pattern being played and gradually move forward into chord progressions and phrases/riffs. During personal practice time, you can record yourself playing one note or chord at a time. With today's tech toys you could easily find one of the many apps on your smartphone useful for this exercise, and as you gain proficiency you can either add more notes or chords or start trying to play some patterns that either you or your teacher has come up with. Listen carefully. Are you imitating what you are hearing perfectly?

And what about counting? Counting and timing go hand in hand. All music has a time signature and if you are playing in a band or orchestra you best get this right. I offer ways to practice this in the video below, but why is this so important? Well simply because it trains the brain.

Brain Function And Musical Timing

There are several methods that I recommend to students that will help them to develop a solid foundation where musical timing is concerned. It might come as a little bit of a surprise to learn that three functions are potentially at play here or at least they should be.

  1. Seeing the movement that is taking place,
  2. Hearing the tick of the metronome, your foot tapping or notes and chords being played,
  3. Sensing/feeling the timing.
The ultimate goal of being able to sense/feel the timing is something that doesn’t happen right away but with a lot of practice, it eventually will. Here is my recommendation of exercises that you should do along with the metronome which will help in the development of good timing:

  • Tap your right and left foot,
  • Pat your right and left thigh,
  • Clap your hands.
  • Vocalize the count,
  • Snap your fingers on both hands, but only if you can do so in time with the metronome.
So, why do I recommend that you do these exercises on the right and left side? Here is some scientific data that will hopefully help to make my point, because whether we realize it or not as guitar players we are using both the right and left hemispheres of our brains:

Left-Brain Functions:

Analytic thought
Science and Math
Writing Practice
Numbers Skills
Right-hand Control

Right-Brain Functions:

Art Awareness
Holistic Thought
Music Awareness
3-D Forms
Left-hand Control

So as you can see the right side of the brain is responsible for control of the left side of the body, and is the more artistic and creative side of the brain, whereas the left side of the brain is responsible for control of the right side of the body, and is the more academic and logical side of the brain.

In conclusion, it is important as a musician to train both. There needs to be an equality of movement that happens as naturally as you breathe. This developed instinct only comes with practice and time.

So, keep LISTENING and make the necessary adjustments. Practice makes perfect!

Here is a video lesson to help you on your way ... "Time Keeping Made Fun "


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Hi @wgl, I just stopped back to let you know your post was one of my favourite reads and I included it in my Steemit Ramble. You can read what I wrote about your post here.

Thank you so much for responding to my post and promoting it on your blog. I had a good giggle when you described the dilemma you had with your mum and you make a very good point about listening instead of merely hearing not only in music but in everyday situations.


I will support you, God bless you, I learn chinese, so if I made some mistakes, then I apologize and keep it
thank you very much

No problem and thank you for the support!

There's no scientific evidence supporting the right and left brain theory.our brain is a network of neurons working all together to achieve certain tasks such as listening, hearning , talking .. and each group form a region controlling a specific action.however the more you practice something , the more you will be good at it and that's brain plasticity. The given tips are actually very helpful . i really enjoyed your post !

Interesting, I heard that Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor who wrote "Stroke of Insight" was able to accurately detect which part of her brain was having a stroke, while having that stroke (I haven't actually read the book thought..) I've heard that the left brain primarily operates in "known" territory while the right operates in "unknown". Granted I'm not a scientist, I still have heard some authorities on the subject determine there is differentiation.

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

Thank you both for your input.

Spot-on regarding the the three functions! I would say you have to start with the basic counting of the rhythm, (2) which leads to a greater understanding of musical form and function(1). (3) is both learned and natural, as well as the most mysterious! Some people just have a natural inclination where others it takes lots of development - but you're absolutely correct: it can be developed!

Wow music nice
hopefully many who ngevoted you .. follow me maybe we can be friends well

Congratulations @wgl!
Your post was mentioned in the hit parade in the following category:

  • Pending payout - Ranked 1 with $ 105,05

Awesome! Thank you and I apologize for the delayed response.

Thanks a lot for this post and thanks to @shadowpub for introducing you. I have a guitar and played a little years ago. I have been trying to find time to practice again. Your post is very inspirational. Grateful....followed, upvoted and resteemed.

Thank you! I encourage you to keep it up however busy your schedule...even just 15 minutes here or there. All the best with your efforts.

You're right, I need to make the time, use my time more wisely, more efficiently. Thanks for the encouragement.

Thank you very much for the new lessons that you've shared us @wgl

Your great post will be nominated for my blog's latest issue. Keep it up!

Thank you so much!!

fact: teaching your kids music improves their critical thinking skills

Well said! Thank you for your input.

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awesome post