Our mission is to turn students into enthusiastic and engaged listeners by highlighting qualities in music to listen for. There is a vast difference between listening and hearing. As a culture, we have developed a habit of passive hearing, often multi-tasking our music intake with daily activities. Yet, the real benefits of classical music come when one is truly listening to it with undivided attention. Besides increasing patience, attention span, and concentration, engaged listening triggers thoughts, emotions, connections, compassion, and aesthetic sensibility. “’Art and literature draw us out, hook us up (imaginatively, emotionally, neurally) into other circuits, other lives, other times.’ These experiences give us new references that enable us to become more receptive to unfamiliar people, attitudes, and cultures.” – Gifts of the Muse (pg. 47)
All of our lessons our designed, regardless of the subject matter, to help students tap into the deep rewards of listening with involvement. We accomplish this in three ways; by fostering connections between music and familiar concepts in order to give students a comfortable point of entry into the music; by creating a relaxed and inclusive learning environment; and by presenting captivating musical performances. Our workshops are meant to be equally accessible to both a classical music novice and an advanced musician.
The links between music, personal introspection and heightened sensitivity have broad social ramifications. Studies have shown that involvement in the arts enhances one’s awareness of the commonality of the human experience, promoting tolerance and camaraderie. “[The effects of the arts] are instrumental in that they can create the fabric of shared values and meanings that improves the public sphere.” –Gifts of the Muse (pg. 52) Redeeming these long-term benefits, however, starts by shifting the ear’s focus from hearing to listening. Our goal is to give students the tools they need to become engaged listeners so that they might then have an emotional response to the music. We hope that by exposing students to the expressive power of music, they will become compassionate adults and productive members of society.