Lessons in Listening- LInL

Two of my colleagues from the Oregon East Symphony, principal trumpet James Smock and co-principal horn Rebekah Schaub have recently started what I think is a very interesting venture, offering private lessons in listening to music, called, appropriately enough, Lessons in Listening. You can read about it on their websites here and here. 

As soon as I heard what they were planning, I was fascinated. James and Rebekah are both very busy and accomplished performers, and are both unusually perceptive and inquisitive students of music. They’re also much in demand as private instructors on their instruments. Why are they doing this? What do they have in mind? 

What really fascinates me, however is the idea of building passionate listeners one person at a time. Maybe this is the truth of our situation- that there are no short cuts to a more vibrant culture. Perhaps we need to foster a more intimate and personal connection with active and prospective listeners?

In fact, recent research shows that there are many, many more people who listen to and enjoy classical music than our current economic challenges reflect. Our challenge is to no only to help people who don’t know classical music to like it, but, in my opinion, it is more important that we help those who like it to actively and passionately love it. These days almost all of our effort goes into trying to attract the attention of the completely disinterested, why not also try to enchant the curious? 

I’ve seen a number of listeners make this transition over the years, and often it is something that happens when they do develop a more intimate understanding of what they’re hearing. Increasingly at festivals like Aspen, masterclasses are attended by more punters than players. I interviewed Rebekah and James about their hopes and plans for LInL. Their thoughts follow in the next post.

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at www.kennethwoods.net

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