Listening with a Big Ear
I’ve been listening my whole life. As a young girl, I loved when elders visited. After helping mom present refreshments, I would curl up on the couch beside them. I learned then to be quiet as a mouse, disappear in the cracks of the sofa, so as not to miss a thing. If they didn’t know I was there, the best adult parts of conversations would be spoken ~ and they were.
Nature sounds are incredible and I love traveling to hear them. Other countries and cultures bring varying tongues and expression. My ears delight! Once, I purposely arrived at St Peters Cathedral in Rome for 8 am masses. I moved from chapel to chapel, delighting in prayers lifted to heaven in so many languages!
For many years I worked as a licensed music therapist, mostly in psychiatric care. That taught me so adeptly to listen ever more closely below the surface of sounds being expressed, how they were expressed, or what was not being expressed.
In Nature, I listen for this too. The animals and insects will tell you the state of affairs. Even trees, rocks - I adore caves for this reason - will vibrate with a knowingness that’s palpable. You have to listen very carefully, get very quiet to hear.
Silence and quiet are imperative for me also, so as to hear my inner music. Not only literal music I want to learn, write, or share, but the essence of things, my own conscience. Free improvisation really evokes this for me. What do I hear now? Feel now? Know now? Am I asking, calling, pleading? My personal retreats - my own artist residencies - are just this. What’s percolating now? Shaking off the outer noise, what can I hear inside? What needs sounding? What do I generate and what is being offered to me?
Music would be nothing without the rests, the pauses. We need time to assimilate. Compare and contrast. As in music, so in life, at least for me. I need pauses and silences. I’ve grown to absolutely crave them. In a world so often full of noise, I try to choose purposefully what I sing. No need to take up more sonic space. Having performed quite a bit these last few years, I found myself wanting to not only rest and retreat, but dig deeper into myself and my music.
Declaring this year MY YEAR OF LISTENING, I am venturing to listen to a wide array of things. I’ll still be performing but I’ll be listening too.
New music, new ways of listening, and the inner listening…
Hope you’ll glean something from my reflections.
Hope you’ll join me on this journey ~ VA
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