Monday, May 23, 2016

Mindful Monday- Listening To Music

                        Mindful Monday- Listening

                     "Music is What Feelings Sound Like"
  This past week music has risen in my mindfulness experiences. Music is a constant in my life as I teach piano everyday. It is imperative that I listen carefully to understand what my students are trying to express and for me to diagnosis issues to improve their playing. Often I find myself listening with even more intention. An opera was on our week's activities. My husband is a fan of Amanda Forsythe who happened to be singing at the University. I listened so intently at the quality of their superb voices, at the french lyrics, and at the orchestral sounds coming from the pit. All of it was amazing and lovely, but I found my mind getting restless. Used to making up stories, my mind needed some help and so I turned to my meditation skills. Breathing was very helpful. Soon I could fully engage back into the music.
    Here are some ideas to make listening to music more enjoyable.

  1. Listen to music as foreground 
  2. Notice how music makes your body feel
  3. Listen to an entire album, instead of a playlist of many different types of music. 
  4. Be aware of dynamic changes and the emotions coming through the pieces.

  Below is a video of Emil Gilels playing Bach Prelude in B minor, arranged by Siloti in the 1800's. I am currently learning to play this piece. It requires intense listening. The second time through something magical happens. Gilels emphasizes the accented notes differently and an intensity comes through which makes my heart resonate to the emotions coming from the performer who is in such complete command of his instrument. 


     As I am playing this piece everyday I hear it in my mind as an ear worm. It colors my day. You could say it has become a soundtrack to the week. The tension and release of these phrases feel familiar to daily life. You might think this piece is melancholy but I find it affirming. It reassures me that discomfort is replaced with calm and in the end peace comes. The last chord is a major chord which sets all things right.
"Spiritual evolution is the automatic consequence of watching the mind..The reason for mindfulness is to bring one into the present moment and learn to stay there so that one can allow the Divine Presence to manifest itself through us in each moment. That presence is activated by our continual awareness and intention to let it be manifested in each action."
                                                           David R. Hawkins

May is a month to explore listening. You can read more about my Year of Mindfulness here.


  1. I think often we can see music as background noise rather than really focussing on it but there is something special about it when we give it our full attention. I really like the piece you're learning.

    1. Yes, full attention reaps so many rewards, different than having music on in the background.

  2. I have also been trying to listen, much more mindfully, to music and it's a game changer, isn't it?!

    I recently discovered how beautiful Aaron Copland's music is, and have added him to my Spotify selection, and have found that I'm so much happier when I have music on in the background.

    (I've also recently realised this was something that I *used* to do, and something that made me much more productive - some 'issues' surrounding music meant that I'd stopped listening but I'm so glad I've found music, so glad).

    I've always loved Emil Gilels (his Rachmaninov pieces never fail to move me deeply). The piece you link to is very beautiful. I hope you're enjoying learning it (nothing so mindful as playing an instrument, is there?).

    Hope you're having a lovely week.

    Helen xx

    1. Helen, I really find Appalachian Spring mind expanding. I really am enjoying the Bach Prelude.


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