This is an endurance exercise suitable for when you want to improve your concentration and learn how to return to listening. Don’t skip this exercise even if you can’t focus exclusively on listening. Return to the works that you listened to three times in the same week.
1. Select a work that is about 45 minutes long. You may select this for instance from a playlist.
2. Select a work by a contemporary composer. Let go of your preconceptions and just go with the flow. Do you sense tensions and releases? Can you hear surfaces, colours, light and shadow? If listening feels too hard and you feel an impulse to stop, try to resist it five times before you actually stop. A good duration for this exercise is 15 minutes.
1. Adjust the volume so that it allows for great variations in volume. Note that in symphonic works the dynamic range is broad and that this is an important feature of the music. Avoid background noise, because that tempts you to turn up the volume too high. Remember to be careful about your ears, especially if you’re using earpods.
2. Write down the composers and their works that you’ve listened to. By doing this, you will compile a listening diary that you can return to.
3. A familiar work is often easier to listen to. Listen to a work several times to become familiar with it.
4. Feel your mood. Listening is easier on some days than others. Sometimes listening is best done when doing quiet chores, but at other times it’s a good idea to stop everything and just listen. Even if you can’t focus only on listening, listen anyway.