Listening: One Cohesive Unit (Rod Morgenstein)

WRITTEN December 21, 2017 Author: Rich Atkins
NOTE: As you read, apply Rod Morgenstein’s message of listening to your profession by substituting the discussion of “music” with “work,” and terms related to “musician” with “colleague.”

Listening is the practice of being in the moment, in touch with my surroundings, and fully aware that I am part of a creative process that involves not just myself, but a group of musicians.

Music involves the actions and interaction of musicians. 

Some music involves playing exact parts with no improvisation at all. Other styles, such as rock, jazz, or Latin, are based on varying levels of improvisation. In every case, listening is of paramount importance in order to keep the band or orchestra sounding like one cohesive unit. In improvisational settings, reacting to things happening in the moment requires the mind to be centered on every member of that group.

Distraction is the greatest obstacle to listening. 

There are any number of things that can cause these roadblocks – a malfunctioning piece of equipment, difficulty hearing the other musicians, the stage setup, or the greatest of them all – the mind, which houses the various stresses of life that, at times, seem to swirl around in endless circles. In all of these situations, I remind myself that drumming is one of my greatest life’s pleasures and treasures. Since most of these issues cannot be solved at the moment, I try to focus on creating music.

Rod Morgenstein says that to listen, or to become a better listener, remember that OTHERS depend on us.

It’s a good idea not to get too wrapped up in our individual performance. It’s extremely important to realize that each of us is just one part of a larger picture.

Rod Morgenstein

The main thing with listening is to realize that each musician is an integral part of the music.

As a drummer, I lock in with the bass player first, [A company’s mission, vision, values, and goals.] as these are the core instruments creating the foundation – the groove and feel of a song.

Then I move on to the instruments that create the harmonic and melodic considerations of the music.[In business, the necessary areas of support; eg. finance, PR, Human Resources, etc.]

Understanding the function of each instrument, [In business the division, group, or individual.] and tuning into those different elements by listening, will enrich the result of our work.

The above is from a 2013 interview with Rod Morgenstein. The focus of the interview was on listening skills.

This information is discussed in our Customer Service class curriculum. If you’re looking for ways to improve your communication skills, register for one of our public classes.

Other Resources:

Guitarist Steve Morse on Listening – IC Interview

Kasim Sultan: One Word – Focus – IC Interview

Arnold McCuller – Listening for the Spirit – IC Interview

Jordan Rudess — Listening with Focus – IC Interview

Musician Carl Palmer on Listening – IC Interview

Nick Beggs — Listening means Understanding Relationships – IC Interview

Simon Phillips — Listening Outside Yourself – IC Interview

Pat Mastelotto— Listening Requires Concentration – IC Interview

How Listening to Others Can Make You a Better Person

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