Pat Mastelotto on Listening

WRITTEN August 15, 2019 Author: Rich Atkins

Listening requires concentration. 

Focus allows the brain to process the meaning of the words. So listening is a two-part process, Hearing is only the first step in listening. Then, it is understanding, perhaps following with empathy and appropriate words or actions in response.

Here’s what one expert says about listening …

As a rock musician, I don’t read music. I play by intuition. That is, I listen and react. That’s why I play better when I listen. I can tune in better on the other musicians on stage with me. The more detail I can listen to, the better my response.  

Pat Mastelotto is a drummer who has worked with Mr. Mister, King Crimson, and Stick Men, among others.

Listening is when I actually hear what I am hearing. Lots of sound goes through my ears, but not all of it resonates. You can listen and not hear. You can also hear without listening.

The main roadblock is distractions, distractions, distractions – outside, inside, onstage, in the studio – loads of distractions. When the music has really got me, then I get this buzz, and get sucked down the rabbit hole. It’s tunnel vision—micro-listening for pitch and time. That’s part of how we focus on listening. We used to call it our “studio ears”. When bands would come back from the road and start doing recording sessions again, they would begin “listening under the microscope” as we used to call it. 

To do this well, just shut up and listen. Spend time in silence, or nature, or music. When playing, try to make space. Sometimes the greatest contribution a musician can make is silence. Great power lies in the space between the notes.As I grow in experience, listening becomes more of a vibe, an experienced intuition. In some ways, it makes me zero in more on the emotions that audio can induce. There are so many ways to listen beside with just hearing. 

Listen for a connection – sort of like those books about relationships that keep reminding us, we’re all in relationships with other humans, and we all need to listen more.

This information is discussed in our Customer Service training as well as in our Leadership training curriculum. If you’re looking for ways to improve your communication skills, register for one of our public classes.
Photo by Ryan Chahanovich found on

If you enjoyed reading about “Pat Mastelotto on Listening” please take a moment to click through our other musician interviews on the subject:

Guitarist Steve Morse on Listening – IC Interview

Kasim Sulton: 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

How Listening to Others Can Make You a Better Person

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