Shared listening creates a sound haven that awakens compassion for ourselves and others.
Just Listening aims to reveal the joy of encountering music of any kind as a path to spiritual awareness. Paying special attention to energy and “not knowing”, the workshop focuses on drawing out understanding of unfamiliar or difficult music by allowing participants simply to pay attention to what is heard. Through a progression of meditative listenings, and engaging with what has been heard, we gradually build an organic sense of the whole, its flow of energy, and its emotional impact. Through this process, we break down preconceptions and the limitations they impose on listeners, creating a helpful crack in the wall of prejudice that such mental formations produce.
The central workshop that is the heart of Just Listening lasts an hour. With minimal introduction, we launch into a listening and commenting process which gradually reveals deep insight into a piece of modern music. By exploring something that many hold fears about, especially fears of not knowing enough to do what we do, participants awaken to the value of hearing what is heard, and to using the vast experience they do have in listening to music to unravel mysteries and come to realizations about the music on a par with or exceeding the insight that those with years of training might find. For those with significant training, it is the nature of the workshop to allow the training to work less consciously, more holistically and realistically, and illuminate the music in ways that are unexpectedly simple and deep.
Witnessing and participating in the blooming of comprehension in a group in this way builds a musical community, a sound haven that has promise in a number of ways. The process of the workshop builds a little community on the spot, as people hear their comments resonate with other people's. On finding that something they once thought was beyond their grasp, participants are empowered to to the same with other music, opening the circle potentially very wide. And if the music explored happens to come from a group one has dismissed or resented, a meaningful move is made toward releasing destructive judgments about that group.
In the first half of 2018, John will produce versions of the workshop as described below.
February 3, 1:30 pm
Young Composers Festival
Community Music Center of Boston
33 Warren Street
February 22, 7:00 pm
Food for Thought Series
Follen Community Church - Unitarian Universalist
March 9-10 (specific date and time TBA)
Contemplative Practices for 21st Century Higher Education
5th Annual Conference
Chapel Hill, NC