Engage the Listener

I have a saying, “Nobody has to listen to you while you’re performing. You have to make them listen to you!!” The question is how do you go about doing this.

Music is a universal force that communicates to all people. It’s the layman that you want to “move” with your music/performance. Trying to “impress” other musicians only narrows your market down to “the ivory tower” of musician/academic listeners.

What does “the layman listener” notice first? From my experiences, the first thing noticed is the sound. Is it pleasing to listen to? Does it feel good to hear? The next thing noticed is the time. Does the ensemble groove? Does the listener have the “uncontrollable urge” to “tap their toes” or “nod their head” in time to the music? Just this basic response defines itself as literally moving the listener! Finally the note choices are given attention when the sound is pleasing and the time is grooving. The intellectual side of the music is noticed once the visceral side is established.

The difference between a great player and a mediocre player is their depth of sound and relationship to the groove. As far as the note choices we are all operating within the same 12-note matrix. In this day and age, all that “note-choice technology” is available all over the internet. What’s powerful is the musician’s ability to engage/move the listener in a storytelling journey that unfolds in new ways on a moment-to-moment basis!!

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