A fun way for you or your kids to work on this musical skill outside of formal practice time is to crank up that radio in the car or put on that sound system at home and perk up those ears with a listening challenge. By the way, parents, this is a super way to engage your kids in musical thinking between lessons or during the summer and they’ll have no idea they’re working on their skills!
Here are some initial things to listen for:
Mood/key: For beginning learners, you can ask what mood the song feels like. Happy? Sad? Agitated? For more advanced, can you tell if the key is a major key (happy) or a minor key (sad)? Does the key change during the song?
The beat: For beginners, can you find the pulse or beat? Can you tap it along with the song? Advanced – what is the time signature? 3/4? 4/4? 7/8? Does it change during the song?
Tempo: Is it fast or slow? Does the tempo stay consistent throughout the song?
Instrumentation: What different instruments can you hear in the song? Is there a solo part where a particular instrument shines? What instrument is it? Are the sounds you hear real instruments or electronic?
Song structure: Can you tell what parts of the songs you’re hearing? The intro? Verse? Chorus? Bridge? Outro?
With active listening – even with pop or rock songs on the radio – musical learners can start to move from just hearing to really listening and identifying what they hear. So turn up the stereo and engage your ears!