Listen, Understand, ActThe #ideachat conversation inspired within me many thoughts on using music for a creative process. Many of my thoughts have been on different ways of listening.

Passive listening is what I observe most used by people. You turn on music to set a mood, to mask other sounds, or to keep you company while you do things. This can be a great way to support creative processes. It can also be used as a way to frame a period of time for being creative. Example: I’ll paint while this playlist is on.

Active listening is hopefully what occurs when you attend performances – people are listening not doing other things. People are attending to the performer(s) and the sound created. Listening to recorded music can also be active but doesn’t involve watching a performer. Your thoughts are related to what you are hearing. The creativity is what happens after the active listening and is inspired by the experience.

But, I think there is another type of listening that falls someplace between passive and active listening. The listener actively attends to the music but the music guides a creative response. These responses might include moving to the music; drawing the images that come to mind in direct response to the listening; creating counter melodies or rhythms that spring forth during the process. For this reason it could be called creative listening. During this process, neither the music being heard nor the creation being made is judged.

For myself, I find I use all three types of listening for creative support at various points in my personal and professional life. I passively listen sometimes when writing or when filing papers. Some posts and session plans are directly related to my active listening. Creative listening is something I use to explore aspects of myself. I also find creative listening showing up when I lead drum circles and some sessions.

Which forms of listening have you used to spur creativity? Which is most effective for you? Please share your response in the comments below.

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