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How To Develop An Effective Listening Strategy In 30 Days Or Less

Updated: Jul 30, 2021


The views of the author that are expressed within this blog are based on personal musical experience. As a bonus, I have included a transcript from a radio show that I used to host. The show was entitled Keep On Keepin’ On.

The show itself was a jazz radio show surrounded by a potpourri of social and educational topics. This particular show focused on listening habits and how they contribute to a professional musician’s artistic development--more specifically focused on a way to develop one’s voice. Although the show was geared more toward musicians, non-musicians can glean just as much knowledge.

I would like to get your thoughts on this topic. Please feel free to comment below I am interested to know what you think!

Why are listening habits important?

As we grow, we begin to form an identity. Part of that identity is the music that you consume. The music that you consume at some point may have an effect on your outward appearance in the clothes you wear, the people you associate with, and so forth (generally speaking).

How does this affect your world?

It helps to create a community.

Everybody wants to be part of something. Music is a universal language and as such it works well as a social lubricant. With this social lubricant, all sorts of conversations can be enjoyed.

Best times to listen to music

When are the best times to listen to music. Well, this depends on the person. Some people use music to cook, clean, workout, study etc.

Short answer….there is no best time.

If there is no best time, how does one develop an effective listening habit in a month?


First, you’ll want to figure out the times you’re likely to listen to music. This could be the morning, after work, or in the evening before you go to bed. The choice is yours!

Then you’ll want to set a music goal for yourself (ie, I want to become more familiar with pop music). What is great about musical goals is that you do not have to necessarily be a musician to have them.

Next, research artists within that genre of music. I would suggest a sandbox approach. Let your curiosity run wild here.

Once you’ve settled on an artist, find their catalogue, set a timer.

Lastly…..LISTEN TO THE MUSIC! (my favorite part by the way)

What to look for in a style of music?

This may seem like an oddball question. However, when you think about it makes some semblance of sense. Think about it…

One of the major components that makes us enjoy a piece of music is the groove. Another would be whether or not the melody is singable. The other musical element would be the lyrical content.

One or a combination of all three elements help us to identify what type(s) of music we enjoy.

How do I appreciate different styles of music?

One of the first things that you can do on your music appreciation journey is to attend concerts that are out of your comfort zone. What does this mean?

If you have never attended a Rock & Roll performance, Jazz performance, Heavy Metal performance, then make it your business to see music that you normally wouldn’t see.

You’re probably thinking, “Why would I waste money on something that I may not enjoy?”

My retort is, “How do you know you may not enjoy it?”

I thought that I would never like Classical music. I changed my mind after studying Classical music while in college. I dig classical music and I have an appreciation for Opera. I would not have gained this perspective without having to experience these two genres in some way.

I became acquainted with Classical music while privately studying trumpet. I acquired a taste for Opera as a student worker.

Another thing you can do to develop your listening habits in 30 days or less is to talk to people that listen to other forms of music. A lot of the music in my library has come from suggestions from other musicians or friends that have different musical tastes.

If you don’t want to do this in a one on one session, another great way to develop your listening is to attend a listening party. What is a listening party? Similar to a watch or viewing party, just with music.

Here is a recap of how to build your listening habits in 30 days or less:

  1. Figure out when you’re most likely to listen to music

  2. Set a musical listening goal. Keep it simple!

  3. Research your desired genre and artist.

  4. Find music from said artists catalogue.

  5. Listen!

I wish you the best on your music appreciation journey. Remember to have fun along the way!

As promised in the introduction, below is a radio transcript from a show that I used to curate. Thank you for reading and enjoy!


Greetings Ladies and Gentlemen!

Welcome to another installment of “Keep On Keepin’ On!” here on USALA Radio.

I am your host Marcell Bellinger.I hope you all are doing well.

There's a huge question in the air…

And that question is, “What are you listening to?” That’s the topic of today's installment.

Before I answer that question, what's the significance of a said question?

As a professional musician, having that question asked invokes some very interesting conversations as well as an opportunity to discover music that I either: haven't listened to before or maybe haven't listened to in a on and so forth.

What are you listening to?

I am listening to several things.

Sometimes I’ll go through these phases where I'll listen to a particular style of music: maybe for research purposes or just enjoyment...which is actually kind of tough to do as a musician.

A musician’s brain is always... rather I’ll speak for myself. My brain is always going; especially when I'm listening to music. I’m always thinking: how did that person connect these chord progressions?... or that's an interesting texture. It is really hard sometimes to just sit and enjoy music.

It is what it is.

The first item on the docket for our program here is a track from the Wayne shorter album “High Life”.

Why am I bringing this album up?

First of all, this is a really heavy album.

It’s really fun, it's not super conventional within the Jazz vein. It's got a lot of Jazz elements and it's just a really great record to enjoy.

There were two instances that led me to listening to this album.

The first one sprang up when I was studying composition; I was with an amazing teacher. His name is Bruce Barth. He is a fantastic piano player and a really kind, genuine human being, and a masterful composer/arranger.

While sitting in his class he pointed out this album for its compositional qualities and after that moment I was hooked. Unfortunately, I had taken a bit of a hiatus after that composition class to explore other styles and other genres of music.

What led me back to Wayne Shorter’s “High Life” recording was a conversation between myself and a mentor that I have here in Philadelphia. He and I were discussing creative aspects of composition and of course several artists were mentioned; one of whom is going to make an appearance on this particular installment:

Mr. Oliver Nelson, who hands down is an underrated composer and arranger, and I don't understand why because his material is awesome as you will hear later on in this installment of the program.

Back to Wayne Shorter..

My mentor and I were discussing creative aspects of composition and this album happened to come up as a potential solution to avoid falling into the traps of: cliches, writing the same thing over and over again, being bound to a specific writing style and whatnot.

Undertaking something like this leads to the creation of your voice as an artist and that's what I'm looking for.

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