What a pleasure to catch up with Ryan Keberle!! Check out his new project called Reverso. If you enjoy french composers like I do, you will want to hear this.
Enjoy this discussion where Ryan and Jake dig into the importance of Deep Listening and much more.
Some highlights of the advice points listed/transcribed here by Cameron Wong (class of 2022)
1. Have patience. Enjoy the process. The process is what makes people in music great, it's easier to have patience if the process is enjoyable.
2. Without our constant practicing in the regular times with all the playing we do in school, we practice more at home and get better in some areas, but our endurance isn't as good because we aren't playing for long periods of time all at once (like a gig, or rehearsal)
3. Regular, constant routine with every day is very important (especially for brass players).
4. Playing high notes isn't the goal, it's playing them comfortably. If you struggle to play high notes, then you don't really play them. When they're comfortable then you can actually play them.
5. To help with register, try playing in different keys, and changing the octave (up or down from where it's usually played). This helps make it easier and easier. Regularity is essential with this.
6. You don't get better by listening to lots of different music, you get better by listening to one piece and really pick it apart. It might seem boring to listen over and over and over to one piece, but it's good because you learn more each time you listen. Each time you can find something new and learn from that new thing.
7. When listening, turn the computer around, close your eyes, turn off your phone, just sit back and listen. Without any other distractions, you can notice all the details, and those details are what makes great musicians great. Listening to find all details and being able to come back around and put those details and every single bit of minor technique into their own playing.
8. Listen to whatever music you want, but listen to it every day and try to find something new. The music should be a single track or piece, and you need to listen every day (more regularity) and just try to find something new. Listening carefully is the key.
9. Music and art are hard to teach because the language isn't verbal, and the standards aren't tangible. There is no "right" or "wrong", there's one way and there's another way. Instructors can say what they hear with whatever words they can think of, but there's no 100% effective way to transfer knowledge. You don't know what you don't hear until you do hear those things. Listening is hard because there are so many details and you can't always express what they are and if they are expressed, the student isn't always able to hear everything that the words they are told explain. There's going to be way more in what the teacher hears than what the student hears simply because of experience and the way music works. Once again, patience is a theme.
10. Closed eyes are so important. Today's generations are the worst listeners in history, but they're also the best visual learners because we have so much visual stimulus and so little aural stimulus, or if there is audio there's visual to go with it. Our aural distinction is undeveloped compared to our visual distinction. Get rid of all stimulation except for audio. The visual and physical stimulation is only distracting from the music. "Become one with the music", don't just sit there, do what naturally comes when listening to music (toe-tapping, etc.), and connect to it. Start with closing eyes. It might be enough for years.
11. Focus on elements of the music that aren't always focused on (in pop, something that's not the lyrics). Our usual focus is usually on the words of pop music because they are in a language we instinctively recognize. Words are different than non-lyrical music and to understand the music to the full extent we have to look past the words to the music behind them. Just a little bit of hard work listening to different parts can make the rest of your listening experiences that much more enjoyable.
12. Electronic music and other modern music today is much more complicated and they have so many more parts and elements with all the electronic parts and sounds that have been developed in the last 40 years. Often the most complicated elements are the drum parts because they have so many different sounds to draw from and compile.
13. Spend a whole week on one thing to stay focused and improve on listening. (Once again, regularity and patience)
14. Become a better sight-reader by writing music. Learn rhythms by writing them down.
15. You don't have to understand something in order to appreciate it to the full extent, you just have to be able to connect to the story. As long as you can understand the whole thing even without 100% understanding of everything it's good.
16. Great Sammy Nestico track: Tall Cotton (with Al Grey)
17. Nobody can really dance during covid unless you're making TikTok videos...
18. Listen to different versions of the same song, listen to how they're different, and how the melodies are different. Especially with jazz because there are standards and so many different songs that are repeatedly recorded with everyone having their own twist on it.
19. Listen to drummers. Dig into the details, how are their individual instruments different, their swing pattern, and their cymbals' timbres. They're all different and even though they're doing the same thing it doesn't sound the same.
20. Learn music by ear. It doesn't have to be written down to play. Does writing need to be in music in order to be a professional? Yes. Do you need to know how to do it? Yes. Is it useful? Yes. Is it necessary for actually playing music? No, music is an aural art form. Take the time to engage and listen more often to the piece.
21. Exercise is good for people. It's important to get fresh air and exercise and to get moving.