Today was Day One of our two-day weekend with Pauline Oliveros and Ione.

The morning was spent considering the topic of Deep Listening – especially focal and global listening. I’m fascinated with the balance between focal and global attention, since I’ve found it is the most subtle skill that must be developed in my music students. It’s the least well understood by parents who haven’t played music or haven’t been taught to listen.

Pauline also talked today about the difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is simply the transduction of wave energy into electrical energy by the eardrum, hearing bones, and auditory nerves. Listening is a mysterious process, as it can only be picked up by the feelings conveyed by the listener, through facial expressions or other communications. DEEP listening, defined by Oliveros, is a heightened awareness of sound, sounding, and silence, brought about through the whole body experience of these three elements.

We did three exercises in the morning to explore the individual and collective consciousness in listening.

– Teach Yourself to Fly

– Walking Meditation

– Extreme Slow Song

Pauline also taught us a new word – auralization, which is the process of inner listening to create sound in the mind. This is the auditory analog to imagination, which is the process of inner visualizing to create an image in the mind. To illustrate this, Pauline asked, “What sound makes you think of home?”

Some of the examples from the room were “my cat”, “the fridge”, “Geary Bus 38″…In my mind, I had “the sound of my mom’s loud voice” or “food hitting hot oil in a wok to be stir-fried”. Interesting how my mind mapped “home” to my childhood memories of home, nothing in my current life.

In the Extreme Slow Song exercise, we were instructed to pick a familiar song from our own memory – something we know the words and tune to very well. Then, we were to sing it as slowly as possible, with each syllable lasting for an entire exhale. While singing, we were to move through the space of the room. There were 50 of us doing this simultaneously. I chose “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. I wanted to do “Amazing Grace” but didn’t know all of the words, so I went with the safe choice. I was surprised by two things – twice I passed by people and we were singing the exact same note at the same time, and each time I walked by a person, I quickened my pace a little bit because I didn’t want anyone to guess what song I had picked.

The exercise was to illustrate undulating awareness between global and focal attention, and the challenges of maintaining both. Many people observed that they forgot the lyrics or tune to the song when it was slowed down so much, and this surprised them. It required all of their attention just to remember the song. I was able to hear and sing at the same time, so I was able to notice some of the global sounds as well as keep track of my own. In fact, I was focusing perhaps too much on the others around me, self-consciously trying to avoid their judgment. The truth is that no one was listening to me closely enough to worry about what song I had chosen.

Tonight…we appeal to our Dream Soul Guides and ask for guidance on our dreams. Tomorrow we go through dream gathering with Ione. More to come in Part Two.

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