I often tell my students that one of the most important things they can do to become better musicians is to listen. Listen to all kinds of music, listen to different opinions about music, listen to what the artist is trying to say through his instrument and listen to what each instrument is doing in a song.
Listening isn’t just about enjoying the beat or the melody, but it’s hearing the role of each instrument. It’s hearing that faint horn that resounds at the climax of the chorus, or that lead lick that is repeated throughout the whole song.
At university there was a subject called Aural and General Musicianship. This basically taught us how to train our ears and how to listen to music, how to follow instrumentation, key changes, note intervals etc. Through this training I learned to appreciate all types of music. I learned that even a 3 chord song can have so much going on. Each instrument told a different part of the story of the song, that might seemed lost in the whole mix of instruments, but if it were not there something would be missing.
Listening is such a key element in becoming a proficient musician, Whether you play the guitar, piano, drums, bass or even sing, training your ear to listen to all parts of the music is one of the mist important things you can do.
So next time you are listening to a song, pay a little more attention and see if you can pick out what instruments are being played, the melody or tune of each instrument and how often they are played within a song. I promise you a whole new world of music will open up to you.