Mindful Listening for Guitar Players

Many guitar players neglect their Listening skills. Please, don't be one of them.


View the full lesson at Mindful Listening for Guitar Players | JustinGuitar

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I used to allocate 10-15 minutes at the end of my day for this. I still do it occasionally but I only listen to live recordings when I do it now. Sometimes the fades and layering in studio recordings can be a distraction and unrealistic.

I am commenting on this just to bring this thread in the “latest unread threads” on the forum because I think this is one of the most important lessons Justin has published since his “The Most Important Guitar Lesson You Ever Need” video. (Mods, feel free to delete this post if it doesn’t add anything to the discussion.)

Being (one of) the youngest regularly active member(s) of this community (at least on the old forum, now there’s lots of new people here!), I find it fascinating how music moved into this background thing even in my relatively short life. A lot of my friends only know singles and Spotify playlists (nothing wrong with that) and the art of putting an album tracklist together seems to be going away.

So why all this “back in the old days” rambling? Because Justin is so right in this lesson! I am 100% sure exactly the active listening immensly helped me becoming a decent musician and not just a guitar player. Or as they say it, I learnt how to serve the song:

About ten years ago, I properly discovered Pink Floyd and I spent the next two years listening to The Wall every evening and doing nothing else. There was a few occasions when I mixed it with Animals, Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Final Cut but it was 90% The Wall. Few years before that, I did the same with Guns N’ Roses debut, Appetite for Destruction and Metallica’s Black Album. Most recently, I finally gave Toto a proper listen and spent a few months on Toto IV. The result was the same for all of them, I am able to “mentally isolate” single instrument/sound effect/production element in a song and make my own interpretation what it gives to the music and how to try to implement it in my own compositions.

Okay, back to listening now :sunglasses:

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After watching this video earlier today, a song I’d not heard before came up in my social media feed. Instead of having it play in the background while continuing to scroll, I closed my eyes and listened to the song mindfully. It really added to the experience. I’ll be doing that to albums now.

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This is something I always used to do in my younger years even before I started to learn the guitar. Also something that has since gone by the wayside after picking up the instrument. How dumb is that? lol

Well it’s definitely time to go back and not just hear the music but to listen.
Thanks Justin

When I was a youngster, I only had a few albums - The Jam, later on Pink Floyd and similar - and each one was planned, saved for and loved. Streaming is great, and opens up so much, but there are downsides. Great lesson, Justin!

Hey Justin, very happy to hear that we not only share our guitar journey , but also the meditation journey. Glad you also get that much out of it :slight_smile: Thanks for your guidance.

This takes me back to the first listening I did. My older sister had a bunch of R&B albums and 45s.
I was probably 8 or 9 and was so drawn in to the layers of vocals, horns and the locked in rhythm section. So good.
Thanks Justin. I’m definitely going to check out Victor’s book.
Best to all.

Where can I find the mentioned Spotify playlist? Or can I please just get a link?

Fantastic message, Justin. I am a 71 year old Woodstock attendee picking the guitar back up after many years. Spent years in an ashram meditating two hours a day. The first book I bought when starting playing again a year and a half ago was Zen Guitar My next will be The Music Lesson. I sure wish I still had the red Strat that I pawned in 1969 to pay tuition!!!

I can identify with Justin’s commen t about listening to a new record when we first bought it. I can remember the first thing I did when I got a new record was to put it on the turntable (yes - this was in the days of vinyl), then sit and listen to it all the way through on headphones.

Recently I’ve noticed that when music is playing, I’m listening out for the guitar parts - especially when it’s not a guitarists record. So maybe I’m getting back to that approach in my own way.

I have to agree with you about people not really listening to music like they used to in the past. Way too many distractions these days, what with their phones and other stuff trying to grab our attention. I used to enjoy just sitting down and getting lost in the sounds of a new LP that I had just bought, don’t do that much anymore.

I used to listen to music like this all the time. Especially with headphones. That was before I became an adult!

Excellent lesson. Music is a huge part of mental health and there’s a growing body of research on the positive effect of mindfulness. For anyone who would like to explore the mental health aspect further, I can wholeheartedly recommend the book “the happiness trap” by Russ Harris. It was a game changer for me. It’s a great introduction to acceptance and commitment therapy (a very well studied alternative to CBT, that further explores mindfulness principles)

Justin, I love that you made a lesson on this. I started doing “music mindfulness” on my own a couple years ago and never knew of anyone else who did this or had a name for it. I use it to wind down at the end of a long day or to just calm myself if I’m feeling overwhelmed. I do something similar to what you described - I think of it as “zooming in and out” on various aspects of a song. I particularly love doing it with orchestral music/film scores - I will spend 10-15 seconds focused on the string section, zoom out, zoom back in on trumpets or winds, zoom out, find another aspect to zoom in on, and so on…for the duration of the song. I like to do it with the same songs over again and you notice more about the song each time. It is tempting to grab your phone and scroll through Instagram while listening…but I am always glad when I resist. I don’t usually do full albums but that is a great idea that I will try sometime. Thank you for making this video so that more people can experience the peace and beauty of listening fully to music!

Interesting comments Justin. I’ve long thought that the younger generation are becoming so distracted, so easily now and it is a problem that we all should be concerned about. Mindful listening, just playing a piece of music you love without distraction, just lying back and really listening to the music is one of life’s great pleasures, and something we all should try to do more of.