The Art of Listening



Among the key lessons that the world has learned over the past few months is the profound impact of music on healing. It reminds us of who we are in a setting where nothing seems normal, bringing us together even during social distancing.

We at HARMAN have long championed music’s unique ability to help enhance well-being and inspire lives. However, in order to tap into the transformative power of music, the key is knowing how to listen


What is the difference between hearing and listening? One is passive, the other is active. One is automatic, the other is intentional. One we use every day, the other we may not have used in years.

Studies have shown that when done correctly, active listening offers an abundance of physiological, psychological, and cognitive benefits. Active listening can be an extraordinarily valuable skill. The good news is that everyone can master it. So, what can we do to master this skill?


You must be actively engaged with what you hear. Take a moment to truly savor it. Sit down and pay attention to the track you’re listening to. Enjoy it with your body and mind.

The Art of Listening

Close your eyes. The activity in the emotional center of the brain (Amygdala) is about 75% higher when listening to music with eyes closed. Don´t listen to music as background noise: Let the act of listening to music become the primary focus.

Listen for musical elements like the melody, harmony and lyrics. Enjoy listening to every nuance to understand the complexities. Take your time to engage with a song and appreciate the work of the musician. Don´t skip ahead while listening to songs! Listen to every song in its entirety to be able to fully understand the intention of the artist. If you listen to music actively, it enables emotional contentment, aural pleasure and a deeper appreciation of music.

No Distortion

Avoid constant stimulation when hearing music like distraction from phone messages, social media etc. Get rid of all distractions. Turn off your phone, laptop and even the lights, then close your eyes and focus to the sound. Use headphones that provide noise cancellation when you’re on the go.

The Genre

It doesn´t matter which genre you are listening to, as long as you enjoy the music. Pick your favorite song and try to listen to the structure. What does it remind you of? What does it mean to you?
To test the quality of speakers and headphones you can use our best 25 reference songs (

The Equipment

Use good speakers and headphones for active listening. Use headphones that provide noise cancellation or at least noise isolation to avoid disruption

The Effect

In conclusion, when done consciously, listening has clear, quantifiable effects on the listener, many of which are profoundly beneficial. Listening draws us into the present moment, empowering us to act and to live with purpose.

Listening enhances our connection with others, helping us to build and nurture relationships. Listening stimulates our emotions, enabling us to receive and remember what we hear. Conscious, active listening is an acquirable skill with the power to combat the malaise of modern noise and improve the quality of life. Here’s to a life of truly listening.

You can also visit our Art of Listening website for self-education and inspiration, complementing the work HARMAN is doing to bring contemporary music education to students of all ages by collaborating with some of the most influential music education organizations around the globe.