Four Filters of Active Listening

It’s something every symphony orchestra has heard at least once from a teacher. “Oh, my students won’t like that. They can’t handle listening to it, and they think it’s boring”. We know that live music is anything but boring. So how do we equip kids with the tools to understand what they’re hearing?

The Windsor Symphony Orchestra’s education programs focus on developing active listening skills. In active listening, students learn to focus on what they hear and respond to the information presented. Imagine a world in which relationships are developed based on the basic concept of really listening to each other!

The lesson plan, “Four Filters” encourages kids to try new ways of listening. This lesson plan explores melody, harmony, rhythm and visuals, discussing those concepts and using a listen-and-react exercise which helps students identify and describe them in pieces of music.

This year, the four filters were deployed at a partnership concert with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. Blindfolded patrons were encouraged to listen for melody, harmony and rhythm in a program, and to consider the emotions that are evoked using these musical elements.

Looking to the future, we have also presented the “four filters” approach to Faculty of Education students, the next generation of teachers. The WSO is committed to bringing active listening to patrons young and old, secure in the knowledge that our community is made stronger when we know how to listen to one another.

You can download the WSO’s ‘Four Filters’ presentation here. Thank you very much to the team at the Windsor Symphony Orchestra for being willing to share this resource with us!

To learn more about this, listen to WSO Music Director Robert Franz’s TEDx talk: Active Listening and Our Perception of Time.