Over the last weeks, I have received many emails, a few comments and some personal inquiries into active listening time. In nearly each post in this series I’ve highlighted how this time allows me to make connections between music and literacy every day with my students. Whether it be visualization and reading, listening for the BME Rule, or inspiration for a story or poem, actively listening to music is a powerful way to engage students in their understanding of both music and literacy!

So what is Active Listening?  It is the art of listening with your intellect and emotion; where you can block out distractions and just focus on the music, listening to the intricacies of the sounds coming from the speakers.  I tell my students it is when your brain is active.

How can you make time for active listening?  I listen to music each day with my students during our snack time and focus on one piece of music for an entire week.  These repetitive listenings allow us keep the time short and to focus on the music at hand as we become familiar with it.  If you don’t have your students every day, you may listen together for the first 5-10 minutes of class or use an entire class period to listen and respond as you would a story.  Another option is to collaborate with another teacher.  You may work with the music teacher in your school to do most of the active listening part and you can integrate those experiences into other content areas.

Active listening is a wonderful time for students to build community while they discuss their ideas and respond to music.  In addition, you can mold the time to fit your needs as a literacy teacher.  For more information  about Active Listening and how it can be used in your teaching, check out these resources:

  • A few posts back I compared listening to music with how we read a book in The Connections Between Music and Reading as there are things you do before, during and after you read or listen.
  • Whether you’re collaborating with the music teacher or creating the time for Active Listening experiences in your own classroom, this post Music Listening Experiences will provide you with guiding questions and ideas for interpretive reflection after you listen.
  • This is the ultimate resource for integrating Active Listening experiences into your curriculum: Inspired by Listening is my teacher resource book that talks about it all.  It contains everything from introductory lessons about how to listen, questions to ask, activities to try, full lesson plans with reproducibles, complete project ideas and an entire section on background knowledge which includes composer biographies, information on musical genres and a listing of pieces you can introduce to your students.

And regarless of whether you use these experiences for integration with other content areas or not, allowing for active listening time with your students is an enjoyable activity that builds community in your classroom!


Celebrate Music and Literacy by taking advantage of Elizabeth’s book Inspired by Listening, a teacher resource book that focuses on how to use listening experiences in your classroom to inspire all kinds of writing (including sentence and paragraph writing, poetry and narratives), reading strategies (including visualization and main idea) and even grammar practice; all while listening to music that you love.  The book is on sale this month only (March) at 20% off!