As teachers, parents and leaders we often expect others to pay close attention to us. Students are expected to watch us, listen to us and perhaps emulate us. An observation I have made is that we tend to judge the student’s perceived comprehension and willingness to learn by our interpretation of a variety of visual cues. For example, is the student looking engaged by making eye contact, staring out the window, moving around, talking to someone else, staring blankly at us or interrupting us? But are we too biased to make accurate assessments? Are we too driven by an agenda which prescribes speedy message delivery and learning? Do we have the patience to really communicate or educate?
Making music requires the acquisition of knowledge, the development of complex brain activity, the refinement of highly coordinated motor skills through carefully sequenced repetition, and most importantly, intense listening. It is ultimately an auditory art in an increasingly visual world. The art of listening seems to enhance what scientists refer to as limbic resonance. Limbic resonance, in simplistic terms, is a form of non-verbal communication at a much deeper emotional level than verbal communication. I asked my friend, scientist Dr. Erna Schilder, who initially introduced me to pertinent research in this field to offer a definition. She simply stated “reciprocity or togetherness.” It is the form of non-verbal communication musicians instinctively use when performing collaboratively.
In the making of music, we often think in terms of energy which propels the music forward and gives it a much needed sense of direction. We also speak of personal investment of our energy which makes the music “come alive” and become relevant to others. In order to achieve this “musical” state we need to open and stretch our creative minds. We have to want to deeply communicate with others.
Although people often chuckle when I speak of conversing with my dogs, they provide a lovely opportunity to learn how to communicate with a non-verbal being according to professor and clinical psychologist, Dr. Stacy Coleman Symons. Have fun watching the following video of an exchange I had with three dogs, my husky Minnie and two of her canine playmates. The point of the video is to illustrate that we need to keep an open mind regarding forms of intelligence, comprehension, communication style and have the patience to respectfully wait for an unexpected response. Can you spot the dogs' attempts to respond to my verbal question? Be sure to watch for the amazing conclusion!
© Copyright 2014 by Heidi Peters, heidipetersmusic.com, Winnipeg, Canada. All rights reserved.