Bigger Ears: How to recalibrate your listening

By Kate Conklin
September 16, 2016

sheep ears

Julian Treasure’s advice on how we can listen better…


Listening deeply, in a discerning, and qualitative way is key to our work as musicians and communicators. All of these exercises can easily be done in everyday life. You have everything you need.


1. Silence
Three minutes a day of silence is excellent to re-set your ears, and recalibrate. If you can’t get total silence, go for relatively quiet.

2. The Mixer
In a noisy environment, listen for how many channels of sound you can hear. In a coffee bar, how many individual channels in that mix am I listening to? (The steamer of the espresso machine, the conversation at the table behind you, the traffic outside…)

You can do this in a beautiful natural environment as well. How many birds am I hearing? Where are they? Can I hear the sound of water? Wind rustling though the leaves?

3. RASA (an acronymn, also the Sanskrit word for “juice” or “essence”)

Receive: Pay conscious attention to who or what you’re listening to
Appreciate: Notice sound qualities and make little noises indicating understanding
Summarize: Treasure notes the importance of the word “So…” in conversation
Ask: Ask questions afterward