This month I’ve been focusing on listening more.  And not simply having music playing, but really paying attention, conscientious listening.  Listening to the things I like and new things, help me figure out where I’m at in this crazy musical journey.  It’s my way to check in and see what’s changed and what hasn’t.

Here’s what’s been in my ears these past few weeks:

Barthold Kuijken, a baroque flutist.

TV on the Radio, the album Return to Cookie Mountain.

Aaron Copland, no particular recording or ensemble, but mostly the ballets.

Sufjan Stevens, the album Michigan.

Morton Feldman, The Viola in My Life.

John Coltrane, various recordings.

And of course, everything I play inevitably becomes part of my listening.

Here’s what I’ve been playing this month:

G.P. Telemann, Flute Fantasias, in particular the one in A Minor.

Henri Duttileux, Sonatine for Flute and Piano.

Robert Dick, Flying Lessons for Solo Flute.  (couldn’t find a recording for these)

The music for Tom Jones, by John Taylor Thomas.  I’ve been playing for their fall run, and I’ve spent a lot of time listening to and playing these songs.

I’ve noticed that what I’m playing and listening to profoundly influences how I play, especially when improvising, but also in composed music.  I tend to imitate whatever music has been stuck in my head the most, regardless of if that’s something I like or not.  In composed music, it means that I have to be very conscious of styles, especially when I’m playing new music, so that I’m making choices and decisions about my sound and not simply defaulting to whatever I most recently did.  In improvisation, it takes a pretty good chunk of time spent doing silly things that don’t make any sense to escape whatever is in my ear and get to the point where I’m developing my own voice, exploring the sounds interesting to me that day.

All you improvisors, does this happen to you?  Do you choose gigs carefully so as not to play too much bad, (or at least not your style) music?