Nothing interferes with my concentration. You could put on an orgy in my office and I wouldn’t look up. Well, maybe once.
– Isaac Asimov, Russian born American science-fiction Writer and Biochemist (1920-1992)
People have a tendency to take part in other activities while listening to music–reading, talking, walking, cleaning… Conversely, people who are reading often listen to music, presumably to drown out excess noise and commotion. Here are a couple reasons why these are not worthwhile practices for an aspiring artist:
– When walking down the street, you should be seeing, smelling, feeling, and listening to everything that’s going on around you. Your daily activities, no matter how mundane they seem at the time, are the very stuff of source material and inspiration. You need to glean quotes, descriptions, and settings from actual experience in Reality, and it’s nearly impossible to do this with earbuds streaming Jay-Z’s latest effort into your head.
– Likewise, when listening to The Black Album, you will be missing out on subtleties of phrasing, lyric, and metaphor if you’re washing dishes or making dinner. As nice as Beethoven’s sonatas are as “background noise,” you can learn a lot from these works of art that can infuse your OWN work with inspiration and nuance. But you can’t get at it if you don’t take the time to listen completely.
I recently started taking 30 minutes a day to listen to music without doing anything else, and I now walk around town and read without headphones on, which gives me a chance to listen to and be absorbed by reality.
You’d be surprised how much material is out there once you unplug for a bit.