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Listening for Learning

Performing a Pedagogy of Sound and Listening

Chris McRae

Whoosh, crunch, buzz, inhale, exhale . . . Listening for Learning: Performing a Pedagogy of Sound and Listening presents sound, listening, and pedagogical interactions as performances that create relationships, ways of being and knowing, and that provide an opportunity for transformations of existing and taken-for-granted practices in the classroom. By using performative listening and performative writing this book presents fragments of sound and listening as sites of learning and knowledge production. The written fragments throughout this book are offered as performances that listen for and hear sound as a central feature to educational practices in terms of bodies, classrooms, and pedagogy. The goal in sharing this performance of listening is to create opportunities for recognition, to invite further listening in educational contexts, and to employ listening as an opportunity for transforming and re-imagining educational spaces and interactions.

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Chapter 9. A Pedagogy of Listening


Listening is a performance. Listening is an embodied act of engaging, encountering, and interacting with others and the world. Listening is performed. It’s an act that is staged, danced, and played. Listening is a turning of and returning to the body. Listening performs. Listening makes possible new ways of being, thinking, and feeling. Listening is also performative. It’s an iterative act that builds on previous learned practices and performances of listening. Listening is cultural, social, material, and political. And listening can be disruptive and transformative. Listening can make new connections, new relationships, new possibilities.

In her compositions and workshops, composer and performer Pauline Oliveros created a practice she called “Deep Listening.” For Oliveros, Deep Listening “is learning to expand the perception of sounds to include the whole space/time continuum of sound—encountering the vastness and complexities as much as possible” (xxiii). This directed practice of listening as an expanded form of connection with and through sound is a meditative and generative act. She explains, “The practice of Deep Listening is intended to facilitate creativity in art and life through this form of meditation. Creativity means ←215 | 216→the formation of new patterns, exceeding the limitations and boundaries of old patterns, or using old patterns in new ways” (xxiv-xxv). Oliveros’s Deep Listening is a performance practice that plays with and emphasizes the pedagogical possibilities of listening.

There are two implications of Oliveros’s concept of Deep Listening as a pedagogical practice that resonate with the goals of this...

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