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2016 TMT Institute: Sugar Vendil

Sugar 2016 Institute Blog Post Photo

Before you read…listen and watch. Listen to the link below, but here is the main caveat, listen with your eyes closed. Done? Now, listen and watch with your eyes open.

“Mediums” from David Bird

I’m interested in better understanding how different contexts surrounding our listening experience affect our experience of music. I conducted obvious experiments: having everyone listen to me perform with eyes open versus closed, providing background information on some pieces, showing videos with music on or music off. I know there have been several studies similar to this intensive day that have already taken place, not to mention some predictable outcomes, but as usual with TMT, something happened that I did not expect.

I not only gained some insight into how context affects a listener, but I also found that the way the group was listening to me play the piano affected the way I would perform and experience performing. The energy in the room felt different with each method of listening. I also found that my own interpretation of my performance in a given scenario (in simple terms, good or mediocre) matched with most of the people’s impression of my performance. I have no desire to completely dictate someone’s experience by telling them to keep their eyes open or shut, but I am curious about what factors into the quality of one’s experience of a performance as well as how it is shared between a performer and their audience. While pleasing people is not my ultimate goal, I do care about whether or not I’m communicating with my audience, and the exploration I did with my TMT fellows was a way for me to test out various hypotheses I had.

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