Valentina Jotovic 66 min read

Why Listening to Recordings is Important for Your Musical Development

At the beginning of my musical upbringing I started listening to a few musical groups that really made me want to start playing, but I had no developed musical taste--at least not as I do now. I was dabbling in trumpet, euphonium, bass, and guitar, because these instruments for one reason or another spoke to me.  Maybe it was because the sounds of blues and jazz always struck me in a way that no other music could, and those were the instruments I associated with those genres.  Eventually my musical curiosity overtook me, and I asked my parents to buy me a jazz album.  My parents, having no idea what to buy, picked up a remarkable album, which was Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers: Indestructible.  The sound of Art Blakey’s ride cymbal still sends chills down my spine, and I have probably listened to that particular recording over a hundred times.  This one recording eventually led me to create my own personal CD and LP collection of over 300 recordings of not only Jazz, but Rock, Pop, Classical,… you name it. Here is a list of the top ten Recordings that changed my life:

  1. Wayne Shorter – Speak no Evil  
  2. D’Angelo – Voodoo
  3. Miles Davis – Four and More/My Funny Valentine
  4. Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt- Sonny Side Up
  5. Against Me! – As The Eternal Cowboy
  6. Elvis Costello – This Years Model
  7. James Brown- 20 All Time Greatest Hits!
  8. Stevie Wonder- The Talking Book
  9. The Beatles – Revolver
  10.  The Clash – Sandinista

Why is it important to develop your own musical tastes? Guitarists and bassists have the luxury of creating their own unique style and sound, and part of developing that sound comes from listening and copying your favorite (not only guitarist and bassists) musicians.  If you love the way Sonny Stitt plays the Saxophone try to sound like Sonny Stitt on your guitar. If you love the way Stevie Wonder sings, try to make your guitar sing like Stevie Wonder! Finding records you love helps you develop your musical tastes. Let’s say you love Taylor Swift for example. This means you most likely enjoy country music. Maybe your developing country music chops will bring you to enjoy Hank Williams. Then your love for Hank Williams brings you to love Blue Grass. Your love for blue grass gets you into roots blues music. Your love for blues music gets you into jazz. Eventually your whole musical world expands until you have rather eclectic tastes. Listening to your favorite records is good for your musical and personal growth, and it’s also a lot of fun! So get listening!  

By Jim Scanlan, Guitar Instructor at Hunterdon Academy of the Arts

Jim is a member of the Philadelphia-based group Lady, which is making quite a splash.   Below is a clip of their song "I believe in you," to be released by Ropeadope on the their forthcoming CD, You & Me.