Right now I'm writing a review of Eric Clarke's Ways of Listening, which has me thinking about how I listen to music. This was very apparent to me while I was listening to a recital this evening. We are interviewing candidates for a viola position, which naturally include recitals. My duty at these recitals is to judge the artistic quality of the candidates, not to sit back and attend to the aesthetics of the compositions or get emotionally moved. I'm also not precluded from these latter modes of listening, but it is very difficult to get emotionally invested while continuously asking, "is it good enough?" I was reflecting on this at the recital, when I realized that I often listen in a judgmental way, at least at the beginning of a performance. Just like in a human relationship, I hold off from a full emotional commitment until I have deemed the performance worthy. And even when I do make that commitment, a part of me is still cataloging the technical mistakes and triumphs of the performer and composer.
Is this the curse of the professional musician, or is it normal behavior for everyone?