Comparative Listening

Woman wearing headphones


Comparative listening in classical music refers to listening to several different recordings of the same piece, deciding what you like (or don’t) about each performance. It’s a great way to deepen your listening skills, which can help you listen more carefully to your own playing. I prescribed this type of listening recently to a couple of students who are preparing for the finals of a music competition, and I’m sharing a couple of those examples here as well.

Recommended Recordings

I encourage my students to listen to recordings of the pieces they are learning, and occasionally I ask them to compare several different performances. I’m grateful whenever they take the time to listen to others, whether it’s via my Recommended Recordings page, using a playlist that comes with their method or repertoire book, or even via their own ad hoc YouTube search.

Worth Noting

I add recordings to my list periodically and only when it will benefit multiple students. I’m very careful to listen through to multiple recordings, choosing only the best ones to add to my page for students to hear. However, I will sometimes list recordings in lesson notes that don’t make the cut. If a student is going to comparative listening, it’s good to see if they can find the same flaws I noticed.

Minuet in G Major, BWV Anh. 114 by Christian Petzold

L’Adieu (Farewell) from 25 Progressive Études, Op. 100, No. 12 by Friedrich Burgmüller

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Comparative listening requires listening skills that you develop over time. If you’re new to classical music, this article details some good places to get started.

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Final Thoughts