We hear things all around us. As I'm writing this our birds are fluttering in the background, my family is engaged in conversation, and the wi-fi printer is spitting out my son's college paper. But I'm not really listening to any of it. Just because I know it's happening, doesn't mean I'm really tuning in to it. In fact, I have an uncanny ability to tune out things I don't want to hear in order to hear other things of greater importance to me. Hearing is NOT listening.
We spend quite a bit of time in Kindermusik over the years developing a child's ability to intentionally listen to things. In "Our Time" we offer the sounds of running water, for example. Labelling it, listening to it on the stereo, and imitating it as we tell the story of "Pete and PJ".
In "Imagine That", we listening to various songs told in conjunction with a playground story featuring "Josh and Katie", so that when we hear the melodies in a song medley, we can picture in our minds what to do with our bodies based on the associations we made with the story earlier.
In our very visually oriented world this can prove to be a huge challenge - staying engaged for several minutes with no pictures, only words. But by settting up the story with telling the children to listen for how he makes the banjo sound like a swarm of mosquitos, and to listen for how he uses the banjo to make us feel like we are on the bear chase ourselves, the children were held in rapt attention the whole time.