As I look around my classroom, I notice a variety of earbuds and headphones plugged in while my students diligently work away at their assignments. When I was in high school, way back in 90-something, we were never allowed to listen to headphones during school hours. If there was one rule I could have changed, that was it. I listened to music constantly, on the bus, while jogging, while painting, and having the opportunity to listen to music while I did school work would have helped me focus even more.
Between then and now, I went through a period of ‘silence.’ Maybe it was music overload during college; I was a music major at Shepherd University constantly listening for class, practicing flute multiple hours a day, and being surrounded by others practicing and making music. While this was the college environment and degree I wanted, when it came to studying and paper-writing in my dorm room, I turned to silence.
I still find myself sometimes needing that ‘silence’ while I work. I have also found a new fix for my ‘listen while I work’ - Podcasts! I never thought I would be into talk radio, but over the past two years I have really come to like listening to these conversations. And not just when I work, but also on my commute to and from school; the school I teach at is 45 minutes from home.
What I listen to depends on what I am doing. When I run, I love to have on something cheery like Grace Helbig’s Not Too Deep. Her laughter lightens my mood. Other podcasts that get me in good spirits are Ask Me Another and The Dollop (a history podcast.)
When I am painting, sewing, or looking for creative inspiration, two of my long time favorites are Elise Gets Crafty and Etsy Conversations. In a community that is largely online, hearing these conversations with other makers brings that much needed human connection.
A few years back, the Etsy Success Team asked “What music do you listen to while you make?” Amidst the variety of answers, I was pleased to see I'm not the only podcast listener. When it comes to music though, my favorites include Impressionist composers Ravel and Debussy, singer songwriters like Jack Johnson, and the alternative sounds of Wilco.