Creating a Culture of Listening: Exploring Conscious Listening Workshops with Steinway Artist Hsing-ay Hsu

Part 1: The Vision

Imagine a world where we are multidimensionally connected to ourselves and others, open-minded about what we don’t understand, and intentional about how we fit into the big picture. We can build that culture of listening by becoming aware of how we listen to others and consistently practicing our quality of listening, along with helping others practice as well. The art of listening is at risk of fading away in our society. Our addiction to visual stimulation and sensory overload has left little room for quality listening. In education, the focus on measuring the quantity of memorized knowledge is squeezing out any time to reflect and integrate large concept principles. As a result, we struggle as a nation to understand, engage in, and digest meaningful conversations about complex issues. Effective communication is fundamental to maintaining a society, and listening skills are its basic building blocks.

Fortunately, music provides us with a safe and abstract playground to explore ideas and practice creative thinking and collaboration. A culture that values and nurtures listening skills creates an environment of empathy, trust, and respect, where diverse opinions and ideas can be shared and appreciated. By practicing the art of listening, we not only enhance our own wellness and our innate need to communicate, but make possible the emergence of a more civilized society.

Part 2: The Journey

Conscious ListeningTM  is the term I use to describe my multidimensional approach to music. Over the past 14 years, I have created listening workshops alongside my performing and piano teaching activities to help music lovers engage more deeply with life through music. These workshops provide guided listening practice to savor beauty, imagination, musical elements, emotions, colors, space, and connections. This conscious act of taking joy in listening to art music can potentially transform our powers of listening, enhance our health, find personal meaning, and access our creative mode so that we can engage fully in life.

When the pandemic started, I brought my Conscious ListeningTM Cafés online via Zoom to create a consistent community for my studio of adult students and music appreciation class participants. My goal is to take our listening skills beyond knowledge-based information sessions where they would own their listening experience and engage wholeheartedly. There have been moments of unexpected tears, surprise revelations, courteous disagreements, and collective empathy. Our diverse group of concert music lovers identify as lifelong learners, music teachers, amateur musicians, audience members, students, parents, visual artists, writers, creative thinkers, good listeners.

Part 3: The Approach

My Conscious ListeningTM method is based on 3 ideas:

1. Striving for a quality of listening through a four-step listening process, which is a cultivated skill and a long-term practice.

2. Focusing on one thread of a specific element within a limited period of time to hear all the elements and how they work together to create the whole and how it relates to us personally.

3. Engaging in an interactive listening practice that starts with the audience’s perceptions and then links them to the bigger context, unlike music appreciation classes or program notes that limit discussions to historical and biographical facts.

Part 4: The Methodology

The “Conscious ListeningTM four-step listening process” includes describing the elements of the performance, focusing on a specific element, responding to what you hear with your emotions and memories, and breathing with the phrasing. Over time, the audience starts to engage on three levels of listening, which involve surface details, organization, and deep integration.

Part 5: The Invitation

Join me online for Conscious ListeningTM Cafés every fourth Saturday from January to October, or in person at various workshops. No music degree is needed, only a love for concert music and the desire to practice listening. Upcoming chamber music related events include:

Conscious Listening™ Café (registration required)

NYC Chamber music masterclass 

Orchestral Colors of the Piano Intensive 

Sign up for Hsing-ay’s newsletter


YouTube with Geraldine Walther (Takacs Quartet) 

YouTube of recent masterclass excerpt 

Subscribe to Hsing-ay’s YouTube channel

About Hsing-ay Hsu

Steinway Artist Hsing-ay Hsu (“Sing-I Shoo”) has performed at prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center NYC, and infuses her experience as an international prizewinner, concert producer, adjudicator, in her work as teacher, educator, and owner of Nutmeg Studio NYC. Born in Beijing, she trained at Juilliard, Yale University, Ravinia Steans Institute and was a student and guest artist at the Aspen and the Tanglewood Music Festivals. Currently on the summer faculty of Rocky Ridge and Chautauqua Institute Special Courses adult programs, Hsing-ay was a faculty member at the University of Colorado for 14 years before recently returning to New York, where her teaching activities include chamber music coaching for Special Music School and Lucy Moses School at the Kaufman Center. She accidentally became a passionate teacher to adults at the age of 14, when a stranger overheard her practicing and asked her to give lessons. Hsing-ay shares the power of music through giving unique concerts, lessons, YouTube videos, and Conscious Listening™ seminars to access the creative mode, listen consciously, and make sense of the multidimensional human experience. Visit for more information.

More Articles

Kronos Quartet Second Master Class: Saturday, April 15

Join ACMP and the Kronos Quartet on Saturday, April 15 at 2pm Eastern for our second online master class on newly commissioned works from the Kronos "50 for the Future" library.

Read More ↗

List your Summer or Fall Workshop in the CMA Directory of Festivals, Schools and Workshops

Once again, members of the ACMP community (individuals, coaches, event managers and organizations) are invited to submit listings for inclusion in Chamber Music America's printed Directory of Festivals, Schools, and Workshops.

Read More ↗

ACMP at the CMA National Conference

ACMP was delighted to present a session at Chamber Music America’s 45th National Conference at the Westin New York at Times Square (New York City) on January 7, 2023. Moderated by ACMP Grants Committee Chair Susan Alexander, the panel included two amateur chamber musicians with widely different experiences: Paris Brann Milane of the Bronx and Karl Irikura from the Washington DC metropolitan area; and one professional musician who had dedicated his career to working with amateur musicians, Lenny Matczynski, a life-long coach and former Executive Director of The Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music in New Hampshire. Watch the video!

Read More ↗

GO FOR BAROQUE……an early music workshop in NYC

This March, longtime friends and colleagues Dale Stuckenbruck and Lisa Terry offer a workshop in Manhattan for experienced amateur string players, recorder players and viol players, where all will get a chance to explore Baroque music focusing on Baroque style, meter and emphasis. Inspired by their friend, violinist Janet Hoffman, Dale and Lisa have done a number of workshops and presentations in recent years and are excited to be working together again.

Read More ↗

How to hold a Play-In: January 28, 2023, 2pm ET on Zoom

Join ACMP for a free online workshop on How to Hold a Play-In! Just in time to prepare for the 2023 Worldwide Play-In Weekend: May 19-21, 2023.

Read More ↗

Announcing the 2022 Holiday Caption Contest Winners!

The winners of ACMP's 2022 Holiday Caption Contest are Hsing-ay Hsu, Victoria Bryan and Christopher Minarich. Check out their fun captions and read about our winners!

Read More ↗

 Chamber Music for Novice level players by Jill Schultz

Violinist and educator Jill Schultz shares tips on how to find satisfying chamber music repertoire for novice-level players.

Read More ↗

Just Play Concert: ACMP Members in California perform Beethoven and Gabriela Lena Frank

California ACMP members Sue Soong, Kevin Jim, Angus Davol and Julie Park perform an ambitious program of Beethoven and Gabriela Lena Frank at their concert in Albany, California, supported in part by ACMP.

Read More ↗

Watch the Kronos Quartet Master Class on YouTube

ACMP's first online master class with the Kronos Quartet on Saturday, November 12, 2022 was a success! Congratulations to the three groups from Idaho State University, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and SUNY New Paltz who performed so beautifully. Watch the November class and sign up now to play on April 15.

Read More ↗

Featured ACMP Member Michael Knoch

Meet flutist Michael Knoch, ACMP's IAC Ambassador in Berlin, Germa

Read More ↗

Kronos Quartet Master Class Repertoire Reveal:

Three string quartets from Pocatello, Idaho; San Francisco, California; and New Paltz, New York will play works by Missy Mazzoli, Ken Benshoof and Charlton Singleton for members of the Kronos Quartet on Saturday, November 12 at 2pm Eastern on Zoom and YouTube.

Read More ↗

Featured ACMP Member: Virginia Feldman

Celeste Chau interviews Virginia Feldman, ACMP's Portland, Oregon representative on its North American Outreach Council.

Read More ↗

A Wonderful Day of Chamber Music at MCW!

Read More ↗

Tickets now available for the Kronos Quartet Masterclass on November 12

Reserve your free ticket now to watch the Kronos Quartet 50 for the Future Online Masterclass on Saturday, November 12 at 2pm Eastern on Zoom.

Read More ↗

“Fall Worldwide Play-In” grant cycle now open!

Read More ↗

Location search: By proximity? Or in a specific location?

An easy guide to searching the ACMP directories by location.

Read More ↗

A Tribute to Candice Chin (1976 – 2022)

Read More ↗

ACMP member adventures in Ecuador

ACMP members Tom Cappaert and Art Malm returned to Ecuador to pick up a newly commissioned viola, coach with Alejandro Jiménez and donate more instruments to the conservatory in Riobamba.

Read More ↗

A new website and free membership for all 

In celebration of its 75th anniversary, ACMP is returning to its roots by dropping its membership dues. Read all about it, and about some of the new features of this new website (including helpful tips on how to renew your membership and tweak your personal profile.)

Read More ↗

Dutch Treat: ACMP to the Rescue!

Read More ↗


All Articles By