“Deep Listening” among D-Term course offerings

By Margaret Koss

This year, for the first time, Lawrence will be offering a D-Term, in which students will be able to enroll in one 3-unit course for the first two weeks of December at a discounted fee. Because of the new flexibility, professors were able to delve into their own interests to create new classes.

Two professors who exemplify this are dean of the Conservatory Brian Pertl and Leila Pertl, visiting lecturer in music education. The two are offering a class called “Exploring the Creative Self Through Deep Listening.”

“We’d never been able to do a focused seminar just in this, so we were really excited,” Brian Pertl explained. The two have been involved in the idea of deep listening for a long time and have worked with everyone from corporate employees to young children. D-Term allows them to put their work into an intensive seminar format.

The course looks at deep listening and how it can be used to increase focus and unleash creativity. Students will study the way sound is interpreted, but also how learning to interpret sounds differently can help with their creative processes.

“[This] could be for anybody,” he clarified. “We all need to be creative, and this gives us an opportunity through opening up your senses to sound to then start opening up to doing creative [work]. Anything you can imagine, anything you’re passionate about can be rolled into this class.”

Deep listening is a skill the Pertls believe would be valuable to Lawrence students especially, given our busy, non-stop schedules.

“People are very uncomfortable with silence. We need to add something to it, interact with the people we see – but if you allow yourself to take everything in, rather than always adding to it, the results can be amazing,” Leila Pertl explained.

“It helps relieve stress and see things more clearly,” he continued. “By taking a pause and being reflective and contemplative, it helps you focus and get more out of everything you’re doing.”

The class is very collaborative, so the Pertls hope to have a wide range of majors to give a variety of perspectives. This also gives the class a lot of flexibility, and the two are entering the class with an open mind. “It’s all about the process and discovery and less about the expected outcomes—what do these individuals bring to this dynamic situation? Their ideas matter a lot,” he explained.

Taking a course in this format will give students an even more individualized learning experience than usual in the normal 10-week term. Being able to focus on one class every day for two weeks will also allow students to really be impacted by the course they choose. “What’s discovered in this time will transcend December,” Leila affirmed. And it extends beyond the classroom. Many of the courses plan to do intensives in Björklunden or go on other trips to enhance the experience.

Most importantly, these courses—“Exploring The Creative Self Through Deep Listening” included—allow students to share in the passions of their professors.

“It’s the professor’s chance to teach something they really want to teach,” she said. “We want to take everyone’s D-Term course,” he added.