Mind Games: Improving your Mental Practice

ThinkingYou’ve probably heard the phrase “Practice makes perfect.”  But how about “Mental practice makes perfect”? Believe it or not, a lot of your success begins with your mind – setting goals and then envisioning yourself reaching them, for example. Below, check out some advice from Hillsborough teacher Jessica R. and get your mind in motion!

I tell all my students within minutes of walking through the door that learning to sing is a sport.  It requires training your voice and your ears, the development of muscle memory and a passion to improve every time you show up for a lesson.  What the audience hears is art, but they only get to hear you after months of coaching and practice have sculpted you into the Rocky Balboa of opera or musical theater.

So what can we learn from actual athletes that will help us become better musicians?  Sports psychologists have discovered that the most skilled athletes in any sport spend a lot more time looking at the target (the basketball hoop, the catcher’s mitt, etc.) than less skilled athletes.  This focus is called the “Quiet Eye,” and using it gives them the time to prepare their movements mentally before they actually take the shot.

I propose to you that the next time you’re out for a jog, stuck in traffic, or sitting in a waiting room, consider it the perfect opportunity to become a better singer.  Concentrate on something you’re working on in your voice lessons that you’d like to improve.  Be very specific with yourself about what it is.  Hear the music in your head and try to form the most perfect version of it you can imagine.  Try to feel the sensations in your body that you felt the very best time you’ve ever sung.  Avoid negative commentary like “Don’t miss the high note!” or “Don’t run out of breath!” and instead try things like “I need to sing more into the preparation note to nail this high note” and “I need to remember to breathe here in a relaxed and deep way.”  Repeat this process until the thoughts become second nature.  The results will show up right away the next time you practice!

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Hillsborough teacher Jessica R.Jessica R. teaches singing, music performance, opera voice, and theatrical Broadway singing lessons to students of all ages in Hillsborough, NJ.  Jessica joined the TakeLessons team in May 2012, with over 10 years of experience teaching voice and performing nationally as an opera singer. Sign up for lessons with Jessica, or visit TakeLessons to search for a teacher in your area!



Photo by shibuya246.

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