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Tag Archives: practice routines

Visualization in Music Practice

By Nicholas Krolak

visualization in music practice

Let’s do a little experiment. Sit down and close your eyes. Now I want you to think of the hardest piece of music you know. When you are ready, play through that piece in your mind as fast as you can. When you make a mistake, raise your hand and stop. How far did you get? If you are like most people, including myself, you didn’t get very far at all. Possibly a few phrases, but most likely only a couple measures.

This exercise, which was shown to me by the electric bass virtuoso Gerald Veasley, illustrates an intriguing point. Let’s think about this. The mistake that happened, which is a mirror of what happens with your instrument, happened without the instrument being present or you playing it. The mistake actually happened in your mind. 

We often think that when we can’t play a musical passage, it is because we cannot play our instrument, a physical problem. However, this exercise suggests that the problem may not be physical. Rather, an internal block is just as debilitating as an external one.

So what can we do about this?

The answer is visualization. When confronted with a passage that is difficult or has been giving you trouble for a long time. Take some time to sit with your eyes closed, away from your instrument and think your way through the passage. Very slowly at first, and increasingly faster. Try pantomime the movements on your instrument. Then play it on your instrument. 

You will be surprised at how effective this can be. It has been my experience that more often than not one of two things happen. 1) The problem magically disappears or 2) The cause of the problem is revealed. The second outcome is extremely important. It is very easy to be stuck in a blindspot and visualization can help give you a better perspective on the issue. Also, once you are aware of the real problem, you can take steps to fix it.

visualization in music practice

Another great use of visualization is for preparing for a performance.

Before your next performance use visualization as a test to make sure the music you have prepared is ready. If you can think your way through the music you are in good shape. Next, spend some time visualizing yourself at the performance on stage. If you are unfamiliar with the place you are to perform, go there ahead of time. The goal is to make your visualizations as realistic as possible. How will you feel on stage? How bright will the lights be? What will the audience’s applause sound like? How will you feel after the performance?

The technique of visualization is used by many high level performers in a variety of fields. From professional athletes, CEO’s, as well as performing artists. Make no mistake, it is not a substitute for regular and focused practice. Rather, in combination with regular, focused practice, it has the capacity to greatly increase your confidence, skills, and results. 

Music Practice Routines for Kids

How to Foster Good Habits and Develop Practice Strategies for Music Lessons

practice routinesAs a parent, it’s natural to want your child to learn good study habits and time management skills. Taking music lessons can be a great way to develop these skills, but they can look different when studying music rather than studying standard school subjects, such as math, science, or history. If you’ve never studied an instrument yourself, it can be hard to know how to help your child foster these unique skills. From the teachers at Philly Music Lessons, know that encouraging your kids to be good music students doesn’t have to take a lot of work, but it can go a long way.

Keep a Routine

When it comes to studying music, consistency is key. Some ways to maintain consistency in your child’s studies include:

  • Maintaining a regular lesson schedule with as few changes as possible.
  • Setting up a practice schedule that occurs at the same time for the same length every day (for example, a ½ hour of practice at 6 pm every weekday).
  • Keeping track of lessons, practice sessions, and progress in a notebook or journal.

Building these regular habits will allow your child to see the fruits of their labor much sooner. If their practice and lesson schedule is too sporadic, they won’t retain what they’ve learned as well, and musical concepts will need to be repeated more frequently than necessary. To build the ideal practice schedule for your child and their instrument, have a conversation with their teacher about what will work best.

Similarly, make the process of practice and lessons fun and welcoming. If possible, set up a space at home just for your child’s practice. Furthermore, you can incentivize practice and lessons with compounded rewards, such as small treats, tokens, or activities.

Be a Part of the Process

While your child’s study of music is unique and individual, you can have a healthy involvement in your child’s studies. Check in with their teacher after each lesson to understand what they’ve learned that week and what they should be practicing. Sit with your child while they practice if they’d like that, and encourage them to perform selections for your family once they’ve grasped a new concept. Celebrating small milestones will encourage them to work through the next step, which in turn will develop their work ethic and endurance.

Trust Their Teacher

We love our kids, and we think the world of them and their abilities. As a result, it can be all too tempting to push them into working on songs or auditioning for performance opportunities they’re not quite ready for. If your child’s teacher wants them to wait for certain songs or opportunities, discuss it with them. Their teacher is a trained professional who also wants the best for them, so the more you can be patient and encourage your child to do the same, the sooner they’ll be able to play that song or go for that competition.

It would be wonderful if all of our kids started music lessons by being focused, determined, and skilled. Studying music, however, is not solely about fostering talent; studying music works to develop these skills in kids, which will help them succeed later in life. Keep this in mind, and your child’s music lessons will go from a chore to a rewarding process that’ll last them a lifetime.