Practice Tips & Tricks: Visualization

My final practice trick for you this month is visualization. If you've played sports or done other competitive activities, you may have heard of this before as a training technic. And it does work in practicing your instrument as well. If you follow the blog regularly, you may have caught my book review of This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin last month. In reading it I learned that when we imagine doing something, the same portions of our brains fire up as though we were actually doing it. This is why visualization actually can work. 

When I am using visualization to practice a piece of music, I like to have the sheet music in front of me and I read along at the performance tempo, and mentally 'play' the piece. I know which fingers fall on each note, I hear the piece in my head, I know which parts get louder or softer. I rehearse all the elements minus actually playing it on a piano.

Some variations to make this do-able for beginning students:
  • Your piano kid could tap their fingers on their lap if they can't 'feel' the fingers in their mind.
  • Sing along as they mentally play it if they have trouble 'hearing' the music as they read through. 
When is visualization a good idea? 
  • On a trip when you don't have access to a piano, but want to keep a piece fresh in your mind. 
  • When you are waiting for your turn at a performance, mentally playing your piece can help calm nerves because it gives your mind a focus, and it prepares you for what you're about to do.  
 And that concludes our practice tips & tricks series to kick off 2019. We covered Games, Metronomes, Backing Tracks & Visualization as methods to enhance your regular home practice and help make your child a well-rounded and capable musician who is regularly engaging with their music in new ways. If you missed any of these, or would like to see them again, you can see them all here!