In today’s post, I’m entering an area that can, on the surface, seem a bit “woo woo”. (How did new age-y things ever get that name, anyway?)
I’m exploring the practice of visualization and how it can help us as musicians, students, educators, therapists, and human beings.
First of all, what is visualization? I was first introduced to it as a practice in middle school athletics. We would be on the bus traveling to a football/basketball/wrestling/track event, and our coaches would silence the bus and have us visualize the contest in as much detail as possible.
“Imagine yourself making layups, executing takedowns, completing passes, crossing the finish line first…”
Sure, imagining yourself winning has some self-esteem boosts associated with it. But it seems that practicing that neural circuitry can actually produce changes in the brain and body that set you up for success.
Fortunately, someone else has already written about some of the scientific studies and has provided some resources, so I’ll let you visit this article for more concrete support. What I’m going to do is explore the practical applications for you and me.
Outside of athletics, you may have experienced visualization from meditation practices or sources like “The Secret”.
As an aside, I think “The Secret” misses some important points – you can’t just visualize the outcome (although it’s important), you have to see yourself doing the work that begets the outcome.
So as musicians, therapists, educators, and/or students, how can we use visualization to become better at what we do?
How often do you visualize sessions and their desired outcomes?
Here’s a trick: when you’re working on a new song that has some musical challenges, visualize yourself doing it successfully. I’m glad to get reacquainted with this practice, because I fully intend on using it more with my students.
In fact, I’ll be going into greater depth on this topic as it relates to guitar for my Guitar Club members.
We can use this visualization technique in many areas of our lives – fitness goals, habit forming/breaking, relationship goals…
My challenge for you is to try this with a few of your music therapy-related tasks, whether it be a class you’re teaching, a session you’re providing, a test you’re taking, or a professional connection you are making. I’ll be right there along with you practicing this a lot this week.
One thing you want to do is make the visualization as vivid as possible. If you’re learning a song/guitar skill, imagine exactly how you want it to sound, how it feels physically to play it, how it feels emotionally to achieve it, and any other sensory elements that may be present.
Wondering where to start? Here are a few scenarios you can visualize before they happen. Remember, imagine it as if it has already happened and make it as rich as possible.
- Music therapy session
- Funding meeting
- Pitch for services
- Hot date
- Play session with a child
- Vacation you want to take
- Place you want to live
- Amount you want to donate to a favorite charitable cause
- Amount you want to see in your retirement account
- Paying off that last debt
That’s all for now! Be sure and report back!
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