Practice in Your Head. It may sound crazy, but again, we borrow from the world of Athletics. Since the time we were exposed to when the Russians (they were banned for years) were allowed to participate back in the Olympics, the first year they came back. They took all the Gold Medals. What was their secret? They had mentally, over and over again, practiced their routines in their head to the point where, when they had to do a routine, it was as effortless as walking a dog.
In the 60’s, when scientists seemed to use college students like they were lab rats, there was An experiment using hypnosis and demonstrating the effect of hypnotic mental rehearsal by splitting a college basketball team in half. Now, Half of the team practiced shooting free-throws in the gym for several hours a day for a number of weeks. The other half of the basketball team was hypnotized and practiced shooting free-throws, but they practices in their imagination for the same period for the same number of weeks. Afterwards, both groups were put together and tested for accuracy doing free-throws and compared.
The AMAZING FACTS The researchers found that…
It was the players who vividly imagined shooting free-throws improved the most markedly more and
did as well as the players who physically practiced .
Because the players who imagined shooting free-throws never missed.
They were practicing success,
whereas those who shot in the gym were missing, sometimes the same way, over and over.
At first the results of this experiment seem startling, but when you start to think about it, it really makes a whole lot of sense. And if you weren’t immediately struck after reading this by the profound implications this has for the serious musician, here’s a list for you:
It means that, in some respects, mental rehearsal is actually superior to physical practice. Just like the players above who imagined and never missed, one never makes mistakes when practicing mentally.
It takes that old saying, “practice makes perfect” to a higher level where “perfect practice makes perfect”. How you practice is in many ways more important than how much you practice. Rather than practicing mistakes over and over (which sometimes develop into bad habits you have to unlearn), what if you were able to use mental practice techniques to get it right in the first place…and then physically practice that?
It makes it perfectly clear that you do have the potential ability to practice music anywhere, anytime…without any instrument.
For those of you prone to over-practicing, you can reduce wear and tear on your body and the risk of permanent damage by switching to relaxed mental rehearsal, especially when your body’s telling you that it’s time to stop.
Whenever you find yourself waiting somewhere for whatever reason, make what would ordinarily be an idle waste of time an opportunity for you to run through your musical exercises or rehearse songs or even entire sets in your mind. If you normally spend a lot of time on the road, what if all that drive time were to become your quality practice time? Would you find that helpful?
And if that’s not enough, let’s go ahead and take it up another notch. Imagine what it would it be like if you were able to practice music all the time, whether you were consciously doing so or not? What if you found a way to program your subconscious mind to be practicing for you behind the scenes no matter what you happened to be doing consciously? Knowing that your mind normally multi-tasks thousands of activities at the same time, what if it could take conscious directions to practice whatever you tell it and, like a program that you minimize on your computer that keeps on running while you do other things, it just runs your practice program in the background during whatever you are doing?
And if you happen to play guitar, this gives a whole new meaning to the act of playing “air guitar”, doesn’t it?
Research has revealed that muscles perform subtle micro-movements in conjunction with the visualization of performing physical activities. So mental rehearsal itself actually turns out to be physical rehearsal in a very real sense, since you do end up practicing physically to some extent anyway. Every time you just think about moving, your body responds by activating the exact same nerves and muscles normally involved in those movements. Doing so reinforces those mind/body connections for when you do physically perform those activities.
Another advantage well worth mentioning is that you have more freedom to think beyond habitual tendencies and usual patterns of playing. When your musical abilities are released from any physical limitations, you are more free to think “out of the box”. This is simply because the physical “box” that normally restricts you just isn’t there.
You may have recognized the tendencies that fingers often have to automatically slip into the same darn patterns every time you first touch your instrument. It’s almost as though they have little minds of their own that want to drag you into doing something that’s habitual and very comfortable for them, but which your mind is all too familiar with. That happens because your fingers kind of do have minds of their own, which is called muscle memory. One of the cool features of mental practice is that the mind completely dominates what your muscles react to, instead of your muscle memory leading you down old familiar paths and reverting to what you already know thoroughly right off the bat (as often happens during physical practice).
Again, hypnosis is not about anyone controlling you or about being controlled, it’s about learning how to control your own mental states.
Nothing illustrates this more clearly than knowing that state-of-the-art trance technology offers many astounding benefits like this for the musician and anyone else willing to experience and master hypnosis for themselves.
Use hypnosis to greatly enhance and expand your practice regimen,
as well as to provide you with quality practice time when your body needs a rest.