Singers train, and train … and train. Spending hours in the practice room, however, is not a guarantee of progress. If we practice without mindfulness, we can become tired and frustrated, potentially practicing bad habits, both physical and mental. As master coach Ashley Jansen told me in our work together, “your mind needs to be a singer.”
How can we make our practice more constructive? A small investment of time every day in a meditation practice can make all the difference. Meditation quiets the mind and helps us to see our thoughts clearly without letting them rule our lives. Singers know how nerve-wracking performing can be if our self-critical mind is involved. With meditation, you can see those internal voices for what they are and let them rest. As you practice recognizing them during meditation, you can then take that awareness to the practice room and continue training your mind into a place of calm, centered focus. You’ll begin to know how much to practice, when to take a break (I recommend every 15-20 minutes), and let enough be enough.
Meditation also helps us calm our nervous system, which can become hyperactive during performances and auditions. We can let our day fill with a positive anticipation of singing, instead of a fear of making mistakes. Including visualization in a meditation practice can prepare us for singing the same way professional athletes prepare for an important game, anticipating our actions through each part of the performance.
If you don’t already have a practice, how can you get started? If you can find a quiet place in your home and set aside five minutes each morning to sit quietly, you’ve begun. And if you’d like guidance in deepening your practice, I recommend visiting a local meditation or yoga center. You can also find many resources online. Teacher Sharon Salzberg has many excellent YouTube talks describing and leading meditation.
Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. I have been working to deepen my meditation practice since I was a graduate student at Manhattan School of Music, and it has truly changed my daily living. I try to share the difference meditation has made with my students as well.
May you find peace inside, and may there be peace in the world!