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#119: Going Mental: How to Practice Without Your Harp

It’s all in your mind. No, I don’t mean you’re going crazy.  I’m sure you’ve come across the well-worn statement that 90% of performance, whether in sports or music or any similar pursuit, is mental. The idea, of course, is that your mental preparation, your mindset and your focus all are major factors in the success of your performance.

Even if the actual percentage may be hard to pin down, the idea is undoubtedly true. Our minds are powerful contributors to our success or our failure. Just look at the number of books and blogs devoted to this concept, from the iconic book The Inner Game of Tennis to Noa Kageyama’s insightful blog The Bulletproof Musician. (By the way, I’ve linked to both of those resources in the show notes for you.)

Today, however, I don’t want to dive into performance psychology. I want to deal with something much more practical, something you probably have heard about and wondered how to implement: mental practice.

What is mental practice? Basically, it’s practice you do away from the harp. It’s very practical if you are on vacation or even just away for a weekend and you don’t want to lose ground while you’re away. It’s terrific for testing your memorization of a piece or for focusing your mind before a performance. It’s also great for helping you learn your music, without the distraction of actually playing.

Maybe that’s a new concept to you, thinking of your playing as a distraction from your music-making, but I invite you to consider it. How much more could you learn about what is on the page, about the meaning of the notes or the expression of a piece, if you didn’t have to worry about which finger goes where? 

Maybe you’ve heard about mental practice but have no idea how to get started. I hope to change that for you today. If you’ve been trying mental practice but you’re not sure you’re doing it right or getting the most from your practice away from the harp, you’re going to discover some very practical ways to do this kind of work. And I can promise you, you’re going to find out just how big an impact mental practice can have on your speed of learning and on your retention. That’s two huge wins right there.

Links to things I think you might be interested in that were mentioned in the podcast episode: 

Get involved in the show! Send your questions and suggestions for future podcast episodes to me at [email protected]


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