Turn Off the Autopilot When Practicing Music!

image Sometimes, I stop my students in the middle of a phrase when something is going somewhat awry. I usually ask, "What happened there? What were you thinking about?"

More often than not, the response is something like, "I don't know" or "I wasn't thinking of anything." Then, when I ask "Did you hear what you did there?" I get "I wasn't listening" as a response.

I wrote that post-it love note to one student who usually answers, "I don't know. I just go on autopilot." I've told him that it's dangerous to not listen to what you're doing.

As musicians, we are creating sound pictures. If we aren't even paying attention to what we are creating, how do we even know if it's any good? Or whether we are getting any better?

Here some reading on Mindful Musicianship and Mindfulness-based Practice. Check out Ellen Langer's book "The Power of Mindful Learning" here: