Picture this. You’re backstage before a big performance waiting for your turn to step into the spotlight. A few steps away from the curtain you can hear the murmur of the audience and your pulse starts to race. You take a deep breath and confidently walk onstage. The heat of the lights hits you and you can feel the familiar weight of your instrument resting in your hand. As the first tune is being counted off you can see the first chord in your mind, you can hear it clearly in your head, and you know exactly what you’re going to play…
That mental picture sounds pretty good, right?
However, what you might not realize is that you’ve just practiced one of the most beneficial exercises in improving your performance – it’s called visualization.
Let me explain…
See it to believe it
Visualization is not some ancient mystical process or new age mumbo jumbo, it’s a very real technique that you can use everyday to improve your skills.
Simply put, visualization is the process of forming mental images. These images could consist of information that you are trying to memorize or a task that you are attempting to perform, it doesn’t matter. What does is that you mentally rehearse every aspect of that physical motion – seeing it, hearing it, and feeling it.
This is the same technique used by the top professionals in every field, from public speakers to professional athletes like Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan. And the results speak for themselves.
For instance, in 1954 runner Roger Bannister was the first person to break the 4 minute mile barrier, a feat unimaginable up to that point. When asked how he did it he replied that he had simply ran the perfect race over and over again in the movie screen of his mind. Visualization.
And he’s not alone. Sports psychology has become a field unto itself, where mental training is just as important for aspiring athletes as physical training. Check out this great article from the New York Times about how Olympians use visualization to reach their peak performance.
What professional athletes, sport psychologists, and many others have realized is that the mind is one of the greatest tools that we have in teaching the physical body a skill.
And lucky for you the benefits of visualization can also be applied to music.
Mind over musical matter
The body doesn’t teach the mind, the mind teaches the body.
Music, just like many sports, is ultimately a performance. You need to act under pressure, performing skills and recalling information on the spot in front of an audience. This is no small task and as you might suspect, many musicians use visualization to improve their performance.
The master pianist Glenn Gould was famous for using mental imagery in preparation for his rigorous concert schedule. He often claimed that he only practiced one hour a day and “calculated that he had played the fifth Bach partita roughly five hundred times, mostly while driving or walking around town.”
Gould discovered something very valuable. If the building blocks of a skill are conquered in the mind, the performance simply becomes a matter of technique.
But what does this mean for you?
Right now you might be struggling to memorize tunes. When you perform you get lost in the form or forget the chords and you might be hopelessly glued to the real book. Or maybe you’re starting on your journey and want to reinforce the fundamentals of chords and chord progressions or learn them in all 12 keys.
Playing an instrument has many challenging physical elements, but often the solution to musical difficulties begins in the mind. And when it comes to improvisation the mind is exactly where you should begin.
Visualization is one of the best tools you can use to improve at the challenges of jazz improvisation and this is why we’re excited to tell you that we’ve chosen to explore visualization in our very first ebook!
Jazz Visualization for Improvisation
In our new eBook, we’ve applied the concept of visualization to the nitty gritty details of jazz improvisation: Chords, chord progressions, and the tunes that you play everyday.
Just like multiplication or learning a new language, jazz improvisation requires a mental foundation of memorized information. If you don’t have these concepts ingrained in your mind, trying to produce them on your instrument and use them creatively is going to be nearly impossible.
So why waste hours tiring yourself out when these problems can be solved in your mind?
Imagine instead having a mental map of every chord and of every chord progression to a tune that you’re trying to play. Envision yourself being able to play it in every key and having jazz language that you can use in a split second.
Once mastered, you’ll be able to focus on the creative aspects of music, rather than beating your head against the wall trying to ingrain the basics of music theory…and the best part is you don’t need your instrument to practice visualization.
Over the course of 179 pages and nearly 100 audio tracks, we’ve outlined specific techniques for mastering:
- Chord symbols
- Chord tones
- Common Chord progressions
- Jazz Standards
- The Jazz Language
- All 12 Keys
Get your copy of Visualization for Jazz Improvisation today.
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