The practice of mindfulness can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the autonomic nervous system that counteracts the effects of stress in our minds and bodies. Research on mindfulness and meditation has shown that these practices have the capacity to decrease the size of the amygdala, known as the brain’s “panic button” in charge of responses associated with fear, anxiety and strong emotions.
Mindfulness has become increasingly common in the workplace, the healthcare profession, and many school programs. In recent years, the incorporation of deep breathing techniques, mindful movements, and guided visualizations has also been used at all levels of music teaching, allowing students to leave stressors behind while fully engaging in the learning experience. For instance, when music students learn to utilize their breath as an anchor, they learn to connect to the present moment, to reflect on their playing with self-compassion, and to nurture deeper listening skills.
Some of the possible benefits of mindfulness for musicians include:
Improvement of students’ mood during lessons, making the learning process a positive experience.
Increased body awareness and mind/body connection, promoting healthy technique.
Decreased tension while playing. Increased active listening, shaping, phrasing and musicality.
Improvement in capacity to focus and concentrate during lessons and performances.
Improvement in memorization and reduction in performance anxiety.
Increased self-compassion and kindness in the face of mistakes.
Celebrate International Education Day (January 24) by reading “Mindfulness in music teaching: Practical applications to piano lessons” by Fernanda Nieto (MTNA e-journal 14.3 [February 2023], 28-29). Find it in RILM Abstracts with Full Text.
Below are further ideas from the text related to mindfulness and piano instruction.