Singing Instruction – "The Inner Game of Music" and You

From the many fascinating subjects in Timothy Gallwey”s book, I want to take a look at his contention that the conscious mind too often gets in the way of the subconscious mind, and screws up our intentions.

What does all that gibbltygob mean to us average joes who just want to sing better? A lot.

Think of it this way: we (our conscious mind) says “I want to sing Happy Birthday.” It imagines what the song should sound like, and starts the process. With the conscious mind guiding the process, the subconscious takes over and begins to vibrate the vocal cords, govern the amount of air needed, control the diaphragm and other muscles. As the notes change,the subconscious makes the vibrations faster or slower, according to how high or low those notes are.

O yeah, and that part of our mind is also doing other little things at the same time, like keeping us alive.

The ideas come from the conscious mind, but the subconscious makes them into reality by controlling the muscles and organs that make this happen.

When we practice we are actually “training” the subconscious. During this process we (our conscious mind) takes a bigger role in the process, correcting and perfecting techniques.

But, when we perform or record we need to let go of that control and learn to trust that our subconscious has learned, and will do things correctly.

Think of this like a parent, teaching a child to walk across the street. The parent holds the child’s hand as they cross it many times, telling the child to “look both ways before…” or “watch for cars coming from all directions” etc. Finally the day comes when the parent must let the child go alone. This requires great trust that the child has learned the lessons you’ve taught.

So it goes with singing. Our conscious mind is the “parent”, our subconscious, the child. We train it with exercises and songs, and then trust it to do what we taught it when we perform.

But all too often this “parent” part of us can’t keep from jumping into the process. That’s when things can get seriously screwed up. For instance, you’re singing a song you’ve practiced. You know it well and sing it well. Then, during performance, you begin thinking about that really high note that’s coming up. And, what happens? Just before you start to sing that note, you (your conscious mind) jumps in and starts giving advice and directions to the subconscious (which sang it perfectly well yesterday). Your thinking goes something like this: “Ok, subconscious, you’ve proved that you can sing this note for me, but right now I just don’t trust you to do it without my help. Remember, you need to open your mouth and throat more, add more air, tense these muscles…..”

And what happens then” The subconscious gets confused by all this outside advice and misses the note. You just shot yourself in the foot.

This type of conscious-subconscious interference happens a lot. Become more aware when you are doing it. Let go and let Subconscious.