I suppose I was not practising the piano enough in my university years because my piano teacher suggested I practise in transit from my home to university, on the train. This, Stephen said, would be a constructive way to use my time. Following his advice I placed the sheet music on my lap, and using my imagination, started to play. What a revelation! I did not need my instrument to rehearse music. The brain constructs learning through mental imagery and imagination.
Q. Why should children bother to attend band rehearsal if they forget to bring their instrument?
A. Because they can still learn through mental imagery.
I take this a step further. When a young musician once declared, “Sir, I cannot come to rehearsal because I forgot my trombone,” I put his mind at ease. “Rest easy because you can still attend rehearsal.” Providing him with spare sheet music, I had the boy make realistic movements with embouchure and arms, as if he were playing ‘air’ trombone. To make this look as real as possible required the use of his musical imagination. The boy thought I was a little crazy for asking him to do this but here was an opportunity to teach the band a new learning concept. Interestingly the boy did not forget his trombone again. Likewise with the choir, although I would not ask a student with a sore throat to sing they would still be required to attend rehearsal and mouth the words without instrument, with notation.
Score reading engages the musical imagination without the extra demand of physical performance. This cognitive rehearsal enables students to imagine the muscle movements that would be engaged in performance and provides insights into the musical structure and intricacies of a work that are difficult to obtain from merely listening. This visual clarity can enhance the pleasure of a listening experience. In addition, mobile devices can store digital sheet music, which can provide unlimited opportunities for private study.
from ‘Learning Strategies for Musical Success’ by Michael Griffin
“A must read for all music educators” – Robert Adams, Music Educator, New Haven, USA.
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Bumblebee! is more than just a collection of 84 choir exercises and rounds. The author shares timeless wisdom to help you get your choir – primary or secondary – into shape.
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