The Mindful Singing Teacher.
Updated: May 3
In order to discover whether mindfulness aids singing, I must first understand ‘what’ mindfulness is.
A Google search into ‘how mindfulness helps #singing’ produces over 8.5 million results and a Google Scholar search on ‘mindfulness and singing’ produced 22,100 results. Wow! Where to start my journey felt like choosing a piece of a puzzle.
So, that's exactly what I did.
I chose a piece and went with it because if there is anything I have learnt from research, it is just to start somewhere, anywhere in fact ! And you will end up on a path of discovery.
Image by kdfotografie.
Mindfulness. A Term Often Used in Today’s Society.
#Mindfulness is a term often used in today’s society (Elliot, 2010) with an intent to create a sense of #calm (Bishop et al. 2004). I am hoping to achieve and understand the term in much more context. I believe mindfulness is a personal journey therefore, it is important that I view the expression from multiple perspectives (Guba and Lincoln,1994) in order to gain an insight into the way others view the world, from a mindfulness viewpoint.
Everyone has their own ‘unique mindfulness’ (Czajkowski and Greasley, 2015). Perspective introduces different meanings and it made me question, what does #mindfulness actually mean and can it have a solidified meaning?
image by @kent_pilcher
In order to discover a general overview of mindfulness I wanted to gain multiple #perspectives (Merriam, 1995) as mindfulness for one person might mean something entirely different to another.
To organise my thoughts, understanding the expression of mindfulness and where and how it originated, I conducted a historical format (Randolph, 2009) approach to #research, to discover the origins of mindfulness.
To Live Skilfully, Mindful Meditation is Essential.
It is believed that mindfulness technique was instilled in the 20th century by psychotherapists and this method caught on in the 1990’s, ‘resembling the construct’s Buddhist roots’ (Cardaciotto et al. 2008) and created ‘Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction’ (MBSR) and ‘Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy’ (MBCT) (Cardaciotto et al. 2008). I find it enlightening at this stage in my research to discover that mindfulness assists clinical psychology to #reduce stress therefore, the theory of applying mindfulness to aid vocal technique could be achieved to reduce #stress.
image by @bradwestphoto
‘Historically, the concept of mindfulness has been associated with spiritual movements’ (Cardaciotto et al. 2008). Mindfulness practised through #meditation is said to have stemmed from Buddhism (Baer et al. 2004) and is called #Vipassana (Elliot, 2010). ‘According to Buddha’s Eight-Fold path’ (Rosenzweig, 2013) that to live skilfully, mindful #meditation is essential (Rosenzweig, 2013) but in order to achieve this, Buddha teaches we must produce ‘non-judgemental attention’ (Rosenzweig, 2013).
A Non-Judgemental Approach to Singing. Yes Please.
Now this concept, I like a lot. #Singing is very personal to the individual and a non-judgemental approach to learning within my practice, will definitely be instilled. I grant every student, permission to make mistakes because otherwise how will they learn?
A non-judgemental approach to learning new #vocal technique would decrease nerves and consequently would improve vocal #technique as nerves can cause muscle tension. ‘Singers learn to train muscles and release tensions’ (Blackhurst, 2021) but unlike a physical instrument that we can release or tighten because we can see the issue externally, we cannot simply adjust the cricothyroid and thyroarytenoid muscle with our fingers on the spot, to prevent vocal breaks (Herbst et al. 2019). Crico... what ? Exactly! Let's keep it simple, keep on breathing and training those vocal muscles, mindfully.
Baer, R.A., Smith, G.T. and Allen, K.B. (2004) ‘Assessment of Mindfulness by Self-Report: The Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills’, 11(3), pp. 191-206. DOI: 10.1177/1073191104268029
Bishop, S. R., et al. (2004) ‘Mindfulness: A Proposed Operational Definition’ Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11(3), pp. 230-241. DOI:10.1093/clipsy/bph077
Blackhurst, L. (2021) ‘Exploring the Whole Singing Self with Technique, Contemplative Education, and Mindfulness’ Teachers College, Columbia University, pp. 1-297.
Cardaciotto, L., Herbert, J., Forman, E., Moitra, E., and Farrow, V. (2008) ‘The Assessment of Present-Moment Awareness and Acceptance: The Philadelphia Mindfulness Scale’, Assessment, 15(2), pp. 204-223. DOI: 10.1177/1073191107311467
Czajkowski, A-M., and Greasley, A. (2015) ‘Mindfulness for singers: The effects of a targeted mindfulness course on learning vocal technique’, British Journal of Music Education, 32(2), pp. 211-233. DOI:10.1017/S0265051715000145
Elliot, M. (2010) ‘Singing and Mindfulness’, Journal of Singing, 67(1), pp. 35-40.
Guba, E.G. and Lincoln, Y.S. (1994) ‘Competing Paradigms in Qualitative Research’ In: N. K. Denzin, and Y. Lincoln, eds. Handbook of Qualitative Research, pp. 105-117. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Herbst, C., Howard, D.M. and Švec, J.G. (2019) ‘The Sound Source in Singing: Basic Principles and Muscular Adjustments for Fine-tuning Vocal Timbre’, The Oxford Handbook of Singing, (January 2016), pp. 1-28.
Merriam, S.B. (1995) ‘What Can You Tell From an N of 1?: Issues of Validity and Reliability in Qualitative Research’, PAACE Journal of Lifelong Learning, 4, pp. 51-60.
Randolph, J.J. (2009) ‘A Guide to Writing the Dissertation Literature Review’, Practical Assessment, Research and Evaluation, 14(13), pp. 1-13. DOI: 10.7275/b0az-8t74
Rosenzweig, D. (2013) ‘The Sisters of Mindfulness’, Journal of Clinical Psychology, 69(8), pp. 793-804. DOI:10.1002/jclp.22015