We discuss how audiation, the ability to clearly hear music just in your head, is the key skill that all of musicality and being able to play the piano well hinges on. How singing is linked to audiation. How to develop the skill of of audiation. Findings from sports psychology that demonstrate how important audiation is as a goal for pianists.  And much more!

Show Notes

  • Andy’s initial thoughts on audiation [1:00],
    Audiating after a concert,
    Audiation helping the memorisation of music
  • Mental practice away from the piano [7:35],
    Importance of being able to clearly imagine the sound as you imagine practising on your instrument
  • Findings from sports psychology [10:00],
    The importance of focusing on the goal rather than the mechanics,
    The goal in music is to imagine the sound
  • Studies show that good pianists practise by first building a strong internal idea of the sound of their ideal performance [13:30],
    This can be done two ways- in more experienced pianists by building up the sound from the score, and in less experienced pianists by listening to recordings,
    Listening to recordings in general is a vastly underestimated activity that boosts musicality,
    Importance of having pleasure when listening & practising,
    Pleasure and enjoyment of unfamiliar music can be cultivated
  • Different ways of listening to music [22:30],
    Appreciating structure of music requires audiation
  • Audiation is a skill that can be learnt, developed & practised [26:50]
  • Mental practice as a way of removing bad habits [32:00],
    Practising in imagination pretty much as effective as practising on the piano,
    Mental practice is great way of really memorising music
  • I’ve changed my mind from my earlier podcast- actually the #1 mistake of amateur pianists is to not audiate while playing, instead focusing on mechanical movement of the fingers, etc [34:30],
    The importance of hearing what you’re going to play in your imagination before you start performing
  • How audiation is a key skill that makes sight-reading possible and pleasurable (notational audiation) [37:30]
  • The importance of allowing ourselves to feel like a beginner at something without a fear of feeling incompetent, so we can enjoy it more [42:00]
  • The importance of singing to develop audiation [43:25]
  • If you can sing it, you can usually play it. If you can’t play it, this is usually because you’re not able to sing it [45:20],
    How singing depends on audiation,
    How to develop audiation
  • How audiation helps developing aural skills [51:10],
    Audiation in conjunction with kinaesthetic imagination,
    Embodied cognition
  • Efficient way to develop musicality- play one hand while singing the other [1:02:50]


How the Body Knows Its Mind- ‘The human body is not just a passive device carrying out messages sent by the brain, but rather an integral part of how we think and make decisions’- https://www.amazon.com/How-Body-Knows-Its-Mind/dp/145162669X

An External Focus of Attention Enhances Golf Shot Accuracy (the most cited piece of research on this general topic)- https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5903149_An_External_Focus_of_Attention_Enhances_Golf_Shot_Accuracy_in_Beginners_and_Experts

Adopting an External Focus of Attention Enhances Musical Performance- https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328106947_Adopting_an_External_Focus_of_Attention_Enhances_Musical_Performance

Developing a mental representation of a piece- https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325018718_Creative_Processes_in_the_Shaping_of_a_Musical_Interpretation_A_Study_of_Nine_Professional_Musicians

Mental Rehearsal & Visualisation- https://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/mental/visualization.html

The Mental Representation of Music Notation: Notational Audiation- https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5475827_The_Mental_Representation_of_Music_Notation_Notational_Audiation

Studying the brains of pianists- https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00636/full