Visualization as a practice technique

I know there is research on the value of using visualization as a way to supplement physical practice. I feel like I ‘play in my head’ all the time when I can. I wonder if anyone has any thoughts on the topic. I suppose it could be a good move given there would be no muscle fatigue.


This may be relevant:

What has your experience been with “playing in your head” / visualization for practice? Certain things it feels like it works better for than others?

It’s hard to be objective…but it seems like I get new techniques I’m working on to ‘lock in’ for short periods more often when I’ve included some visualization in idle moments (usually the night previous). I remember Steve Morse talking about visualization as a way he would memorize tunes (or fingerings) while traveling to a gig…something I was able to use too. Now it seems to help with negotiating new picking motions

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The nice thing is there’s no harm in it :slight_smile:

I agree - no harm but with potential for significant benefit. A pretty good indication to try it out.

Allow me to chime in.
A few years ago, I was taught a set of 23 strikes and 23 parries using a wooden sword. I had one day to master it and I had to perform then against another swordsman, at a fast speed. I visualized the whole thing first slow and I build up to high speeds. After thatz I was able to do it, without hours of practice. Maybe you guys are really onto something.

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Good read with follow up link to more articles. I wonder if I am a good imaginer (or how they tested that yo create the groups with the golfers). In any case, it seems imagining the sensation of the movement is important…nor just the ‘visual’.

I have read three books about learning/talent/mastery so far and in each of them, the author was very enthusiastic about magical visualization practice.

There are a lot of studies like “Basketballplayers of Team A where better than team B by just doing visualization” yadayada.

I personally am not a fan. Back when i spend an hour on a bus every day on my way to school, i tried it for a week and didnt get any results i could notice. Plus, its colossally not-fun to me.
It might be the case that an experienced player can utilize it better, as he knows the feeling of the right way of doing it and can train to reactivate that. But as long as you are still searching for a better technique, i dont see how it can be beneficial.

Ok, there is one thing: I noticed i have “Black spots” during fast passages, where i am doing something which sounds ok, but my brain does not really go through a three-notes-chunk. When i go through that passage mentally before, the result gets a little better, not sure if that qualifies as mental practice, though.

So i am still sceptical. Also, again, i think its just such an ordeal.

I’d say that counts as mental practice - bonus that you get results. I really just do it in the 3-5min before falling asleep at night. Difficult to really measure it’s effectiveness as I find my progress is not linear in terms of time. I can see how an hour on the bus would not be any fun. It’s interesting though. If it is effective, it’s pretty low cost/risk…so potential for high value. I’m also interested in sleep (i.e. the stages) and it’s effect on physical performance - apparently this is when the new pathways are ‘programed’.

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I’d heard about visualization as a practice method years ago. Weird since music is an aural art. As far a fingering scales I’ve tried it and had little headway. Can you picture in your head your fingers running multiple scales? Cool! Your fingers will still need to learn the movements. It’s good to listen to music in your head as it can build your ear. But visualization is genius level stuff. Where intrinsic talent supersedes practice regimens.

My focus with it is more in the picking hand - the sensation of loose but precise speed from the wrist (I still struggle with some movements) as well as connecting with the fretted notes (I guess this is ‘hand sync’), but not running different scales really. I think the intersection of visualization and music here is in the physical performance of it (speed as it relates to good technique), not so much in the creative output (the aural) side…

1 Like Tip No. 2 ties into your theory.

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It definitely helps, I kind of was overplaying my guitar and my hands felt fatigued and I don’t want to hurt my hands so instead I’ve been focusing on whatever I wanted to learn by really listening to it, getting the basic motions down and then just going for it. I’ll think of different picking patterns in my head and visualize my hand doing it like like for example down, up, down, up, down, up and turn it into just 1 down. Eventually that’s to much for my brain so I just feel that initial downstroke

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