Meditation in the Music Teaching Studio

Learning to play an instrument can be a vulnerable, fun and exciting experience. With all these emotions flying around, meditation can be a great tool to use with piano students in the music teaching studio.

⬆️ Listen to the podcast above or keep on reading, whichever fits your style. ↙️

Playing the piano is a whole body and mind experience. Feeling relaxed and comfortable, being able to draw upon emotions as – and when– you need them, takes practice, control and strength. 

Meditation is a wonderful way for piano students (and teachers!) to feel centred and ready to perform at their best.

Note: If the word meditation is off-putting for you or your students, you can think of it as mindfulness or relaxation exercises.

Meditation Exercises for the Music Teaching Studio

Here are some simple exercises to get you started. Remember, what works for one student might not work for all students. Experiment freely and don’t be afraid to adapt!

Make sure you do the exercises alongside your student, too. Teachers need grounding at least as much as kiddos do. 🙂 

Box Breathing 

Box breathing is a really beginner-friendly way to immerse yourself in your breath.

Walking Meditation to Music

Spending some time alone walking through greenery and listening to music is a great meditation option for older music students and teachers.

Body Scan

A ‘body scan’ is a slow check-in with each body part, starting from your toes and working upwards. This can be done sitting on the piano bench before playing and tends to work best with eyes closed so you can concentrate on the sensations.

Mindful Seeing

Focusing on the detail in an object can help draw us out of our anxiety or other distracting thoughts. Here’s a great description of the process.

Lie and Be Still

Ask your student to lie down on the floor and close their eyes. Time slow, deep breaths of 10 seconds in and then breathe out for 10. 

Tune In

Sometimes the hardest distractions come while we’re playing. Learning to focus on the sensations under your fingertips and the quality of each note is a great way to shift your mindset during a performance. 

You can start by practising this pre-performance with simple technical exercises, then build up to using it during longer pieces.

You can find more of my thoughts about mindfulness and other practice tips on my hub page devoted to Teaching Piano Practice.

Meditation Opportunities for Music Teachers & Students

Encourage piano students to practise meditation in addition to piano body exercises as additional tools to help them play mindfully.

Lesson Routine

A short meditation would be great to include as part of your standard warmup routine. Students can also draw from this in moments they feel anxious or overstimulated later in the lesson and in their practice.

Exams and Performances

In the lead-up to special events, practise a few different meditation exercises with your student. See which ones they find most helpful and have them do them directly before the exam or performance.

Zoning Out

Studies have shown that musicians get many of the same benefits from playing as regular meditators do from their meditation practice. Improvisation and the tune-in technique I mentioned above can be great ways to de-stress from a long day and feel like yourself again.

Home Practice 

Meditation is a powerful way to reduce anxiety and to be connected to the present moment. That’s often even more useful at home when there are so many distractions around. 

Talk to your piano parents about the relaxation exercises you’re doing in the lessons. Assign the meditation exercises to your music students as part of their home practice if you think it would help them.

Group Lessons

Meditation is a great way to calm an over-excited class; to control the stimulation level. Encouraging a class to get still and quiet can be a great way to calm an overstimulated class.

Flow and Tell and Shake it Off are two great exercises to try with groups from Berklee’s Greater Good in Education initiative.

Your One Thing.

Try just one of these meditation and mindfulness exercises. Notice how you feel before and after.

Do you use meditation in your music teaching studio?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below. 🙂

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