Mindfulness for Singers (MfS)
MfS 8-week Course
Week 1: Present Moment
After a course introduction, there is a discussion about the definitions of mindfulness followed by the concept of what it is to be on autopilot. Participants are introduced to mindfulness of breathing and mindful movement. They are encouraged to choose a habit to be aware of during the week.
Mindful Movement MP3
Week 2: Body and mind
This session starts with a talk about musicians’ lives, good aspects and stressful aspects. Participants learn about brain evolution and the somaethetic body/mind link. There is a talk about expectation and reality of doing mindfulness and an introduction to the concept of“being” and“doing” modes. The new mindfulness exercise introduced this week is the body scan.
Body Scan Introduction MP3
Body Scan Meditation MP3
Habit awareness (a new one this week).
Alternate experience of singing or playing in "being and doing" modes.
Week 3: Suffering
This week participants consider the usage of necessary and unnecessary muscles and do some mindful yoga. There is a discussion about music performance anxiety and a connection to the mindfulness concept of primary and secondary suffering. There is also a discussion about our daily experience of life as either pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. Participants learn the mindful breathing journey and mindful counting exercises this week.
Mindful Breathing Journey MP3.
Mindful Breathing Counting MP3
Drop into your experiences throughout the week and categorise them as pleasant, unpleasant or neutral
Week 4: Perception
This week includes a talk about sensory perceptions (visual/aural etc) and cognitive perception (judging/criticising etc). Participants take part in a mindful eating exercise and a mindful listening meditation.
Mindful Listening MP3
- Listen to music mindfully (in lectures/at home/concerts)
- Eat one meal a day mindfully aware of each mouthful.
- Listen to a friend or family member talking as mindfully as possible
Week 5: Widening awareness
This week, participants learn to widen their present moment awareness physically doing mindful walking exercises and mentally doing loving kindness and sounds and thoughts practices
Sounds and Thoughts MP3
Mindful Walking:One (or more) walk/s a day done mindfully. Be aware of surroundings and self.
Week 6: Exploring difficulties
Participants learn about the pillars of mindfulness, consider mental orientation and mindful choices this week and do preparation for next week’s performance session. Then they try out the new mindfulness exercise this week which is Exploring Difficulties.
Help in case difficulties arise:
Exploring Difficulties MP3
Loving Kindness MP3
Please mindfully prepare a 2-3 unaccompanied piece to sing or play for the following week.
Week 7: Performance Week
Week 7 is unique to the MfS course where participants are able to use all the mindfulness techniques learnt in the previous few weeks in a highly targeted manner during a singing performance workshop. Where teaching and experiences in the other weeks was targeted towards both singing and daily life, this week’s session is purely dedicated to mindfulness for participants as singers.
After the normal question and answer session at the beginning of the session, participants, many of them feeling nervous, are taken through the Breathing Journey, Breathing Counting, a sitting Body Scan, and some Mindful Movement to test these various exercises on pre-performance nerves. Participants pull coloured stones out of a bag before each individual performance slot to determine by chance if they would sing next. Each performer is asked to stay in the moment as much as possible when performing, audience members are asked to stay in the moment as much as possible when listening. After each individual performance, audience participants are asked to give constructive critical feedback. The performing participant is again reminded to stay as much in the present moment when listening to the criticism in order to accept and mindfully hear all the feedback. Performances and criticisms are recorded and disseminated to each participant after the session so that they can listen and see if their memory matched the reality. Audience members are also asked to see if they can tell if and when the performer was in the present moment. This is then correlated with the performer’s self-reported experience. At the end, the journal and the final hand-out are distributed. The weekly 10-minute formal practice is to be chosen by participants from the previous 7 weeks’ experience, and their informal practice is also their choice. They are also encouraged to search for other recommended sources of mindfulness practices, such as on the Internet and YouTube.
Handout: Mindfulness and more
Choose your practices yourselves - maybe do one each day?
1. Mindful movement
2. Body scan
3. Mindful breathing journey
4. Mindful breathing counting
5. Sounds and thoughts
6. Exploring difficulties.
7. Loving Kindness
Drop into your experience at regular times each day (reminder on phone/watch?) and observe physical sensations and mental thought processes. Log how they change.
Week 8: Summary
Conclusion and a brief recapitulation of all that has been learnt.
Summary and recap. Participants do the“nourishing and depleting” exercise. Mindfulness exercises are mindful breathing and body scan. They may also be asked to complete a mindfulness questionnaire.
What’s now for you?
This course’s development has been heavily influenced by the "Mindfulness for Pain and Illness" course (Vidyamala Burch), Jon Kabat-Zinn’s "Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction" course, and the “Mindfulness: Finding peace in a frantic world” book/course by Mark Williams and Danny Penman.This book is the recommended text book for this course.