Becoming a true musical artist is a goal of thousands if not millions of people around the world. Artists are musicians that live and breathe musical expression beyond simple notes and rhythms. As educators, we can choose to provide our students with the tools to be artists.
Take a moment and think of a musical piece you are working on. In your head now imagine and follow one of the “moving” melodic lines. Can you hear yourself singing the exact contour of the line? Can you match the style and timbre? Hopefully, you can. Now sing what you hear in your head. How close does your voice match up with what is in your head?
This idea of being able to imagine and hear the music in your head prior to singing it out loud is called “Audiation.” This concept is the idea of being able to understand and comprehend music when it is not present or being performed. Researcher Edwin E. Gordon, of the Gordon Institute of Learning, identifies that people are fully capable of audiating all aspects of sound. This would include melody, pitch, harmony, timbre, rhythm and more.
“Think it, Sing it, Play it”
Musicians gain a greater understanding of music through audiation. One helpful acronym used in this practice is called
TSP. It stands for “Think it, Sing it, Play it.” This sort of practice should be used regularly if you would want to maximize sound development results.
Ideally, like any other instructional scenario, teachers should focus on one or two musical components when having students use TSP. If you have a student spread their focus too much they will not be able to enter deep practice. This is the state of mind where the brain has the ability to produce myelin and helps students create neurologically strong pathways in the brain.
Not all musicians are singers but using TSP, consequently, is a practice strategy that will require the individual to be confident in their singing expression. Ask questions such as, “am I performing this melodic line exacting how I heard it in my head” or, “is this the characteristic sound I want to produce for this piece,” are appropriate assessment criteria when using TSP.
The final component of TSP is to “Play it.” The practice strategy should be with the end result in mind. The audience doesn’t care what is written in your music. They care about the aesthetic response they receive as a result of the expressive performance heard.
In conclusion, I hope you find value in this practice strategy. Most of all, use TSP in rehearsals and students can be swayed to use it in their personal practice time. This is but one of many different practice strategies that may be used to sharpen skills of musical artists and performers.