When we think of our imagination, I would hazard a guess that the first thought that comes to mind, is the ability to create a story, or a narrative. We are home alone on a cold night, hear the wind through the window, and all of a sudden, we imagine we are in a scary movie. What boogie man could be lurking behind the darkened corner? Or perhaps, we think of our future, we imagine the milestones or special events on the near horizon. The idea of how we will feel at the birth of our first child, graduation from school, or party in our honour.
We use our imaginations throughout the day in both our present state and when we are thinking about the future. In performance, whether it is music performance or job performance, we can use our imaginations to set goals. This is a form of cognitive behaviour therapy where what we tell ourselves in the process of visualizing our goals becomes the inner dialogue that will help us on the road to success. So if we tell ourselves that we are going to get that job promotion, we become happier at work, more focused, more driven, and when the payoff is received, we are validated in this positive reaffirmation practice. Even if the job promotion isn’t achieved, there are numerous benefits to this practice, for we become focused and our inner self becomes our own personal cheer squad.
We use our imaginations in the creation of music too. Take for example singing. When we want to sing a certain note, where does it come from? We can’t press a key to make that sound. We may hear our note from the piano, or another voice, but in order to produce that sound, we have to make it conscious. We have to imagine the sound. How we imagine the sound will determine its quality, intonation, and placement. It becomes pretty important that we develop our imaginations to the highest degree and fast, otherwise those quick passages may have a lot of problems.
Every instrument requires the use of imagination, not just the voice. How we touch the piano has an effect on its quality of sound. We can use many images to find that sound. Whether it be a memory recall of how to touch something or even an association with something seemingly unrelated, such as imagining the brass section in the orchestra for a passage that is inspired by horn calls.
When you stop to think about how amazing our imaginations truly are, it also makes practice worth all of the energy and effort. Whatever your goal, so long as you continue to develop your technique and facility at your instrument, lies within your imagination. If you can hear the sound you want to make, it is only a matter of time before its execution becomes as quick and seamless as what we have the ability to inner feel and imagine.