Do you sometimes wish you could practice when you don’t have your instrument at hand?
If so, it turns out you can!
The secret lies in audiation. You may not have ever heard the term before but I guarantee you’ve used it before.
So read on to find out the things you ought to know about audiation.
What is audiation?
The term audiation was coined in 1986 by music educator Edwin Gordon.
Audiation takes place when we perceive or comprehend music that is not present. Either we heard it previously or never at all.
In essence, we are audiating whenever we are hearing music internally – in our heads.
Audiation is to music what thinking is to language or visualising is to imagery.
Why is audiation useful to musicians?
Some music educators (myself included) consider audiation to be at the core of being a great musician.
Just as a vivid visual imagination is necessary to be a creative artist, a vivid musical imagination is necessary to be a creative musician.
The clearer we can audiate (or imagine) the music we wish to create, the better equipped we are to bring that music into the world full of expression and meaning.
How can you improve your audiation?
Luckily, you can practice audiation just like you practice your instrument.
When you’re listening to music, listen closely and try to commit as many details to memory as you can. Start with melodies but also listen closely to timbre, texture, rhythm, harmony and anything else you pick up on.
Then try to reimagine everything you just heard.
You can listen to a passage and then press pause. Or you can listen to a passage a few times through, then start turning the volume down to 0 for a few measure at a time to let your imagination take over.
To keep working on it, simply try to reimagine any of that music as vividly as you can whenever you get a chance. Back when I was in college I would do it during lectures if I didn’t find them interesting.
It may feel a little silly at first, but as you practice this you’ll start to see that you’re able to recreate the music you listen to with more detail and your musicianship will improve as a result!