Oct 06, 2016
When making changes in your body alignment or vocal technique, it can be helpful to use what I call "Silent Practice," which is really using visualization to create helpful muscle memory patterns. Without the distraction of the sound (which you are usually judging, which means you are looking backward at something that already happened and cannot now be changed, instead of focusing your concentration on what you are doing), you can achieve a much more precise control of what you are practicing.
Silent Practice enables you to practice more perfectly the release and alignment that brings a freer sound, because you are not distracted by the sound of your own voice. This type of visualization is not a passive, generic re-creation of what it feels like when you speak or sing. Rather, it is a very precise, mentally active exercise, which forces you to be very clear about what you DO to prepare each phrase. (See my blog post "Do the DO.")
Studies show that your body and brain cannot tell the difference between real and imagined experience, if the imagined experience is strong and specific. If there is a stick in the road in front of you, and you genuinely imagine it to be a snake, your body and brain will react swiftly and strongly. The fact that there is no snake there makes no difference whatsoever. The same is true in Silent Practice. When you repeat a physical action in the same way over and over, following the same neurological connections, a substance called myelin wraps around the connections. The more you repeat the same specific action, the thicker the myelin becomes. Studies have shown that, in active visualization, the myelin wraps around the nerve connections, just as if you were doing it with your body. I believe that If you can find that kind of active "imagining" about your speaking and singing, you will find Silent Practice a very valuable tool.