Playful learners learn faster, surprise surprise

Perhaps the major inhibitor of creativity is too much activity in our prefrontal cortex (nerd alert!) – the part of our brain used for analysing. Let’s be honest folks it’s a very important part of the brain that deserves due credit, but if we linger there during what is meant to be a creative experience or process we may find ourselves in a deeply discontented place.

CUE the perfectionists! THIS is totally all about you. YOU GOT TO SHUT THAT THING UP! I mean it. You can’t change who you inherently are, but if you’re looking at being creative, you must silence that inner critic, perhaps you should become “playful learners”?

At the very core of creativity you must explore and be totally open and embracing of imperfection (whatever that is?) Have you perfectionists ever released your inner goofball when you’re practising? (Relax – I’m not asking you to do this in public… yet!) record yourself being DELIBERATELY playful and experimental in your singing. There are NO rules. You can do this with a made up song or chant, or take a song you know really well and totally messs it up – melody, sounds, grunts, groans, rhythm and even words.

In my studio I take humour and playfulness seriously (is that an oxymoron?). When someone has an issue with an aspect of their voice I often rely on experiment and play as part of the process, especially when my “go to”approaches are not working. Experimenting with sounds and ideas outside of my usual approach keep both me and my students on our toes. The outcomes are often positive, but when they are not it’s important to not meet them with stern judgement and analysis. Sometimes simply laughing and moving on creates the scene for greater creativity and development.

I close this post by admitting that I have the wiring for deep analysis. This has both helped and hindered me as a creative being. Never more did this come to haunt me as it did after my vocal injury and surgery. That inner critic is an SOB (excuse me!)  and serves no other purpose than to slam my creative and expressive side. I believe this is why I can write this post. I identify intimately with the perfectionist, the analyst, the critic. To keep them quiet I have to consciously exercise my playful inner child, my joy, my creative self. This is not default, it’s deliberate and intentional. The next time you practice, make an artistic choice or even hear yourself approach it as a “playful learner” – don’t judge, just allow yourself to express and be kind and gentle with your self talk as you would a child.