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How to understand your musical mind

Updated: Dec 9, 2022

Understanding just how your mind works is half way to getting your mind to work for you.

The other half is 'doing'.


Our minds are programmed to function a certain way after years of development. We're talking 200,000 years for the modern man. But the modern man's predecessor the 'upright man' who it's believed to have lived over 1 million years ago makes up a fantastic amount of years for our genome (sets of genes) to have been 'cooking'.

Suffice to say...our minds have been programming for a long time and they are programmed to work in a certain way based on our life habits.

We all know about the fight or flight mindset – modern day stress- this has originated from those olden days of having to fight or run for it in order to stay alive.

Today I'm going to show you how our minds work and how, as musicians, you can use this knowledge to stay in the right mind set to have a successful career in the Music Industry today.

The Mind v. The Brain

Our brains have 3 sections (front, middle and back), that carry out our different bodily functions, but the mind is a whole different ball game.

Scientists are still struggling with the mind versus the brain and how it functions, as it is not something that you can see under a microscope.

For example, our brains are estimated to contain about 100 trillion atoms. And scientists cannot completely understand how atoms function. I have given you a link below to one of my favourite demonstrations of the Double Slit Experiment explained by Jim Al-Khalili. Please watch the video to the end as it will change your life!

My point being, scientists cannot explain how our minds work outside of our brains.

So your brains have 3 parts, but how many parts does your mind have?

Nobody knows for definite yet.

Your Conscious and Sub Conscious Minds

Today, however, I am going to ask you to think of your mind as having 2 parts. The Conscious and the Subconscious.

The conscious mind is what I call your 'academic' mind. In other words, the one where you decide what you're going to eat, wear and do from one moment to the next. Or the one who plans a vacation and books the right flights. Or the one that works out mathematical problems. However, the Continuous Flash Suppression Test disproves this! But it does use flashing lights to trick us!!)

The subconscious mind deals with our automatic responses to things like driving a car, walking, talking and so on. The things we've 'practiced in' or the things which we instinctively know, like breathing.

If I were to ask you say how powerful these two minds are in relation to each other what would you say?

  • Conscious mind 80%

  • Subconscious mind 20%


  • Conscious mind 95%

  • Subconscious mind 5%

Or maybe

  • Conscious mind 60%

  • Subconscious mind 40%

The answer is, sorry about this, but no one knows.

It is at least

Conscious mind 5%

Subconscious mind 95%

So now that you know you're subconscious mind is more powerful.

Think of what you know about every subject in the universe – which is singular (i.e. What you know)- v what Google knows – (which is collective!) and now understand that your conscious mind is singular and your sub conscious mind is collective.

In other words, when your subconscious mind is working perfectly and clearly it is indeed linked to a higher energy source that is more powerful than anyone knows or understands. But it is understood that it exists.

Even by most scientists.

My favourite excerpts from a Ghandi speech:

It is only 1:30 so do take time to listen.

So whether this power is what we call God, or whether it has no name tag, there is a power and you may call it whatever makes you feel less freaked!


As a human, and especially as a musician you will need this power to help you live your best life. And I'm going to show you how.

How Our Minds Work

Our 'academic' mind loves to learn and hold information. It then passes onwards to the SubConscious mind to become automatic.

The subconscious mind never questions this information. It just accepts it, and puts it into action.

For example, as a child this is how you learned to speak, eat, walk and so on. You were given the information by your elders and you unquestionably and in small amounts of information at time, educated your subconscious mind to instruct your brain what to do and when to do it. It's so amazing.

You're so amazing.

Anyway, the absolute best and quickest way to instruct your subconscious mind is to do so in little bite sized pieces of information.


It may take years for your mind to get its act together (for example learning to speak from a baby). It may take much less time, (like riding a bike). But one thing is for certain. It does take time.

You have to be patient and persistent

When should I 'Instruct' my mind?

So you may ask me, but when should my conscious mind 'instruct' my subconscious mind, and how on earth do I do it?

Let's start with 'when'.

Some of you may already know the answer, but for those of you who don't, the best time to get the subconscious mind to work is when your conscious mind has quietened.

There are two times when this happens:

  1. When we are asleep.

  2. During a good meditation session.

I would recommend both times. Last thing before you go to sleep and just before you meditate...And I'm hoping you do meditate as a musician. If not, then please start today!

I want you to imagine a computer screen. You have lots of sites, pages, and apps open when you're working and at night, when you close down, you should close all your files down properly and save everything so that your work is not lost and your computer stays healthy.

Your mind is much the same, you need to close everything down and file everything away, to stay healthy. So in order to file things away, your mind has to go over it first. When we go to sleep, everything that has happened during the day is being processed by our minds. What we did, what we said, where we went and so on.

That is why if something upset you when you during the day, you might find suddenly awake in the middle of the night worrying and stressing. This is perhaps because your mind was having difficulty processing what ever it was that upset you.

That's why it's good idea not to go to sleep with an upsetting thought rolling around in your head!

Talking it through or making a plan of action before sleep is often a good idea. Or telling yourself you'll 'sleep on it' works too, for the very reason that I'm about to explain.

When you hand over your ideas, problems, and thoughts to your subconscious s mind, you are trusting in this power house. And when you trust and let it work as it should, you will get the results you want.

Okay, so, as your mind is going through the day, it will come to what you thought about just before you went to sleep. It will process this information without question and digest it. It will absorb it.

When you wake up, it would be brilliant if you could repeat your last thoughts out loud to reiterate those thoughts on your still receptive and calm mind.

The same goes for your meditation. Think your desired thoughts just before and just after your meditation session.

Just try this process for one week. Then let me know how you get on.

The Man Who Knew is an excellent film that indirectly proves this theory. It is a film about the Indian Mathematician genius Srinivasa Ramanujan. Here's a link to the trailer.

How should I 'Instruct' my mind?

I created what I call the Musician's Mantra.It is proven, and easy to do. You should say this either out loud or in your mind. I prefer out loud although I used to feel a bit silly at first!

There are 10 things for you to do and say. You have to do the Musician's Mantra every day for just a week for it to work. Be sitting or lying down. You could even be in bed which would be the most perfect idea. Ready for sleep.

  1. Close your eyes and take 3 slow 'singer' breaths in for three counts and out for four .

  2. Smile. (it might feel awkward at first but persevere)

  3. I am so excited to be performing tonight.

  4. I am giving thanks to everyone and everything around me every time I perform as I know how lucky I am to be making music.

  5. Take one slow singing breath while smiling.

  6. I am imagining myself confident and brilliant on stage.

  7. That moment when I sing those top notes so easily makes me smile.

  8. Everyone around me is 'as one' and this gives me such a huge feeling of absolute joy.

  9. I am so grateful to everyone who has helped me on this journey.

  10. Take one slow singing breath while smiling.

So as you can see I have used my words here, and my words are not your words. They won't have the same effect for you. Using 'brilliant' or 'joy' might not be the way you talk, and it should be. It is your mantra and will work for you. So feel free to change it wherever you like.

Also, you can change it for different things you may have coming up. Like an audition, rather than a performance. Or dealing with nerves. Or wanting to do well in a certain passage of music that's been causing you stress.

You can even use it for 'real' life too. I once used it to buy a flat in London!

  1. Close your eyes and take 3 slow 'singer' breaths in for three counts and out for four.

  2. Smile. (it might feel awkward at first but persevere)

  3. I am so excited to_________________________________________________________________

  4. I am giving thanks to everyone and everything around me every time I perform as I know how lucky I am to be making music.

  5. Take one slow singing breath while smiling.

  6. I am imagining myself_____________________________________________________________

  7. That moment when________________________________________________________________

  8. Everyone around me is as-one and this gives me such a feeling of________________

  9. I am so grateful to_________________________________________________________________

  10. Take one slow singing breath while smiling.

Below is a template that I have created for you to edit and change for your own use. You could have it on your phone or whatever you want, even just written out on a sheet of paper.

Musician's Mantra
Download PDF • 2.67MB

Watch the short video here.


So there you have it.

Your mind is your most powerful tool.

Use it with respect and wisely.

Remember little and often is the game changer here.

A regular, consistent and articulate mantra, using powerful words that evoke strong images for you is the key to it all.

I wish you all success xx

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