Riva Capellari

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Located in Brookside in the heart of Kansas City

Mindfulness vs. Multitasking

Is the concept of “mindfulness” just another  trendy word for something that has been around for awhile and needed a new moniker to catch our interest? So what is it?  Simply put: being aware, paying attention.  In other words, doing more than “just showing up”.

Mindfulness can lead to memory making which can eventually translate into learning. In order to create a consistent neural trace in our brains, we must pay attention to (target) what we want to remember – a piece of information, a new skill. Repeated attention-memory cycles, become something learned, i.e., the repeated “firing” (attention) of our neurons, results in a stronger “wiring” (memory to learning) in our brains.

So what is the effect of multitasking on this attention-memory strategy?

Some Yale graduate students thought they excelled at multitasking. Studies, however, proved them wrong. What they found was that in trying to do many things simultaneously, their brains were unable to filter out irrelevant information while at the same time, keeping all incoming data organized in their brains. They spent more time concentrating on concentrating, than on the information itself.

What else did they discover? In the struggle to keep things separated and properly categorized, the students experienced increased stress hormone levels and lost time while their brains switched between tasks.

Singing is a complex skill. A successful vocal performance is made up of many factors: vocal technique, musical elements (pitch, timing, etc), languages, poetry and generally, involves strong emotional content to be communicated to the audience. Each of these components demands singular attention. The experience of working through them individually over a period of time actually causes physiological changes to our neural pathways (memory) that then become automatic (learning) when we perform.

So instead of trying to do several things at once, liken your thought process to a slow, quiet walk in nature (better yet, do it!). Carve out both time and mental space to absorb experiences and ideas and allow new thoughts and even new skills, to surface and evolve. Be alert to the moment by moment sensations instead of bombarding your brain with too much stuff at one time.


Helding, Lynn. Choosing Attention & The Multitasking Monster. Journal of Singing, Vol 68, #3 & #4, 2012.

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