The Importance of Peripheral "Thinking" for Singers and Everyone Else... (For That Matter)

You are obviously familiar with the term "peripheral vision". Every driver knows that if they don't exercise their peripheral vision they might get into trouble, as when you're driving you have to watch front, back, left and right. It is that level of attention that will help you avoid an accident because you can catch an unexpected object racing at you with just the corner of your eye. Personally, I encountered that situation not too long ago... Needless to say, if it were not for my active use of peripheral vision, I would not be writing this blog now.

Along a similar vein, while running a number of vocal workshops and seminars over the last close to four decades, I have learned that when conducting a large group of people, I had to mastermind a skill allowing me to be able to see all of my participants at once in order not to lose their attention while I was engaged with them on a subject. In the context of sports; For example, hockey players cannot play their game well and, undoubtedly, can suffer an injury if they are not actively engaging their peripheral vision while playing. I could refer you to the movie "The Cutting Edge" where that precedent happened with a top hockey player who was loving to be on the ice so much that, in the final analysis, he chose to become a figure skater in order to keep skating after he suffered an injury which permanently affected his peripheral vision. Needless to say that without peripheral vision, there is no way to react in time to a high-speed hockey puck moving rapidly towards the hockey player. 

Speaking of music, for example, the piano player (or any other instrument player for that matter) has to always be looking at least one bar ahead with the corner of their eye. And finally, a singer has to anticipate what is coming to him/her next in a song, thinking of how to prepare and place their voice in the proper facial cavities, so that they would be able to achieve the desired sonic outcome. The above, evidently, requires not only peripheral vision, but also peripheral thinking.

A performer should think ahead and quickly respond to changes in note height and especially notes that challenge their natural or developed (via intense proper training) range - high or low. If the singer is only concerned with what is happening in the present moment, they are very likely to falter in their application of trained technique, ultimately resulting in false notes and/or vocal cracks, obviously causing inconsistency in their vocal performance. So, the use of "peripheral thinking", like peripheral vision, is a skill in itself that needs to be developed along with vocal technique, vocal performance and vocal style.

This was especially true for one particular case which happened to be under my care. There was a young and promising female singer who was good at executing certain places/pieces in a song, but was experiencing difficulties connecting all the pieces and parts together. She was failing to think forward and, thus, was not preparing appropriately for the upcoming vocal challenges coming to her in the song. Depending on the natural abilities of the singer perfecting this type of coordination, the above-described could take a considerable amount of time, effort and training. Luckily, it did happen eventually with that singer whose determination had definitely paid off. In fact, she, at the present time, is working with high-end songwriters and producers, getting well on her way to obtaining a record deal like many of my other clients. As such, my experience in working with this singer and helping her to overcome her challenges is that what inspired me (even more) to start sharing the concept of "peripheral thinking" and later on to share this blog with you, my reader.

The conclusion of it is: "Stay in the moment, but anticipate what could, may or will happen next and thus, act accordingly"
That will help you keep, not only your vocal pieces together, but will help to maintain your life intact in general!

Diana Yampolsky is the Master Vocal Coach, In-Studio Vocal Producer, and Non-Surgical Voice Repair Specialist at The Royans Professional Vocal School located in Toronto, Canada and Worldwide. She is also the creator of the Vocal Science (TM) method and Talent Scout & Director for the 4 A.M. Talent Development and Artist Management Group Inc.
If you find yourself struggling with vocal technique; are looking for assistance in the studio or are in need of voice/vocal repair, you can reach Diana Yampolsky by email at or by phone at 416-857-8741 


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