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Deliberate Practice vs Intentional Practice, and how you can have your own Patronus Charm

deliberatepractice happypracticing intentionalpractice positiveemotionalsignature sparkpes Aug 27, 2022

What’s the difference between Intentional Practice and Deliberate Practice?

They start in the same place.

The theory of deliberate practice emphasizes, in the pursuit of expertise, quality over quantity of experiences and values the student's holistic ability to process, and integrate improvements in targeted skills (Ericsson et al., 1993).

It’s amazing. It helps us understand that we can have an influence on our brains through neuroplasticity. But Intentional Practice takes it a step further. When we work in an efficient way through targeted strategies, we get better faster by laying better neural pathways. When we bring in intention, the quality of those connections and pathways improves further, increasing integration, confidence, and consistent, sustainable excellence. 

Intentional Practice adds two major elements to Deliberate Practice :

1/ Intention as a guide. Having an overarching direction helps us stay on track and go further. It also helps us maintain progress and keeps us moving towards our goals on days it feels difficult. Intention is the precursor to motivation. 

2/ Positive Emotional Signatures
Research shows that when learning in a context of “fun” or “play,” we learn faster, need fewer repetitions, and have better integration & retrieval. One of the best ways to deal with stress (our mind trying to protect us from danger) is to associate positive emotions with actions in our preparation (simple or complex) through visualization and mental practice. When we associate positive emotions with actions, we are more able to recognize and deal with uninvited nerves / stress, because our nervous system knows that not only we are actually safe, and that we physically and emotionally enjoy what we’re doing. 

Positive Emotional Signatures are an essential step towards neurological security onstage.

Impact of the SPARK Practice Positive Emotional Signature

  • Because of neuroplasticity, we can have an influence on our brain with intentional practice. This means that we can “change our brain” with our thoughts!
  • Our thoughts are just patterns of habits, and with Intentional practice, we can rewire our brain habits.
  • ”Change your thoughts - change your life” is something we hear often in neuroscience-informed learning. In this case it’s “change your thoughts - change your playing!”
  • With the Positive Emotional Signature, we create an environment for ourselves to feel safe - even in stressful situations - which leads to better practice AND better performances.
  • Check out the SPARK Practice Positive Emotional Signatures Workshop to learn how to use the PES, with downloads and exercises to put into place today! But in the mean time, here are the steps to follow:

How to use the SPARK Practice Positive Emotional Signature

  • This is similar to the Patronus Charm in Harry Potter, in that we are creating an emotional environment that we feel safe in and in which we can play & perform freely.
  • How the PES works
  1. Choose a “feeling” memory - pick a memory that has a strong feeling of safety
  2. Creating emotional environment: 5 senses - fill your body with the feeling of safety. Use your 5 senses to make this feeling as rich and real as possible, from the smell and temperature of the air, to how your clothes feel on your skin, to the warm feeling from your heart all the way to your toes.
  3. Streamline / Positive Trigger exercise - Now, find a little movement that you can do discretely to build into your PES as a “positive trigger”. This could be a nose wiggle, slightly bending your knees, making a ring with your pinky & thumb, whatever. This will become the action you take as a positive trigger to then call in your PES Patronus 
  4. On / Off Instrument training - You can practice both the positive trigger AND calling in your PES Patronus at any moment. Try it in line at the grocery store, just before going to bed, during rehearsal - anywhere and everywhere!
  5. Bogart training : Identify your triggers - What moves you out of safe mode into stress mode? What feels triggering to you? It could be big (someone says something mean, or the presence of someone scary), or small (a perceived eye roll, etc). There is no judgement here - we are all very sensitive to the environment around us - that’s part of what makes you a great musician. 
  6. PES When it Counts - it’s go time! With Intentional Practice, you can “conjure” your PES Patronus any time. With practice, it will become easier & faster to feel and to trust when it counts. Let yourself develop internal trust gently - you need to KNOW that you can count on it - and building your nervous system takes some time and practice.
  7. You’ve got this! And I’ve got you - every step of the way. Visit the Positive Emotional Signatures Workshop to learn how to put this into practice.

Want to work on your PES & your intentional practice? I help students of all ages and playing levels find their spark, beat the overwhelm, and feel great on stage. Book a Practice Boost here:

⚡️SPARK Practice is the Intentional Practice System for confidence onstage and in the practice room. SPARK Practice, your best friend in the practice room. 

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