Mindful Music Exercise: Follow The Instrument

Brief Description/Purpose

Great exercise to do on one's own or in a group that highlights some of the difficulties, but also the fun in being mindful, in this case with music. This can also be used as a great energizer for courses on other topics since it provides a different kind of brain activity.



Age Appropriate

Teens, Adults

Ideal Group Size

Any. Can be done one on one, by oneself, or in very large groups.

Time For Exercise

5 minutes to 30 minutes depending on the debriefs



Detailed Instructions If Needed

If leading a group you'll need some music you can play so everyone can hear. Select something that isn't too simple and has at least 6 different instruments in it. 

Instructions To The Listeners:

Often we don't really listen to music, and so we lose a lot of the pleasure that comes from it. This exercise will help us practice listening and focusing.

I'm going to play a musical piece for you. Your task is to identify ONE instrument (guitar, piano) and try to follow it and it only. Try not to analyse it verbally, but just listen to it.

Debrief Questions:

  • Did you find this hard to do?
  • Did it get more difficult or easier as time went on?
  • Did other thoughts pop into your head as you tried to listen?

Bring out the point that our brains are unruly, and that thoughts will pop in to distract from listening.

Explain that when that happens, to gently identify the thought (i.e. I'm having a thought), and gently return the attention back to the instrument.

Then do the exercise again with a different piece of music.