Mirror, Mirror in the Brain; or Monkey See, Monkey Do

“You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul.” George Bernard Shaw Pretend that you’re a budding jazz guitar player. You’ve been practicing for a year or two so you’re beginning to have an idea of how it’s done and what you need to do to…

Cover Yourself: Why You Should Copy Your Musical Heroes

Music, like many things, is best learned through imitation. By recreating the sounds you love, you’re literally embodying that knowledge. Owning it. It doesn’t matter if it’s Bach, Beastie Boys, or Benny Golson, figuring out and recreating your favorite tunes is what every single one of the best musicians you’ve heard do in the quest to become a great musician.

Our brains are literally wired for imitation. I’m talking about the mirror neuron system a topic that’s covered in detail in The Practice of Practice.

Here are a few performances by Kawehi, covering Nirvana’s Heart-Shaped Box, Michael Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel, and a couple others interesting musical inventions.

Live Music is Best: New Study

Live music is best, for too many reasons to list. But as far as practice is concerned, when you see somebody play your instrument in front of you, your brain lights up in almost the exact same way as the performing musician. It’s called the mirror neuron system, a topic I’ve written about many times. Below is…

Plays Well With Others: Group Practice

All of last week I was immersed in practice in all its various guises and all but 30 minutes of it was in group practice. Here are a few suggestions from my latest book, “The Practice of Practice,” to keep in mind when you’re practicing with somebody else. They’re either questions you can ask directly, if it’s appropriate (often it’s not), or questions to keep in mind as you’re listening to those you’re practicing with.

Book Extras

  Nearly every chapter in the book has links to more information: images, videos, books, gadgets, research articles, and more. Below is the full list of these extras. If you’re interested in the research references used in the book, here they are. Dead links will be replaced as soon as I learn about them. If you spot…

Live Music is Best: U2’s 360 Show in Chicago

Usually, our experience of music is very abstract. It’s coherent sound coming out of a speaker, with no visuals of those who made the music, and not only that but the actual event of making the music is in the past, sometimes the distant past. This is why live music of any kind is such a powerful and necessary thing for your own music. To see live bodies in a room (or stadium) with you, making music, breathes life into what it means to make music. The art becomes real, palpably so, and takes on a resonance and meaning that goes well beyond a recording…