Learning Music Like Learning Language: Victor Wooten

ABSOLUTELY! Victor Wooten speaks wisdom. Our approach to teaching music (often sight before sound) is backwards. Listen to Victor! Wooten’s book, The Music Lesson is pretty good, too. Like if Carlos Casteneda learned music from Don Juan instead of magic.

Dave Grohl’s Guide to Kick A**

Dave Grohl needs no introduction. Even if you know him, you really should watch Sound City, a great documentary about a legendary music studio. In the doc you’ll see a bit of Grohl, but lots and lots of other superb musicians, too. Video below the tips.

2nd Place is the First Loser?

Here’s what a loser sounds like:[video]

Of course I’m being sarcastic. This is a wonderful performance by 12-year-old So0-Yen Lee-Wieniawaski.

The 10,000-hour Red Herring

You’ve all heard it by now: all the talk and focus on the 10,000 hour “rule,” from people like Malcolm Gladwell, and the researcher who originally published the study with the finding, Anders Ericsson, whose theories are not without opposition in the academic world. If you haven’t heard of this finding by researchers Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-Romer yet, it goes like this: it takes 10,000 hours of practice to reach expert-level performance, whether it’s in sports, music, chess, or x-ray diagnostics. But the 10,000-hour rule is a red herring for several reasons.

Samskar, Chicken Embryos, and Places of Practice

Zing-Yang Kuo was a biologist who was interested in investigating behaviors that were thought to be instinctual, or innate (his early research on this topic was in the 1920s). He studied chicken embryos, because it was believed the distinctive pecking behavior chicks show immediately upon hatching was an instincutual, innate behavior. Zing-Yang Kuo believed that labeling a behavior as “innate” or “natural” or “instinctual” didn’t help anyone understand the behavior. He watched chicken embryos develop by coating eggs with warm vaseline, rendering the shells translucent. And here’s the thing:

First Video of A Thought in the Brain

I often post about brain-related issues and music practice. This video is more general than usual, but I present it to you because of its interesting uniqueness. The first video footage of a thought sparking through neurons (the video says it’s 3x normal speed). Details about the process here.

This made me think about a few things: How were those neurons and the connections “built” or grown? Is a firing of neurons really a thought? What is a thought?

Annoying the Neighbors: Place and Practice

Ever since I picked up the trumpet, practice has been a never-ending search for privacy. Mostly a failed search, too. When I was a kid learning to play, my parents banished me to the garage, and this was a great thing, even though the garage was unheated and we lived in Alaska. It gave me a space to explore without fear of annoying the hell out of anyone within earshot. It also let me escape fear of judgment and gave me the freedom to really explore the instrument and my relationship with it. Now I live in Chicago. No garage. Not even a house. I’m in an apartment and have neighbors on five sides.

The Habit of Motivation and Barking Against the Bad

Every moment of one’s existence one is growing into more or retreating into less.
~Norman Mailer (1923 – 2007)

If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down.
~Mary Pickford (1893-1979)

Plumbing the depths of motivation is a long unending process. Previous posts in this blog contain other aspects of motivation, including some theories about why we persist in difficult tasks. Today I want to shoot from the hip and talk about my own informal experience with and opinions about motivation. No theory. No rigorously tested hypotheses beyond those done subconsciously or haphazardly. Just two things that are on my mind.

Remember Your Thrills On Blueberry Hills

Turns out drinking blueberries boosts memory and improves learning. A recent study from the American Chemical Society said that, “These preliminary memory findings are encouraging and suggest that consistent supplementation with blueberries may offer an approach to forestall or mitigate neurodegeneration.”

Talent No Existe!

“A genius! For 37 years I’ve practiced fourteen hours a day, and now they call me a genius!” –Pablo Sarasate (Spanish violinist)
Anders Ericsson’s fantastic work on deliberate practice, as well as the work of many other researchers (see below), has shown that talent is merely disguised practice. In the following video, listen closely to how the teacher frames the girl’s typing skill, and how Makensie herself does. The teacher is flabbergasted, but Makensie gives us a lot more information: she practices, has goals, receives support and encouragement from family and friends, and gets self-esteem from the skill she’s acquired.