Fiddling With Your Brain (Music Practice and the Brain)

Music practice changes the brain. Heck, just about everything we do changes the brain, so this is, of course, no surprise. But music practice changes the brain in specific, useful, and interesting ways.

Major Scales and Their Kin

A series of lessons in which I explain the major scale, all its modes, relative minor, Major and minor pentatonics, and the related blues scale. I posted it to help trumpet players learn the fingering of their scales, but the concepts can help anyone and getting the sound of each scale into your memory is essential.

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)
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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.

Your Plastic Brain

A recent study looked at the growth of white matter in the brains of young adults learning to juggle. Yes, jugglers. After 6 weeks of training, and around 30 minutes of daily practice, their brains were significantly different from non-jugglers.

Signal to Noise

This–among other things–helps the brain grow myelin, the substance that helps neurons fire more efficiently, making you better at whatever it is you’re practicing. The best example Coyle gives is futsal, a game very much like futbol (American soccer), but in a smaller field, with a smaller and heavier ball, and much quicker. Major players in world soccer (esp. if they’re Brazilian), have used the greater intensity of the signal in futsal to improve their soccer skills. It’s also a great example of how playing a game might actually be furthering your goals. Some think playing games are a waste of time, and video games can be a great example. But what is time-wasting, really? It’s noise. And noise depends on your definitions, your context.