Glad the issue of learning over “natural talent” is getting more attention, and not just from researchers like Steven Demorest and Peter Pfordresher (et al.), who just published a research paper on the subject. Here’s an excerpt from a recent Chicago Tribune article. <snip> Singing is more of a learned skill than a natural talent, said…
There are some really interesting research projects coming out of the neuroscience lab at Northwestern University. A couple years ago, I wrote a blog post about a
study that shows we continue to learn after a study session if the stimulus continues while we’re doing something else. Pretty cool, right? But maybe you prefer to catch up on your sleep and continue learning.
A new piece of research shows that the “inherently unpleasant” idea about deliberate music practice may not be entirely true. In fact, we may continue to learn when we’re doing something completely different from that which we’re practicing.
Set aside half an hour every day to do all your worrying; then take a nap during this period.
There is more refreshment and stimulation in a nap, even of the briefest, than in all the alcohol ever distilled.
~Publius Ovidius Naso (Ovid: 43 BC – 18 AD)
Sleep is one of the key strategies the brain uses for learning. It’s called consolidation in the research literature. Basically put, your brain needs down time in order to process all that you’ve taken in during the day. Naps can perform the same function.
I’ve read (and re-read in many cases) most books out there on practice and this is one of the best, hands down. Klickstein is a classical guitarist who performs throughout the U.S. and internationally and is a professor at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
My favorite 2 aspects of the book are…
Sound has an impact on us, a profound one. Whether it’s research showing that musicians can detect pitch difference language better; the discovery by Dana Strait–a friend and musical colleague of mine at Northwestern–that musicians are better at identifying emotion in sound; that trees communicate with sound; or that sound can also affect human development in a negative way as presented by Julian Treasure below in a six minute video.
Planning is an essential part of your practice session. Imagine the planning that went into the video above, and ask yourself how much planning goes into your practice sessions. Every book I’ve read on practice, and every research article that looks into what musicians do when they practice mentions the importance of planning out your practice session. This includes broader plans like goals, as well as more specific things like exactly which pieces or skills you’re going to tackle and how you’re going to tackle them. This planning stage is only one part of a 3-stage process used by most of the people studied by McPherson and Zimmerman in a 2002 study. Here’s what it looks like: