Brains are such an important part of the musical learning process that surprisingly gets overlooked often! We rely on muscle memory and hours of repetition, but we need our brains too. Here are a few resources about how our brains are involved in the music learning process, the experience of learning new things, and how mindset is related to both.
Brené Brown and FFTs
Dr. Brown is a researcher in human emotion, connection, shame, vulnerability, and related topics. She’s what we in academia call a “public scholar” because in addition to her academic duties like presenting at conferences, publishing papers, and teaching, she shares her work with the world.
A friend introduced me to her work at the beginning of the pandemic, and I’ve devoured pretty much everything she’s put into the world, more recently her podcasts Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead in which she applies her knowledge in interviews with incredible people and in solo thoughts about the state of the world and us as humans in it.
This particular episode (F—ing First Times) is one I love to share with newer music students or people learning new things because she talks about the normal frustration we feel when we can’t do it perfectly immediately.
Last Fall, I took a music cognition class from the editor of the Routledge Companion to Music Cognition, Dr. Richard Ashley, and my project of interest was in musical memory. What mental processes are involved when we memorize a piece of music on our instruments?
In the article, I briefly go over how everyday memory works, what “expert memory” is, and then go into detail about strategies to make memorizing music easier and more efficient.
Curiosity killed the cat…but satisfaction brought it back!
We’re born curious. At a young age, we discover the effects of gravity, how to speak, what foods we like (and hate!). That curiosity drives us to learn. Do we ever lose that? What does curiosity have to do with music? Can we make ourselves more curious?
This article talks a little bit about these questions and how we can involve curiosity in our practice sessions (and our teaching).
Overall, these ideas all fall under the concept of what drives us to keep learning music. We are curious. We notice patterns, we create memories, we have experiences that we get to share with others.
When we learn new things, we’re vulnerable, and that’s amazing and gives us more to talk about.
Keep learning, stay curious, and share your story. You’ll help others learn too!