Archive Monthly Archives: February 2019

Muscle Memory And The Importance Of Accurate Practice

Some thoughts on muscle memory, and the importance of accuracy in practice.

When you practice a physical motion with your body, the body tends to "remember" how to do that motion. For those of us who can walk and ride a bicycle, you realize pretty quickly when you think about it that you don't think much about these things when we do them. Your body just does those things pretty much without thought.

As a matter of fact, if you hop on a bicycle after having not been on one for years, you realize how quickly you can get on it and not have to rethink how to keep that sucker upright. It just stays up. This is a phenomenon that occurs due to the brain-body connections that form through repeated cycles of activities  Part of it is something called “muscle memory.”

According to all things Wikipedia, muscle memory is…

a form of “procedural memory” that involves consolidating a specific motor task into memory through repetition, which has been used synonymously with “motor learning.” When a movement is repeated over time, a long-term muscle memory is created for that task, eventually allowing it to be performed without conscious effort. This process decreases the need for attention and creates maximum efficiency within the motor and memory systems. Examples of muscle memory are found in many everyday activities that become automatic and improve with practice, such as riding a bicycle, typing on a keyboard,… playing a musical instrument…

And for reference, and to round out the picture, the wikipedia article references a concept called “motor learning.”

Motor learning is a change, resulting from practice or a novel experience, in the capability for responding. It often involves improving the smoothness and accuracy of movements and is obviously necessary for complicated movements such as speaking, playing the piano and climbing trees.

So practicing your wind instrument will cause changes in the brain - those changes develop in relation to the muscle movements that are involved with playing the instrument. (It seems that is the “motor learning” part. And then, as you do it more repeatedly, it starts to become more “second-nature.”)

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Why You Need To OWN The Pentatonic Scale

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We've all heard how important it is to practice our scales and chords. But sometimes it's hard to know where to start. There are major scales, and then there are minor scales - melodic minor, harmonic minor and normal minor scales, without even mentioning the dorian scales and a whole bunch of other patterns to learn.

But is it possible to perfect them all, all the time, forever? Does it feel like even if you could work all that into your practice schedule, you'd be spinning plates?

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Focus On One Thing

Sometimes it can be overwhelming to try to figure out where to start down a road to getting to where you want to go. If you're floundering with conflicting feelings about how or what to practice, or where to start, sometimes you just have to start somewhere,  and go from there.

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