Thursday, January 21, 2010


I have a hunch - and I'm big on hunches - that the media must get pretty weary of the news cycles that happen at the end of the calendar year. December - who is buying what and when, how to create fabulous holiday meals, and where to entertain your friends and family. January - how to return what you didn't want in the first place, how to lose the pounds you gained eating fabulous holiday meals, and where you can go to escape the long, inactive, gray days of January.

Oh, yes, then all the media chats with psychologists who tell us why we don't follow through on our New Year's resolutions. As if we didn't know.

We are creatures of habit. We are wired for repetition. Our brains learn by repeating actions that become reinforced by an insulating substance called myelin. The more we repeat an action, the more myelin is created around the sequence of nerves which carry the message for that action. This becomes a rapid response system for a given action, and it can feel like
"automatic pilot".

This kind of automatic response is something we often want in musical performance. It is the result of practice that results in reliable performance, for the most part.

But sometimes, it doesn't work, and we don't always know why.

In some cases, this is because being on auto-pilot is called "concentrating". Concentrating is a state of mind in which all of one's attention goes to a single element. The brain is not particularly happy when concentrating because it is capable of processing a HUGE amount of input at once. The well-trained musician's brain knows how to prioritize what is happening
in the performance environment while presenting well-crafted performance. This prioritization is a CRUCIAL skill in performance.

Developing this skill requires an awareness of its value - just like a good New Year's resolution - and creative ways to hone this skill. For this reason, I developed "Sensory Tune-ups: a guided journal of sensory experiences for performers of all ages". It is easy to use and - dare I say - fun, unlike most New Year's resolutions.

Find out more by visiting my website at www. Send me an email for more personalized information.

Resolve to develop a new skill, rather than break an old habit. You may find that more newsworthy and more valuable.

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