Category The Brain

Art and Science

Lately, Teacher has been working with me on dynamics.  Loudness is, of course, one of our universe’s seemingly infinite continuums.  The loudest loud can always be shouted down by something else; the softest soft can be softer.  An infinity stretches between.  Within the oeuvre of just one man, dynamics help create the delicate dance of […]

Memorization and the Play-Through

Getting to the spot in a new piece of music where I can play it through without stopping is always a thrill.  After yesterday’s lesson I am much closer on this newest piece – we worked through the remaining section of the Third Movement of Seitz’s Fifth Concerto, a flowing stretch of slurred sixteenth notes […]

Violin Dreaming

This morning I broke free from one of those odd dream worlds that can appear when crossing over from sleeping to waking.  The dream was about the violin – not about playing the violin, but just a strange little scene with the instrument itself.  It was unsettling – I generally don’t remember dreams. Upon returning […]

Seitz and More

The new Seitz movement – the First of the Fifth Concerto – is difficult, but also quite fun to work on.  Last week’s lesson took me just a little over halfway through it.  The section I started last week brought a shift from D Major to E Major – my first time working in the […]

Brain Acting Out

Last night as I warmed up with scales I was not getting the notes.  I would play the G major scale and play C# instead of C.  Conversely, I would play C instead of C# in the A major scale, a basic reversal.  Then, while playing the C major scale I’d play F# instead of […]

Learn, Teach

I don’t have a lesson today – Teacher is away at an Irish fiddle camp in one of the Carolinas (I can’t ever keep the Carolinas straight – apologies to the good people who call them home).  I was interested in her preparation for the expedition – she has been playing her fiddle for the […]

Passions: Music Beats Politics

I’ve long been shackled to politics – here in Chicago at least we had a primary with some interesting local races that actually centered on issues versus personalities.  The elections have been important and offered a refreshing reminder of what politics should be all about.  But the national dialogue is anything but. One side effect of […]

What Makes the Sound of Music?

Linguists have argued about the neurological bases of speech and music for a long time, with most evidence and argumentation coming from anthropology and evolution – all cultures produce music, all cultures have language – these adaptations must be good for something.  Noted neuroscientist and linguist Steven Pinker, for example, has called music “auditory cheesecake,” […]

Teaching Creativity

The Sunday New York Times contained a popular article (it was in the popular list, anyway) entitled, “How to Raise a Creative Child.  Step One: Back Off.”  Regular readers will know that I’m interested in pedagogy – how to teach and how to motivate people to learn.  The column, by Adam Grant, is about learning […]

Memory and The Suzuki Way

Memory and learning are horribly unfair beasts.  Very little is understood about the way humans store information, but what we do know is that most learning is associative – that is, we attach bits of information, or associate them, with other bits of information we already know.  A corollary to that idea is the fact […]