Category The Brain

Violin Dreams

I don’t remember my dreams too often, but I wrote once before about a dream that involved my violin, and last night I had another.  Details are sketchy, but I was roaming a dream-world warren of rooms dodging children and other people as I tried to find a place to play uninterrupted.  As the others […]

Dreaming Up Movement

I’ve been busy.  Very busy.  But though I’ve been away from the blog for almost ten days (perhaps a sad record), I’ve definitely been playing my new Gavotte and trying to work up vibrato.  The Becker Gavotte is coming along much better than the vibrato – I’m not making very rapid progress at all there.  […]


“I love violin – electric, death metal violin.” – Becca Cala, whose violin is becoming her ROAR I’m a big proponent of educating a whole person – the more areas of a brain we can activate the more well-rounded and beautiful the brainpower of the learner.  Becca’s story includes a horrific dose of childhood trauma – sadly all […]

Two Arms Working Together

When teaching brand new students trying their first karate class we always work on formal basic blocking.  It’s hard.  To make a downward block with the left arm, the right arm punches down to cover the groin, while the fist of the left arm rises up to the right temple.  The center line of the […]

Reading Dr. Sacks

I’m in the middle of reading Musicophilia, a 2007 book by Dr. Oliver Sacks I downloaded for Kindle after reading his obituary in the New York Times about a month ago. The book is making me aware of some structural brain differences found in professional musicians versus the rest of the population.  Sacks points to […]

Dr. Sacks and the Brain on Music

I just read a tremendous obituary in the New York Times – Dr. Oliver Sacks, renowned neurologist and prolific author and polymath, succumbed to cancer at 82 at his home in New York this morning.  His case studies of his patients, most famously brought to life in the 1990 film Awakenings, helped humanize people who […]

What’s an Octave?

An octave is an interval in music.  The concept forms the basis of Western music’s notation – A B C D E F G A – 8 notes.  In this example, A and A are an octave apart.  Though we don’t know which “As” I’ve specified, we can know that, if written in ascending order, […]

Music and the Brain

I ran across this infographic about music and the brain, and it reminded me that one of my goals in taking up an instrument just shy of forty is maintaining my gray matter.  As we age our brains stagnate – it’s just a fact of nature.  Keeping it active is important – all sorts of […]

Learning Wards off Stodgy

The other day I wrote about how happy I’ve been to fill in a couple of blanks of the “I’ve always wanted to ________” variety.  I mentioned a friend who’s always wanted to play the cello.  Well, I’m happy to report that she went out and rented a cello last weekend, and will start lessons […]

Oh Holy Night and the Difference a Year Makes

Oh Holy Night has long been my favorite Christmas song – I love the wonder the music conveys; it seems to perfectly capture the mood of the nativity moment from the Christmas story.  It’s also just a beautiful collection of notes, with highs and lows and plenty of drama!  Last year as Christmas approached I […]