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May 03, 2004

Learning Music « Music/Guitar »

I'm a little depressed today, and it's affecting my blogging. I can't seem to get any decent political entries going...

So I'm casting about for anything else I feel like I can talk about with some authority...hence: a discussion of music, tangentially related to the brain itself.

Back in high school, my main instrument was trumpet. I was decent, but not as good as I thought. Growing up in Montana does mean a marked lack of competition in certain skill/talent-based abilities like that. I made All-State. Yay.

In any case, trumpet is generally played with the right hand manipulating the keys and the left hand holding the piston cases. Both right-handed and left-handed players did this...

...which doesn't really make sense, if you consider handedness to be such genetic destiny that they have to design left-handed guitars, right?

At one point, I was screwing around and switched so I was manipulating the keys with my left hand instead. I wasn't really showing off, I don't think, and there wasn't really any reason to do it. Kids are stupid, I guess.

But the interesting result was that I found out I could actually learn songs more quickly that way. If there was a difficult fingering passage that would take about an hour of practice to learn the normal way, I could learn it in about half the time just by switching my hands and practicing.


I think it's because I involved the opposite brain in practicing the sequences of finger movements, and the result was greater facility...

I'm not sure, though, because I'm no expert in brain hemisphere functions. I just know that doing anything with the wrong hand feels awkward...unless you really keep at it. I'm right-handed, and most of us righties would say we can't do things with our left hand. But I've found that feeling of awkwardness only lasts for a few hours, and if you really press on, you will start to feel comfortable with doing the action with your left hand. Seriously. Handedness seems less to do with actual final ability and more with which hand we want to try and use first.

No real point to this article, just that the mind is far more flexible than I think most people realize.

Posted by Nathan at 02:21 PM | Comments (0)
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