Monday, July 13, 2009

Right Brain/Left Brain

As a follow on to the previous post, the left brain/right brain way of talking about how we interact with the world around us is something else I picked up going to college in the 60s and being a psychiatric attendant and group therapist in the 70s. There's a lot of overlap with the Jungian notion of four categories, but it is a simpler, and often handier, notion using just two categories.

The basic idea is that the left brain works very analytically and logically and you are very conscious of each step you take along the way. Its the way you think through how something works by looking at each part of the whole and then seeing how they all work together.

The right brain is meant to work in a more more holistic, or all at once sort of way. Sometime we just "get" how something works without having to examine every detail. The right brain way of knowing is down below conscious thought and we're not fully aware of how it is we know or do something.

Just as with the Jungian categories, each of us has our own particular mix of left and right brain processing, and that mix will change depending on what it is we're trying to do or think about. When someone seems to be "a natural" at a way of thinking or of doing something, there's more right brain activity than left.

The single thing that most excites me about Jeff Smiley's Balanced Embouchure method for trumpet and horn, and that I want to emulate, is his way laying out instructional materials so that there's plenty for both the right and left brain to work with, each at its own pace. That far increases the chances that any particular music maker will find what they need to make real progress. Along with everything else, this approach helps people understand that just as many solutions to problems can come from within themselves as from an instructor.

As a music therapist I want people to as fully involve themselves in the learning behavior as possible. How you go about learning to make music can be just as therapeutic as making the music.

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