Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Music/Mind Training

Many thanks to Pliable for sending along this link to a story on what the neuroscientists have discovered about the brains of some Tibetan Buddhist monks, each of whom had spent anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 hours in meditation before the testing.

. . . first, the monks exhibited a higher ratio of high frequency gamma brainwaves to slower alpha and beta waves during their resting baseline before the experiment began; and when the monks engaged in meditation, this ratio skyrocketed—up to 30 times stronger than that of the non-meditators. In fact, the gamma activity measured in some of the practitioners was the highest ever reported in a non-pathological context. Not only did this suggest that long-term mental training could alter brain activity, it also suggested that compassion might be something that could be cultivated. . . .

. . . In the brains of the meditators, they found larger volumes of gray matter in the right orbito-frontal cortex and the right hippocampus, areas thought to be implicated in emotion and response control. "It is likely that the observed larger hippocampal volumes may account for meditators' singular abilities and habits to cultivate positive emotions, retain emotional stability, and engage in mindful behavior," Luders writes.

These data points get at what I was trying to say in this post where I talked about some of the similarities between music training and mind training. If you're going to try to connect with and have an effect (that you want to have, not an unintended one) on audiences with your music making, you need to work on more than simple (no matter how advanced) technique. 

The complication for music makers is that you're not practicing feeling an emotion, but how to project it, which is not the same thing.

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