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Topic: Mind Speed  (Read 4125 times)

Offline Antnee

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Mind Speed
on: September 01, 2004, 01:27:20 AM
After eading a few posts by Bernhard I realized  something.

Ok... so on one of the threads the topic of taking quick breaks during practicing a passage and playing it in your mind comes about. I had previously noticed this and done this to some extent, but I have been thinking about something else. If, lets say, we take a passage that gives us trouble and play it in our mind over and over paying close attention to our finger movments and positions and hearing the sound come from it (all in our head of course) and we slept on it, would this be the equivalent of actually playing it  physically? I tried playing through about five or six pages of the Waldstien sonata in my head and found myself to be equally fatigued as if I was sitting at the piano. Can you get the same results like this? I'm going to experiment...
"The trouble with music appreciation in general is that people are taught to have too much respect for music they should be taught to love it instead." -  Stravinsky

Offline .COM

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Re: Mind Speed
Reply #1 on: September 01, 2004, 02:18:54 AM
Quote
After eading a few posts by Bernhard I realized  something.

If, lets say, we take a passage that gives us trouble and play it in our mind over and over paying close attention to our finger movments and positions and hearing the sound come from it (all in our head of course) and we slept on it, would this be the equivalent of actually playing it  physically?

If the fingers are not in motion, then you should expect to recieve more mental fatigue than physical.

Then again, it also depends on the person.
Perfectionist/Learner

Offline bernhard

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Re: Mind Speed
Reply #2 on: September 01, 2004, 09:05:43 PM
Quote
After eading a few posts by Bernhard I realized  something.

Ok... so on one of the threads the topic of taking quick breaks during practicing a passage and playing it in your mind comes about. I had previously noticed this and done this to some extent, but I have been thinking about something else. If, lets say, we take a passage that gives us trouble and play it in our mind over and over paying close attention to our finger movments and positions and hearing the sound come from it (all in our head of course) and we slept on it, would this be the equivalent of actually playing it  physically? I tried playing through about five or six pages of the Waldstien sonata in my head and found myself to be equally fatigued as if I was sitting at the piano. Can you get the same results like this? I'm going to experiment...



Yes, do that and you will hit the jack pot.  :D

Here is an interesting story. A friend of mine was a taichi instructor. Unfortunately she had a very serious car accident, and as a result she was immobilised in bed for almost two years. After two months, she got really depressed about the very real possibility that she would never recover her full range of movement, or even practise taichi anymore. At that point she was visited in hospital by her instructor, who – being an instructor and all – instructed her to do the taichi form in her mind. But she was to do it in real time with as many details as possible. She had to “feel” the muscles moving through the form. If she chose (in her mind) to do it in a park, she should smell the grass and listen to the sounds of the children running about. You get the idea.

She did as she was instructed,religioulsy everyday, and in fact was usually physically tired from doing it in her mind. When she finally got out of bed, she surprised herself and the physiotherapists, by being in a much better form than what she (and they) expected. She was even more surprised that she could actually do the taichi form to a much higher standard than when she was at the peak of her form, before the accident.

As you go through any mental rehearsal of physical movements, even though you think you are not moving, the muscles are contracting minimally, so minimally in fact as to be undetectable, but make no mistake, they are getting a workout.

Have you ever heard of pendulum divination? You hold a string with a pendulum over a line, and decide which direction (parallel or perpendicular) to the line is yes, and which direction is no. Now ask a question and just hold the pendulum over the line without trying to influence it in any way.  You will find to your great surprise that the pendulum will move and give you an answer. This sort of thing has generated a huge market for “magical pendulums” made of crystal and with all sorts of “magical properties” depending in the material. This is of course rubbish. It has nothing to do with the pendulum. As you ask the question, your unconscious will answer it by these tiny imperceptible muscle movements. You will not feel it, and no one will be able to see them, but they will move the pendulum which makes the whole thing – albeit perfectly explainable – eerie nonetheless.

Scientifically minded people, once they hear the explanation tend to dismiss the pendulum as so much hocus pocus, but in my opinion they are throwing away the baby together with the bath water, since the pendulum although useless for divination purposes provides a unique chanel of communication with your own unconscious – and the unconscious knows a lot more than we fathom. So why not ask the unconscious some questions from time to time? Specially when we are stuck. But do not just give it a yes/no choice. Add to it “maybe”, “I don’t know”, “I know but it is not safe to tell you”. Draw lines on a piece of paper radiating from a centre and write down one answer for each line. Hold the pendulum right above the central point from which the lines irradiate, and ask your question. Your unconscious will move the pendulum over the appropriate line. Needless to say, you should not try to influence the pendulum movement in any way.

Here is something fun to try. Get a friend to ask a personal question for which you do not know the answer (like “do I have a car”, or “Is the colour of my underwear red?” – assuming you do not “consciously” know the answer). Then use the pendulum to find out if you know it unconsciously (you will have to phrase the question in a yes or no format). You may be quite surprised at how much you know unconsciously! By the way, Ouija boards (ever heard of them) work on the same principle. They are excellent ways to get unconscious information.

But I digress.

Unfortunately mental practice at the piano is easier said than done, so the usual way to get there is to break it down in manageable steps:

1.      First you just hear the piece/passage (in real time – so use a metronome so that you do not speed up unconsciously, and watch like a hawk that you do not skip bits – so work with a score in front of you). [aural representation]

2.      Then see yourself (your hands) pressing the appropriate keys. Because this is all in your mind, you can make it perfect! However again, this takes a lot of concentration (I believe that a lot of mistakes people make when playing is simply because they are unconsciously making such mistakes in their minds) [visual representation]

3.      Then you must “feel” the physical sensations associated with pressing the keys, from correct fingering to body movement, etc. (when I say feel I am not referring to emotions) [kinaesthetic representation]

4.      Then you must try to put together all the three above so that you have a complete (aural, visual and kynesthetical) mental representation of your playing. If you are detailed enough, you may end up “hallucinating” the playing to such an extent that it will be difficult to tell apart from reality (there is nothing extraordinary about this: we do it every night when we dream).

5.      One important caveat: this is not for exploratory work, this is for pieces/passages you have already figured out the exact physical co-ordinates. Otherwise there is no guarantee that you will be mentally practising the correct thing.

Now go and watch the “Matrix”! (And watch out for Mr. Smith!) ;D

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline Antnee

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Re: Mind Speed
Reply #3 on: September 01, 2004, 10:08:02 PM
Thanks a bunch Bernhard...

-Tony-
"The trouble with music appreciation in general is that people are taught to have too much respect for music they should be taught to love it instead." -  Stravinsky

Offline bernhard

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Re: Mind Speed
Reply #4 on: September 06, 2004, 12:52:15 AM
Quote
Thanks a bunch Bernhard...

-Tony-


You are welcome.  :)
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline amo

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Re: Mind Speed
Reply #5 on: September 26, 2004, 04:56:03 PM
This reminds me of my first year at the university, when i was to shy to fight with the others for getting a piano to practise at (and i didn't had one at home, 'cause i've moved in an other city). i was always practising in my mind, and even get to be pretty good at it. But, as Bernhard sais, you must know the piece first, at list you must have an idea of what your movements should be. of course, if you have a very good representation of the keyboard, of the distance between keys, that's not necessary.
I remember that the other students were doing heavy metal parties, while i was still practising in my mind. ;D
Read "le joueur d'echecs" by Stefan Zweig.

Offline CC

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Re: Mind Speed
Reply #6 on: October 01, 2004, 07:51:47 AM
I believe that mental practice, done correctly (which is the key unknown), will actually result in technical improvements.  The reasons are the following: (1) it improves and solidifies memory, and technique and memory are often not separable, and (2) technique development is more than 50% brain development, which you can accomplish to some extent by just playing in your mind.

The closest thing that I know of to "prove" this hypothesis is to conduct the following experiment on yourself. Take a piece you are learning that has a section where you almost always stumble (for example, if you try to play at a certain speed). Now try to play that in your mind, away from the piano.  Chances are, you will still make the same stumble.  If you now carefully think thru the passage and manage to play in your mind without stumbling, chances are, you will now play it smoothly on the piano.  Unfortunately, the second part is almost always impossible because it is much easier to figure out the solution on a mechanical device (piano) than in your mind.

In the link below, I have a section on how to use, and communicate with, your subconscious brain. See Chapt. 3, section 6.  That's how I solved many of my college assignment problems that I otherwise could not have solved, because the subconscious is often smarter than the conscious.
C.C.Chang; my home page:

 https://www.pianopractice.org/

Offline Antnee

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Re: Mind Speed
Reply #7 on: October 02, 2004, 04:26:31 AM
Over the last couple of weeks, this trick has proved extremely benificial. I noticed that it is most useful when just starting the piece, although it proves extremely useful any other time as well. When first playing a piece I usually come to to a tricky little spot where I stumble the first couple of times. So I make sure I memorize it correctly first. This way I can do it in my head. I play through it a couple times in my head. Visualizing my hand running over the keys. I don't do it fast in my head either. I do it slow and when I finish doing it once or twice in my head, I really try it at the same speed and without fail it comes out correctly. For the first week, I need to do this with this little trick passage every time I come to it, and after that, to my delight, I hear my hands playing it up to speed corectly perfectly, without the need for mind practice anymore. It's quite amazing! The only thing that differs between just starting a piece with the trouble spot and one that you've already been playing, is that it will take a little longer to get the fumble out, and play it correctly.
"The trouble with music appreciation in general is that people are taught to have too much respect for music they should be taught to love it instead." -  Stravinsky
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