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Friday, November 23 • 10:00 - 10:30
What Musicians Can Learn About Practicing from Current Brain Research

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This presentation will focus on what neuroscientists have discovered about how our brains learn and how
to apply these insights to practicing and teaching so that practicing becomes more efficient and effective,
leading to enhanced performance ability, enjoyment, and confidence. The presentation is divided into five
different sections, starting with the basics of how the brains learns, and an explanation of why the popular
practice method of “start at the beginning and play until you make a mistake” is so detrimental to actual
improvement and consistency.

Alternative methods of practice are offered that are rooted in scientific understandings how our brains learn and solidify new skills and information. The next section, on interleaved versus blocked practicing, addresses how to prepare most successfully for performance situations and how to alleviate the common wish that one could get a second chance after a concert or audition. The third section looks how to use a metronome most effectively to improve steadiness and sense of pulse. The brain behaves in a fundamentally different way when the metronome is off versus when it is on, so the standard way of using the metronome will not be effective in improving sense of pulse. After this, the presentation looks at the research on the importance and benefit to sleep in learning, especially when learning new skills and material.

Finally, it concludes with a look at mental practicing and the astounding ways this can actually change the very physical structure of the brain. Throughout the presentation, concrete, practical methods for utilizing this information in the practice room are given. This presentation relates to the theme of “exploring new ways to perform” because it will give violists new ideas on how to practice and prepare for performance. Although the information in this presentation is well-known in the scientific community, it is not all that well-known in the musical community. Most of our knowledge as musicians on how to practice has been handed down from teacher to student over many generations. As everything in our lives becomes more influenced by scientific insight, musicians should also seek to learn new ways of practicing and preparing for performance that are backed by scientific support.

avatar for Molly Gebrian

Molly Gebrian

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (USA)
Violist Molly Gebrian has distinguished herself as an outstanding performer, teacher, and scholar throughout the US and Europe. Her love of contemporary music has led her to collaborate with many composers, often in premieres of works written for her. She has worked closely with the... Read More →

Friday November 23, 2018 10:00 - 10:30 CET
Hofplein Rotterdam, Main Theatre Benthemstraat 13, 3032 CC Rotterdam, Netherlands