This subject has been bugging me since the Sevcik thread came up. Is it really a good thing to think of what we are doing all the time? The Joseph Hague recordings, where the great Heifetz acts the part of an overcautious music student, gave more fuel to those doubts. And then there is Whitehead:
It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all copy-books and by eminent people when they are making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them. Operations of thought are like cavalry charges in a battle--they are strictly limited in number, they require fresh horses, and must only be made at decisive moments.
Alfred North Whitehead, An Introduction to Mathematics (1911)
And Prof. Dr. P.F.A. Martinez-Martinez, who taught neuroanatomy:
"When you learn to play the piano, you use your cortex. When you play the piano well, you use the globus pallidum."
(the globus pallidum is a brain center involved in automatic movement patterns.)
Obviously, we need to think, and plan, at least some of the time; otherwise we would not know what to do. But when I start studying a piece that I can sort of play through, there is a purgatory of clumsiness that I have to go through before the piece improves -- or not. And I feel there is a danger of falling back into that clumsiness during performance.
If this makes sense to you, my questions are:
This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.
Violinist.com is made possible by...
Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.