Changes to the Neural Super Highway

May 30, 2023, 8:46 AM · While "Muscle Memory" is the most commonly used term, what we develop is a Neural Super Highway (NSH). Firing the same synapses and nerves, the body finally wraps with insulation making the paths automatic.

Breaking my neck and having C0, 1 & 2 fused caused me to change the way I hold the violin (my jaw is to the right side of the tailpiece using a Flesch Flat Chinrest.

Of course, I'd start playing and the NSH would fire the muscles for the old posture. The violin would slip, fingers hit the wrong spots on the fingerboard, bow stroke go askew,... Frustrating.

A few days ago I had my first time playing when the old NSH didn't pull me out of the new correct posture.

It got me to thinking about what we teach our students about perfect practice. Hole the violin wrong, bow incorrectly, play out of tune,... and eventually all those mistakes become part of your NSH.

It's difficult to explain the nuance of the NSH to another adult -- now try a child.

"Practice makes perfect" is not correct if your practice creates a NSH that contains mistakes. They become automatic. This was a hard life-lesson for me. Just thought I would share what life taught me.

Replies (1)

May 30, 2023, 10:51 AM · I sometimes dismayed my students by saying that every mistake or failure is inscribed in the history of the universe till the end of time: we can't undo them but we can try to make sure they are forgotten!

Any bad note or phrase or motion must be immediately corrected twice: once to put correcting fluid over the fault, and then again to replace it.
Then do the good version three times, select the best of the three and try that one three times, and so on.

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