Psychology for Musicians: Understanding and Acquiring the Skills

By Andreas C. Lehmann; John A. Sloboda et al. | Go to book overview
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In this final chapter of the section on Musical Learning we discuss the activity that musicians engage in most: practice. “How much and how do you practice?” is not the first question we would ask famous musicians, but it is certainly one that many of us would like to know the answer to. “Have you practiced today?” is the nagging question asked by parents or peers. Music teachers too often take it for granted that their students know how to practice correctly, but the objective record from the practice room experience dispels this myth. Rather than well-organized, goal-directed work, we often hear aimless and haphazard music making. Fortunately, some teachers have their particular advice on practice for students, hoping that what worked for them personally will work for their students as well. But then they might wonder why some advice bears fruit for one student and not for another. The fact is that practice is a multifaceted behavior that has attracted a lot of attention from researchers and teachers alike. We know that practice is not only the most prevalent activity that all musicians engage in but that it is also unarguably a necessary duty. Furthermore, we know of no one who has become (even remotely) famous without it. In this chapter we show the following:
1. The scientific concept of practice is somewhat more detailed than our everyday notion of it, which does not clearly differentiate between formal and informal practice.
2. The goal of practice is not merely to learn a piece of music but to develop complex mental and physical adaptations that, in turn, enable successful long-term skill building.
3. Not surprisingly, more practice leads to better performance. This insight has some important ramifications for our understanding of skill development, namely, that there are few (if any) shortcuts to acquiring musical skills.


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Psychology for Musicians: Understanding and Acquiring the Skills


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