The Science & Psychology of Music Performance: Creative Strategies for Teaching and Learning

By Richard Parncutt; Gary E. McPherson | Go to book overview

5
Brain Mechanisms
ECKART ALTENMÜLLER & WILFRIED GRUHN

Neurological foundations of music perception, performance, and learning rely on individually variable, widely distributed neuronal networks in both hemispheres. Music performance is a complex voluntary sensorimotor behavior that becomes automated during extensive practice with auditory feedback. It involves all motor, somatosensory, and auditory areas of the brain. Practicing a musical instrument results first in a temporary and later in a stable increase in the amount of nerve tissue devoted to the various component tasks. Overuse of movement patterns may degrade motor memory and voluntary control of movements (musician's cramp). Neuronal networks established during music learning may depend on teaching strategies. Brain regions corresponding to specific subtasks of music performance are larger in musicians with early training, which may account for their superior capacity to acquire complex musical sensory-motor and auditory skills.

Music performance at a professional level is one of the most demanding tasks for the human central nervous system. It involves the precise execution of very fast and, in many instances, extremely complex physical movements under continuous auditory feedback. A further aspect of music performance—although not specifically addressed in this chapter—is the involvement of emotional experiences.

Extensive practice is required to develop new skills and carry out these complex tasks. Motor skills, on the one hand, can only be automated by countless repetitions; aural skills, on the other hand, are developed through a broad variety of listening experiences. These skills are not represented in isolated brain areas but rather depend on the multiple connections and interactions established during training within and among the different regions of the brain. The general ability of our central nervous system to adapt to both changing environmental conditions and newly imposed tasks during its entire life span is referred to as plasticity: in music, learning through experience and training is accompanied

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The Science & Psychology of Music Performance: Creative Strategies for Teaching and Learning
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • References xi
  • Part I - The Developing Musician 1
  • 1 - Musical Potential 3
  • References *
  • 2 - Environmental Influences 17
  • References *
  • 3 - Motivation 31
  • References *
  • 4 - Performance Anxiety 47
  • References *
  • 5 - Brain Mechanisms 63
  • References *
  • 6 - Music Medicine 83
  • References *
  • Part II - Subskills of Music Performance 97
  • 7 - From Sound to Sign 99
  • References *
  • 8 - Improvisation 117
  • References *
  • 9 - Sight-Reading 135
  • References *
  • 10 - Practice 151
  • References *
  • 11 - Memory 167
  • References *
  • 12 - Intonation 183
  • References *
  • 13 - Structural Communication 199
  • References *
  • 14 - Emotional Communication 219
  • References *
  • 15 - Body Movement 237
  • References *
  • Part III - Instruments and Ensembles 251
  • 16 - Solo Voice 253
  • References *
  • 17 - Choir 269
  • References *
  • 18 - Piano 285
  • References *
  • 19 - String Instruments 303
  • References *
  • 20 - Wind Instruments 319
  • References *
  • 21 - Rehearsing and Conducting 335
  • References *
  • Contributors 353
  • Author Index 363
  • Subject Index 373
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