Improving speed

mata

Junior Member
Do you have any sources for this? This goes against all the published and accepted literature on brain and skill development.

Everything we "know" about the brain, backed up by many studies, states that actions are learned by slow, correct repetition, specifically without mistakes. Speed is the result of this process. The brain learn, records, and programs the correct action, and upon completion can perform it at any speed (restricted in reality by physical limitations). The whole point is the avoidance of mistakes.

There are some very good, peer-reviewed articles about this which I am desperately trying to find, but their conclusions are all as I have stated.

Until I'm able to locate the specific articles online, anybody interested could read Michael Griffin's "Learning Strategies for Musical Success", especially the chapter on How to Practise. It deals specifically with deliberate practice and slow repetition, with the avoidance of mistakes at all cost.

Hi Mighty_Joker, my source for this is Stanford Neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Huberman. His podcast is fascinating, and I'll recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the brain: https://hubermanlab.com/

Particularly his two episodes on learning:

and

Focus is the main ingredient of learning. That's why he says focus on a singular aspect of the skill. The other ingredients are the chemicals that the brain triggers, mainly dopamine, when you do the skill it correctly. That's what differentiates a good repetition from a bad repetition to your brain, and makes it change the movement pattern.

It's really the same as deliberate practice. If you are practicing deliberately, you are trying something that is beyond your capabilities, but not so hard that you never get it right. If you keep doing "perfect", slow repetitions of a movement then you are not practicing, you are playing something that you already know how to do, so technically no change to the brain. A different thing would be when you try to perfect a movement, and you do it slowly to focus on a specific part of your hand, your finger or whatever. That's also what I'm talking about, because sometimes going reaaaally slow is as fast as you can go if you want to really focus.

I'm not saying that you have to play as fast as you can, disregarding technique, but you need to go out of your confort zone enough that you start making mistakes, and then you focus on correcting one of those mistakes.

As Chris "Daddy" Dave says:
"If you come to my house and walk into the room where I’m practicing, you’re going to hear me sound like I can’t play. That’s because I’m working on stuff that I can’t do so I can improve. "
 

Mighty_Joker

Silver Member
Hi Mighty_Joker, my source for this is Stanford Neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Huberman. His podcast is fascinating, and I'll recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the brain: https://hubermanlab.com/

Particularly his two episodes on learning:

and

Focus is the main ingredient of learning. That's why he says focus on a singular aspect of the skill. The other ingredients are the chemicals that the brain triggers, mainly dopamine, when you do the skill it correctly. That's what differentiates a good repetition from a bad repetition to your brain, and makes it change the movement pattern.

It's really the same as deliberate practice. If you are practicing deliberately, you are trying something that is beyond your capabilities, but not so hard that you never get it right. If you keep doing "perfect", slow repetitions of a movement then you are not practicing, you are playing something that you already know how to do, so technically no change to the brain. A different thing would be when you try to perfect a movement, and you do it slowly to focus on a specific part of your hand, your finger or whatever. That's also what I'm talking about, because sometimes going reaaaally slow is as fast as you can go if you want to really focus.

I'm not saying that you have to play as fast as you can, disregarding technique, but you need to go out of your confort zone enough that you start making mistakes, and then you focus on correcting one of those mistakes.

As Chris "Daddy" Dave says:
"If you come to my house and walk into the room where I’m practicing, you’re going to hear me sound like I can’t play. That’s because I’m working on stuff that I can’t do so I can improve. "

Thank you for sharing this. It has really illuminated me on what I may have been missing in my own practising and concepts. I’ll have to explore this further, but will be applying these concepts to my own practice time from now on.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Here is another article of interest for you. Everything in science is always changing, and lots of ideas too ( there are camps). It use to be thought adult neurons never divided, but studies from song birds and finally human yep in hippocampus. Memory was examined by how various neurotransmitters interact and transduce signals, changes in ion channels, changes in gene expression, changes in synapses, and more recently myelination and how astrocytes and oligodendrites play a role, then plasticity became a trend then studies challenging plasticity to yes plasticity but decreases with age. And now studies find those with long term “enriched environments “ and using their noggins show protection from brain areas that typically degenerate with age. Playing a musical instrument rewires your brain - my corpus callosum must be huge ROFL. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4430083/

 

mata

Junior Member
Thank you for sharing this. It has really illuminated me on what I may have been missing in my own practising and concepts. I’ll have to explore this further, but will be applying these concepts to my own practice time from now on.

Glad to be helpful. I know it blew my mind when I watched it.

BTW, I sent you a private message as well
 

mrthirsty

Junior Member
Here is another article of interest for you. Everything in science is always changing, and lots of ideas too ( there are camps). It use to be thought adult neurons never divided, but studies from song birds and finally human yep in hippocampus. Memory was examined by how various neurotransmitters interact and transduce signals, changes in ion channels, changes in gene expression, changes in synapses, and more recently myelination and how astrocytes and oligodendrites play a role, then plasticity became a trend then studies challenging plasticity to yes plasticity but decreases with age. And now studies find those with long term “enriched environments “ and using their noggins show protection from brain areas that typically degenerate with age. Playing a musical instrument rewires your brain - my corpus callosum must be huge ROFL. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4430083/

Gives me a great title idea for a drum independence book "Divide Your Brain Into 4 Parts and Party"
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Fine tuning at lower speed is always the first step.

Consistent high tempo is hard and may or may not be too useful, so a middle step is doing bursts. e.g. a bar of beat 1 & 2 as 16ths and beat 3 & 4 as 32s.

When you get stuck, it's time to investigate the individual mechanics even more and fine tune as perfect as you can gain at a slower tempo so you you're really aware of what you're doing. Expermenting with different subdivisions is good there as you have to be consistent and can't go on auto pilot.
 
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Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Platinum Member
Fine tuning at lower speed is always the first step.

Consistent high tempo is hard and may or may not be too useful, so a middle step is doing bursts. e.g. a bar of beat 1 & 2 as 16ths and beat 3 & 4 as 32s.

When you get stuck, it's time to investigate the individual mechanics even more and fine tune as perfect as you can gain at a slower tempo so you you're really aware of what you're doing. Expermenting with different subdivisions is good there as you have to be consistent and can't go on auto pilot.

I do the "bursts" idea a lot with my intermediate level students. It allows them to get a taste of playing fast, but keeps them from playing into bad technique/habits. There are a lot of those "burst" type exercises in the marching/drum corps world.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
A good general article explaining things for lay people. https://www.themusiciansbrain.com/?p=1793 Here is a great working memory article-it touches on how we activate the motor pathways when we hear and other sensory stimuli. Really long but touches on a lot of neuro for background https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6604620/.
Here's a great article on long term memory-what I note that applies this thread and the thread with alcohol use is how we retrieve these type memories-and how they can be altered-and in both bad ways and improving ways. Alcohol would be a bad way-use of benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax) also could impact your learning. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5605913/
Another good one- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4355270/
This one is interesting- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3957486/
 
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