Monday, April 09, 2007

[muse] Muscle Memory

I was practicing Bach's Invention 13 last night, and noticed this:

I've always learned a new piece of music by playing through it for a while first. So that's what I had done with this piece. I could play through it, but with many pauses and restarts.

Once I'm ok at the play-through, I practice to get rid of the pauses and restarts. That's what I was doing last night. I suddenly realized, that all I was doing, was trying to reverse all the wrong muscle memories that I had developed in the "playing through" phase.

And it was really hard.

It then occured to me, how easily and unknowingly it is to develop these muscle memories in all parts of our lives -- be it finger positions on a piano, to how we organize mail, how we split the bills at dinner, how we laugh at the movies, how we deal with a bad day at work ...

Much of what we called "personality" and "character", is the collective muscle memories that we had accumulated and settled into as we age.

Now it really makes sense to me, why most people can't change. I can barely fix a couple of fingering mistakes in one evening.

Beware of muscle memories. They creep in.