CMS 2017, San Antonio

Sixtieth CMS National Conference
26-28 October 2017
San Antonio, Texas


Neuroplasticity and its role in learning, memory, and injury-free playing


Importance of Sleep and Exercise

For more information about the two topics I covered in this presentation, go to Categories in the right-hand column of this blog site, and scroll down to  NeuroplasticityLearning and memory, Exercise, Memory, Practice, Music cognition, and Sleep.  (Terminology for kinds of memory in music is found under Memory.)

The following webinar, articles, books, and websites are  related to neuroplasticity, learning, memory, sleep, or exercise.


Lois Svard.  College Music Society Webinar.  A Musician’s Guide to the Brain:  what we need to know and why.   Discusses neuroplasticity, how we wire our brains as we learn music, how we also can wire in injuries.


Allen, S. (2012).  Memory Stabilization and Enhancement Following Music PracticePsychology of Music, 41(6), 794-803.

Altenmüller,E., and Jabusch, H-C. (2010).   Focal Dystonia in Musicians:  Phenomenology, Pathophysiology, triggering factors, and treatment.  Medical Problems of Performing Artists.  25(1): 3-9.

Cedernaes J. et. al. (2015). Short Sleep Makes Declarative Memories Vulnerable to Stress in Humans.  Sleep, 38(12), 1861-1868.

van Dongen, E.V., et. al. (2016).  Physical Exercise Performed Four Hours after Learning Improves Memory Retention and Increases Hippocampal Pattern Similarity during Retrieval.  Current Biology, 26(13),1722-1727.

Walker, M.P. (2009).  The Role of Slow Wave Sleep in Memory Processing.  Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 5(2), S20-S26.


Eckart Altenmüller and Wilfred Gruhn.  1997,  Music, the brain, and music learning.  Chicago: GIA.  A study concerning declarative and procedural teaching styles.

Eckart Altenmüller, Mario Wiesendanger, Jürg Kesselring, Eds.  2006.  Music, Motor Control and The Brain.   Includes chapter on Schumann’s focal dystonia.

Barbara Arrowsmith-Young.  2012. The Woman Who Changed her Brain.
Arrowsmith-Young changed her brain long before the term plasticity was in use, transforming herself from a child with extreme learning disabilities to an adult with above normal cognitive skills.  A fascinating read!

Peter Brown, Henry Roediger, Mark McDaniel.  2014.  Make it Stick: the science of successful learning

Benedict Carey.  2014.  How We Learn:  the surprising truth about when, where, and why it happens
Neither the Peter Brown nor Benedict Carey books are about music, but musicians can make use of the information.  Both look at recent discoveries in cognitive psychology and other disciplines to show how much we think we know about learning is wrong.  Both give techniques for more productive learning and memory.

Roger Chaffin, Gabriela Imreh, and Mary Crawford.  2012.  Practicing Perfection:  Memory and Piano Performance.    Part of a research series intended for both psychologists and musicians, this book details how an experienced pianist organizes practice, identifies stages in learning, characteristics of expert practice, and practice strategies.

Daniel Coyle.  2009.  The Talent Code:  greatness isn’t born. it’s grown. here’s how
This book is about extraordinary levels of talent, and how they occur.  Coyle is really talking about the myelination of axons in the brain, although he rarely mentions the term.

Norman Doidge.  2007.  The Brain that Changes Itself: stories of personal triumph from the frontiers of brain science.
All about neuroplasticity; a collection of case histories detailing stories of individuals who have changed their brains – and their lives – under extraordinary circumstances.

Kay S. Hooper.  2005.  Sensory Tune-ups: a guided journal of sensory experiences for performers of all ages.    The journal provides a guide for exploring and developing the kinesthetic, visual and auditory senses, to incorporate them more fully  in learning and performing.

Daniel Levitin.  2006.  This is Your Brain on Music:  the science of a human obsession. The best-selling book about how we experience music and why it plays such a unique role in our lives.

Julie Jaffee Nagel.  Nagel has two degrees in piano from Juilliard and a PhD in psychology from the Univ. of Michigan.  In her clinical practice, she works with musicians suffering from performance anxiety as well as other issues.  Her book  Melodies of the Mind  (2013) is an exploration of “the power of music to move us when words fall short.”  Check out her blog about performance anxiety on her website.

Rebecca Shockley.  1997.  Mapping Music: for faster learning and secure memory
Written for piano teachers and students, but the ideas apply to any musician.

Websites     Website developed by Rebecca Shockley and flutist Melissa Colgin about visual mapping for music.

Neuroscience for Kids   Website from the University of Washington.  Aimed at kids, but great for everyone.