MTNA 2019

Pedagogy Saturday
MTNA 2019

Spokane, Washington
16 March 2019

Practicing with the Brain in Mind

For more information about subjects covered in this talk, go to Categories in the right-hand column of this blog site and scroll down to Neuroplasticity, Learning and memory, Music cognition, Musician’s Brain webinar, Practice, and Brain hardwiring.



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

Amedi, A., et. al., 2008.  Neural and behavioral correlates of drawing in an early blind painter: A case study.     The journal article concerning Esref Armagan.

Altenmüller, E. and Gruhn, W.  1997.  Music, the brain, and music learning.  Chicago: GIA.  A study concerning declarative and procedural teaching styles and how they activate different parts of the brain.

Dunning, Jennifer.  June 14, 1981.  When A Pianist’s Fingers Fail to Obey.  Article in the New York Times about the onset of Gary Graffman’s hand problem, which eventually was diagnosed as focal dystonia.  In 1981, FD had not yet been identified.

Pascuel-Leone, A., et. al., 1995.  Modulation of Muscle Responses Evoked by Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation During the Acquisition of New Fine Motor Skills.  Journal of Neurophysiology, 74(3):  1037-1045.  Describes the 5-finger experiment I spoke about in the talk.

Perruchoud, D., 2014.  Focal dystonia and the Sensory-Motor Integrative Loop for Enacting (SMILE).  Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. doi:  10.3389/fnhum.2014.00458

Wilson, F. R.  Glenn Gould’s Hand, 2000


Eckart Altenmüller, Mario Wiesendanger, Jürg Kesselring, Eds.  2006.  Music, Motor Control and The Brain.   There are four chapters on focal dystonia including one written by Altenmüller about 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!

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 in plasticity, although he rarely mentions either 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.

Leon Fleisher and Anne Midgette.  2010.  My Nine Lives: A Memoir of Many Careers in Music 

George Kochevitsky. 1967.  The Art of Piano Playing:  a scientific approach.   Kochevitsky was the first to suggest that practicing at the piano is mainly practicing of the central nervous system – the brain and spinal cord.  Science has advanced since the publication of this book, but his premise is right.

Daniel J. Levitin, 2006.  This is Your Brain On Music:  The Science of a Human Obsession.  How we experience music and why it is so important in our lives.

Richard Parncutt and Gary McPherson, Eds. 2002.  The Science & Psychology of Music Performance:  Creative strategies for teaching and learning.   This is the book I mentioned during the final wrap-up session in which each chapter is written by a scientist and a musician.  Covers a variety of issues, from performance anxiety to brain mechanisms for music to issues having to do with various instruments.

David Vining.  Compiled Notes of Hope, stories by musicians coping with injuries.     His own remarkable recovery from dystonia is one of the essays in the book, but you can also read it on his website at .

Frank R. Wilson.  1986.  Tone Deaf & All Thumbs?  An Invitation To Music-Making.    Convinced that everyone has an inborn ability to make music (a “biological guarantee of musicianship”).


Nobuyuki Tsujii.  Chopin Etude in C Major, Op. 10

Evelyn Glennie.  TED 2003.  How to Truly Listen


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.


Dystonia Medical Research Foundation

Eşref Armağan, blind Turkish painter.  The site includes several video clips, including one of neuroscientist Alvaro Pascual-Leone discussing his work with Armagan.