A few months ago I wrote several posts about the importance of mirror neurons in the study and performance of music. Mirror neurons, as you recall, are the cells that fire both when we act and when we see someone else making the same action, and multiple studies have been conducted that specifically explore mirror neurons in musicians. But some scientists have called mirror neurons the most hyped concept in neuroscience. So are mirror neurons myth – or reality. And what difference does this controversy make to practicing musicians? Continue reading
Mirror neurons are imitation neurons, but does how we imitate matter? Forty years ago, long before mirror neurons were known about, psychologists Seymour Wapner and Leonard Cirillo were interested in finding out at what age children develop an understanding of right from left in terms of their spatial development. They conducted a series of experiments in which children of different ages were asked by the researcher to “do as I do” as researcher and child were facing each other. Young children would imitate the adult researcher as though seeing him in a mirror. If the researcher raised his right hand, the child would raise his left. Mirror imitation. Continue reading
You are at a concert and find that you are becoming increasingly tense, uncomfortable, and nervous as the performer experiences several memory lapses. You know by the look on a student’s face as he comes to your studio that he hasn’t practiced during the past week. A stranger smiles at you as you walk down the street and you smile back, suddenly feeling happier. You know when your spouse grabs the grilling tongs while you are enjoying dinner outdoors that he isn’t about to turn the vegetables on the grill, he’s going to throw the tongs at the woodchuck that’s gnawing on a tree in your yard (strange, but true).