Music, Music, Music

by Win Wenger, Ph.D.
Winsights No. 110 (November/December 2009)

Photograph courtesy of Elan Sun Star

Here is a brief summary of some of our work as regards music. The list of methods for learning to play music, or to upgrade one’s skills in such playing, is much longer than this list; sometime we will organize it if there is sufficient interest. Meanwhile, the Improvitaping next below is in itself one of the fastest and easiest ways to get to know and play a particular instrument, learning its voice and ways to express it, once you learn to listen to yourself. Here is a short list of addresses of our articles on various topics regarding aspects of music:

Improvitaping and Improvisation

In 900 minutes of self-training by this simple program, you can be composing excellent music of your own favorite kind. This is true even for people who are not yet musically inclined. Even more than composing, this is a fast way—and after those first three rounds, an easy way—to learn to sensitively play an instrument or to play it better.

Regarding Sight-Reading and Playing Music and Perfect Pitch— Maybe we were all born with it; certainly we can all learn it or re-learn it. If anyone reading this is good with computer games and willing to work with us, we can develop software to build the skill in adults. Consider the by-now-ancient computer game concept of successively higher challenge levels. Now consider that even the tone-deaf can distinguish one octave from another, or whatever interval to start from, then work to finer and finer discriminations and more finely discriminated predictive expressions(!) until one is finely tuned and the core intellectual organ in the brain, the left plenum temporales, our instrument for distinguishing nuances of word-meanings, is fully stimulated and developed. (In people with perfect pitch, that organ is double the size, by volume, of its counterpart in people who do not have perfect pitch.

Regarding Pole-Bridging effects of sight-reading and playing music, and learning to sight-read — This is the main reason, we believe, that young children who learn to sight-read and play music have an average of 20 IQ points lifetime advantage over their culturally and economically matched counterparts who do not. Immediately apparent are many methods for Pole-Bridging to integrate the brain and, among other things, to improve intellectual performance.

Regarding a quick easy aid for getting challenging passages in playing music just right, see Babble-Back.

The application to music, in learning to play any difficult passage just right: set the repeater feedback interval to whatever length; then, without having to fuss with the controls in-between, play the passage in question any number of times and immediately hear the feedback, until you consistently have the passage exactly how you want it.

The power of feedback is not only for learning but for shaping the most basic skills and brain functions:

Listen to a short sample of my improvitaped music online from a few years ago:

Generally:  We may not know yet exactly why, especially in bio-evolutionary survival terms, music is so very powerful in our lives. We do know, however, that music involves, and stimulates the development of, many different regions of the brain, not only the left plenum temporales, and seems inseparably intertwined with many crucial intellectual functions.

We also know that other life forms besides humans respond strongly and positively to music, from cows giving more milk to corn growing better, to elephants—once given appropriate instruments that could take the treatment—obviously playing what was recognizeably a form of music. When we do eventually research the answers as to why and how, we will know a LOT more about human brains, human learning, and human well-being.