02. February 2010 · Comments Off on But …? · Categories: Links, News

For the improvisation study, researchers Aaron Berkowitz and Daniel Ansari studied the brains of 28 people as they improvised five-note melodies on a tiny keyboard. Thirteen were classically trained undergraduate pianists from the Dartmouth College music department. The other 15 were nonmusicians (though some had played instruments for up to three years in the past).

“The two groups showed significant differences in functional brain activity during improvisation,” the researchers report. “Specifically, musicians deactivated the right temporoparietal junction during melodic improvisation, while nonmusicians showed no change in activity in this region.”

This suggests trained musicians “are entering a different state of attentional focus than nonmusicians as soon as they engage in even the simple act of playing, and that this effect is particularly heightened during melodic improvisation,” Berkowitz and Ansari write.

In other words, they effectively blocked out mental distractions, “allowing for a more goal-directed performance state that aids in creative thought.”

Okay. So there’s that. But what I would really like to see is this same thing going on, having a group of classically trained musicians in one group and jazz musicians in the other. Many classically trained musicians aren’t into the improv thing. I wonder how our brains would look compared to the jazz musician, who is (usually, anyway) more comfortable with doing the improv thing.


02. February 2010 · Comments Off on Dumping Self-Deprecation (But I’m so GOOD At It!) · Categories: Other People's Words, Ramble

If she ever needs to remind herself why she dedicated herself to singing, Joyce DiDonato thinks back to a meeting she had with the great American soprano Leontyne Price. “I said, ‘Miss Price, do you ever put on your own recordings?’ She goes, ‘Oh darling! Sometimes I open a bottle of champagne and listen to them all afternoon. What a gorgeous voice I had!’ ”

The message DiDonato took from this seemingly immodest outburst was that singers should resist the temptation to retreat into a shell of humble self-deprecation. “I’m always self-deprecating, but I thought ‘We get a short amount of time to do what we do, and I want to celebrate it.’ I want to give my best and be able to say, ‘I wasn’t perfect, but I gave everything I had, and I hope you enjoyed it.’ “

I love the above. I’m not anywhere near the level of Miss Price or Miss DiDonato, but I still think there’s something to learn from what Miss Price said. I tend to live in self-deprecation land. Sometimes it’s that I fear that I’m a sham. Sometimes I am just angry at myself for how I’ve played. And other times I’m fearful of becoming arrogant. I really do hate the idea of becoming overly confident or arrogant. But of course putting myself down all the time isn’t a good thing either, and does affect my playing.

There has to be some sort of balance. I can, I’m sure, always play better. But I think all of us can all take great joy in what we do, and there’s really nothing wrong with being thrilled when we really nail something. Self-deprecation really doesn’t do anyone a bit of good, and false humility — something at which I excel (see? I CAN brag!) — is just … well … false. And kind of ugly, too.


02. February 2010 · Comments Off on BQOD · Categories: BQOD

the beginning of the Mozart oboe concerto is like CDCDCDCBCBCDEFGABCBCDCBAGGGAFDCBAGFFFFEDCC

02. February 2010 · Comments Off on TQOD · Categories: TQOD

And to round off my weird morning…a busking oboe player…

02. February 2010 · Comments Off on Well, MY Instruments Are From France! · Categories: Havin' Fun

Just received an email that begins with this:


Who knew an entire orchestra could be filled with instruments from Texas?!

02. February 2010 · Comments Off on Lovely! · Categories: Videos

Amadeus Consort: William Williams Trio Sonata #4