Friday, April 13, 2012

How Does Myelin Work?

    There is a danger of oversimplification when science is brought to the main stream. It is easy to jump on the general ideas and assume we understand highly complex systems. Nevertheless I like to wrap my head around how things work. For this reason I enjoyed reading and absorbing The Talent Code. I don't really know how myelin in the brain works but I trust in the knowledge of not just one scientist, but in the combined testimonies of many who are fascinated with the musical brain.

"Every human skill, whether it's playing baseball or playing Bach, is created by chains of nerve fibers carrying a tiny electrical impulse—basically, a signal traveling through a circuit. Myelin's vital role is to wrap those nerve fibers the same way that rubber insulation wraps a copper wire, making the signal stronger and faster by preventing the electrical impulses from leaking out. When we fire our circuits in the right way—when we practice swinging that bat or playing that note—our myelin responds by wrapping layers of insulation around that neural circuit, each new layer adding a bit more skill and speed."
Daniel Coyle (2009-04-16). The Talent Code (p. 5). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition. 
    Tara gives another great view of how myelin works here.  I appreciate her added information and understand her concerns.
  What did I learn from The Talent Code? I learned that "deep practice" is wonderful to witness and when my students engage in it outside of my assigned pieces I need to respect their work.
 I learned to look at the messages I send to my students about what I value. 

  I learned to spend more time refining the efforts I make in igniting a desire for "deep practice".
  I learned to value what I am good at and ponder my weaknesses. It is for this reason that I write this blog. To write about my ideas sparks greater motivation within me to be a better teacher and musician. 

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