Neurology, learning, and the benefits of meditation for musicians

lxh039

Member
Everything we do in our lives, from the most simple and fleeting thoughts to the most complex endeavors, are affected (and limited) by our brains' capabilities to accomplish the task at hand. Be it technical, emotional, or spiritual, anything we wish to accomplish requires the appropriate neurological hardware (neurons, axons, dendrites, etc) and cognitive software (ideas, concepts, associations, etc). When we try to learn new concepts and skills, our brains are forced to form new "hardware" and "software" in order to accommodate the learning.

Now, I know this is a simplification which may ignore some details or context, but our brains can accommodate the new "hardware" demands in one of two way. First, it can generate new axons, which are the connections between neurons that "carry" synapses, thereby allowing existing brain cells to function more efficiently in regards to the skill being learned. This is the "easier" of the two options for an adult brain. The second, and much more complex option, is for the brain to actually construct new neurons which are specialized for the new skill. This is more difficult because the human brain, as it ages, gradually loses the ability to produce new neurons, but it is also much more effective. This ability is referred to as "neuroplasticity", and it's why children generally will be able to learn new skills faster than an adult, despite being less focused and less dedicated. A highly plastic brain will be able to master a new skill much more quickly than others.

Neuroplasticity, and particularly how to improve it, is a major area of research in modern neuroscience and neurology, because unusually low neural plasticity has been linked to a whole range of behavioral disorders, such as depression, addiction, and even schizophrenia. While a few drugs and therapies have been found to improve plasticity, one of the most effective methods of improvement scientists have found is meditation, particularly transcendental meditation and mindfulness meditation (or zazen). Some studies actually indicate that dedicated, daily meditation can return some people to the plasticity levels they experienced during childhood.

Have any of you ever tried using meditation to speed up your improvement as a drummer? Did you notice any changes in your learning pace? Any thoughts?
 

3rd Wheel

Junior Member
This is very interesting. Thank you for taking the time to write this. I have delved into a sort of re-programming in regards to bad habits. I read somewhere that in order to be a certain way (happier, take action, being positive) requires re-wiring of sorts in the brain. As it relates to meditation, there is this, well, I'm not sure what to call it. My wife listens to it daily, some sort of calming speech or direction given by Deepak Chopra. I want to listen to it daily as I think it might help with taking initiative, staying focused and being a nicer gentler person over all.

I' m not sure I'm aligned with your idea, but I am glad I came across your post.
 

drummer-russ

Gold Member
I have not used meditation but I have used some things that I have learned from being in the adult training business.

For me I learned through online tests that I am a visual learner. For that reason I chart out the songs my band is working on. It helps me to learn by wrtiting and then seeing what needs to be done. I remember small details very well if I write them down. For instnace the song Dirty White Boy has five refrains of "Dirty White Boy" first sung as lead and then echoed in harmony. The drum parts for each of these are different. I wrote them down and now can recall them easily.

The other excercise I undertake is to test myself by trying to recall the way a song starts and anticipate the drum part changes before they happen right after chart it. Recall has to occur for the brain to transfer the information from short term memory to long term memory.

In my view the meditation should help toallow the correct side of your brain to execute and not be stuck kin the mechanics already happening that might be wrong or even if right, getting too much attention from your brain.
 

TheDrumster

Senior Member
Neuroplasticity, and particularly how to improve it, is a major area of research in modern neuroscience and neurology, because unusually low neural plasticity has been linked to a whole range of behavioral disorders, such as depression, addiction, and even schizophrenia. While a few drugs and therapies have been found to improve plasticity, one of the most effective methods of improvement scientists have found is meditation, particularly transcendental meditation and mindfulness meditation (or zazen). Some studies actually indicate that dedicated, daily meditation can return some people to the plasticity levels they experienced during childhood.

Any literature supporting this?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Have any of you ever tried using meditation to speed up your improvement as a drummer? Did you notice any changes in your learning pace? Any thoughts?
I have...accidentally. I was doing an exercise where I try and bury the click with alternating stick hits, pretty slow. 40 BPM.

I noticed after a half hour I put my self in a meditative state and my senses became heightened. I could hear stuff that went right by me in the first 20 minutes. It took me at least 20 minutes to clear all the chatter from my head, and after that I was like a mirror lake. It was really, really cool. The next half hour was amazing. I need to revisit that exercise. Did I notice changes? It really helped ingrain steady time into my brain. From what you are saying it is highly beneficial to be in a trance like state. I'm on board with that, the brain is amazing. I'm also down with neuroplasticity. I totally believe that some people suffer because of the non plasticity of their brains. I prefer to call them low functioning individuals lol. I have a few of them in my life.

Yea I'm talking to you Phil. :p
 

JimFiore

Silver Member
I've read a bit on the subject of neural plasticity and the one thing that stuck with me is working on things before bedtime. You actually need some sleep for your brain to "re-wire". I find that if I practice something before retiring, even something short, the next day I will be able to do it much better. More than you might expect, that is.

Not a good double blind test to be sure, but a little anecdotal evidence doesn't hurt.
 
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