All posts by Alan Coady

Habit

These words from psychologist William James (brother of The Turn of the Screw author, Henry James) got me thinking about the importance  of embodying good habits and avoiding bad ones when learning instruments:

”Could the young but realize how soon they will become mere walking bundles of habits, they would give more heed to their conduct while in the plastic state.”

This quote came from an article on one of my favourite websites, Brainpickings. You can read the full article here: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/09/25/william-james-on-habit/

The Write Practice

Do you ever feel uncertain of grammar or punctuation when writing reports? This is not a thing which can be fixed overnight but perhaps subscribing to a site like Daily Writing Tips  might be a help. I’ve received a daily email update from them for quite a while now and, quite frequently, things come up about which I’ve been uncertain for years. The email subscription link is at the top right of their homepage.

Here’s a link to all their grammatical matters

to Grammar 101

to punctuation

and, like, finally – here’s one for our times….

“Like” serves nouns and pronouns, not verbs

Sight-reading and expectation

I recently took part in some interesting research in that intriguing Venn diagram intersection of music/language/psychology.

To ensure that the tests weren’t skewed by knowledge of what was being studied (so called Observer Effect) I simply followed instructions and asked later. Basically I sat at a piano keyboard prepared to sight-read various short musical samples for right hand only. My eyes were tracked so that the researcher could see exactly what I looked at and for how long.
One thing which became clear was that I looked down at my hands too often, even although there was a square on Middle C and a thin Blue Tack ridge on the G above that. The span of notes involved was a 13th ( from the G below Middle C to the E above the next C up).
Once it was all over, it was explained to me that the research was looking to see whether our eyes would linger over odd and incongruous moments the way they do when we read language. For example, “the cat sat on the sat” will, unless you are a modernist poet, make your eyes linger on the final word, which doesn’t, in any conventional sense really “fit”. Musical equivalents included, for example, an excerpt in the key of D in which the sharps which qualified it as ‘being in D’ were cancelled by natural signs. Interestingly, the weren’t many rhythmically weird moments – probably because that would have made the reading tricky. What was being sought was our reaction to oddness – not difficulty.
When I find out more about the results I will ( with the blessing of the researcher) post more.

Conference

I’m going along to The Child’s Curriculum on Saturday, hosted by Edinburgh University’s Institute for Music in Human and Social Develpment.Hosted in Queen Street’s Royal College of Surgeons‘ buildings,speakers include Professor Aline-Wendy Dunlop, Professor Leena Alanen, Galina Doyla, Professor Colwyn Trevarthen, Kenny Spence, Professor Nigel Osborne, Tam Baillie, Professor Donald Christie, Joan Martlew.

I’ll post any intersting outcomes here later…

Open Goldberg

Those studying composing/arranging and listening in SQA Music exams pretty soon come upon variation form. If you’re lucky enough to have an iPhone or iPad you can download a free app containing a recording by Kimiko Ishizaka along with a score (with moving cursor) of one of the best sets of variations of all time, Bach’s Goldberg Variations.

You can get the iPhone app here  http://www.opengoldbergvariations.org/soundsnips-free-iphone-app-featuring-open-goldberg-variations

and the iPad version here:

http://www.opengoldbergvariations.org/musescore-releases-free-ipad-app-open-goldberg-variations