mindGrazing

chewing ideas down to stubble, then moving on…

Update: Saga of a Love Affair

Posted by Jason on January 21, 2009

When I decided to play guitar again, I thought it would probably last a day or two and then fizzle out. It’s happened before. I get all excited about playing again, just enough to dig a guitar out of the closet and make a giant mess. I play for a day or two, and then I forget about it, or we have to clean house for friends to come over and the guitar and music stand go bye-bye.

This is what I expected of myself. To my surprise, I played guitar every day except Friday of last week (even though I really wanted to). I took the long weekend off, but I still really felt like playing the guitar even if my hands were beat up from yard work or changing a toilet or whatever. Those four days without playing could have been the nail in the coffin, but I decided to play a bit on my lunch break yesterday. This morning I looked at my little music nook and decided I’m actually going to clean up the living room in order to be able to play guitar after school today. Crazy, isn’t it?

What has really been interesting to me is the power of memory, specifically the kinesthetic or tactile memory. I’m playing things that I learned 5 years ago in Spain and haven’t really played since. I have some books that are helping me remember and develop the basic musical structures of the different flamenco songs, but some of the solos I learned by imitation from my teacher in Spain are all coming back to me. A couple I’ve played since then, but many I’ve not. Very interesting.

There is a lot of truth in the old adage of “it’s just like riding a bike: you never forget.” It is widely known that, of all the different types of memory we have, kinesthetic is the second strongest. Smell/taste is the first. Because your brain and muscles work so hard with so many repetitions in order to learn a physical skill or a fine motor movement, this link is seemingly unbreakable once formed. Obviously, memories will fade without use, but physical memories and smell/taste memories will be the last to go.

It’s also important to exercise your brain and force yourself to remember things sometimes. For instance, I’ve been working out of these flamenco guitar books at home the past week. Even though I didn’t bring them to work with me, I still made the decision to practice a little bit on my lunch break. Now, did I just twiddle around and play all the songs I’ve know for years and years? No. I wanted to play the flamenco stuff that I’d been working on in my books. While I exercised my memory by trying to remember stuff from my books, it also jogged my memory of the stuff I learned years ago that wasn’t in my books.

It’s pretty fascinating to see what our brains can come up with when we turn them on and actually use them…

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3 Responses to “Update: Saga of a Love Affair”

  1. […] Flamenco Now Staff wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptI have some books that are helping me remember and develop the basic musical structures of the different flamenco songs, but some of the solos I learned by imitation from my teacher in Spain are all coming back to me. … Read the rest of this great post here Posted in Uncategorized on January 21st, 2009 | […]

  2. ggw_bach said

    my piano playing comes and goes … wish i could work it into a daily routine. The only way to get really good at an instrument.

    good luck on the guitar!

  3. You are so right – the mind is a miraculous thing. It just wants a little love and attention.

    I really wish I’d have learned an instrument when I was younger. I’ve been thinking about asking our neighbor, who plays guitar, to help teach my own children. Maybe they won’t have the same regrets as I.

    Keep up the practice!

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