This Post is all about Science! Yes science on a music blog… there is a point, trust me.
Have you ever been practicing something for ages and you’re just not quite getting it? If thats the case then it is probably time to take a break! This is important for many reasons so lets look at why.
Inside your brain there are tiny cells called neurons, and these cells are responsible for transmitting information throughout our brain. When we do literally ANYTHING these little guys are going crazy sending little electronic signals to each other through what is called pathways, However for a neuron to send these signals through a pathway they must first build one. This is what happens when you learn a new skill, a new groove, a new scale or a new juggling trick… your brain is building pathways.
Think of pathways like bridges, you need to be able to build a bridge before you can cross it and depending on the size and complexity of a bridge this can take some serious time! So… if you try and cross these bridges (attempting the new skill ) before the brain has had proper time and practice to do so, you may find yourself falling off the bridge into a messy mess of mess.
So Mitchel, what is the best way to practice with the new information that just totally blew my mind?!
It can vary from person to person, however on average the best way to practice would be 20 minutes of focused practice, and anything from a 2-5 minute break would work perfectly. This break allows the brain to finish making these connects between neurons and hopefully when you go back to that annoying scale or groove, you should be able to notice a significant difference.
For those of you who take drum lessons or guitar lessons from me, you will know I'm very fond of suddenly changing the focus of a lesson, one moment we may be looking a new beat placements, and the next we will be throwing some mini basketballs around the studio for 30 seconds! Taking your mind completely off the task very briefly will relax the brain, relax the muscles, and almost ‘reset’ them so they are ready and prepared for the next 20 minutes of practice!
If you want to know more about the mind, how we learn, and how to best incorporate it into your practice routine, feel free to ask me in one of your guitar lessons, bass lessons, what ever it is we have, and we can work together to find a routine that works for you!