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Musician's Mind: Teaching, Learning, and Performance in the Age of Brain Science

by Lynn Helding Rowman and Littlefield
Pub Date:
Pbk 350 pages
AU$52.99 NZ$55.64
Product Status: In Stock Now
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Where does learning begin and how is it sustained and stored in the brain? For musicians, these questions are at the very core of their creative lives. Cognitive and neuroscience have flung wide the doors of our understanding, but bridging the gap between research data and music-making requires a unique immersion in both worlds.   


Lynn Helding presents a symphony of discoveries that illuminate how musicians can optimize their mental wellbeing and cognitive abilities. She addresses common brain myths, motor learning research and the concept of deliberate practice, the values of instructional feedback, technology’s role in attention disorders, the challenges of parenting young musicians, performance anxiety and its solutions, and the emerging importance of music as a social justice issue.  


More than an exploration of the brain, The Musician’s Mind is an inspiring call for artists to promote the cultivation of emotion and empathy as cornerstones of a civilized society. No matter your instrument or level of musical ability, this book will reveal to you a new dynamic appreciation for the mind’s creative power.

Introduction: A New Enchantment

A New Enchantment
The Brain on Music
The “Mozart Effecta
Music and the Mind

Chapter 1: Science, Art and The Missing Mind

What Revolution?
Mindless Behaviorism
The New Science of Mind
Music as a Weapon
Science and Art
C.P. Snow's “Two Culturesa
The “Third Culturea
The Theory of Multiple Intelligences
The Rescue of Emotion
The Other Half of the Truth
The Mind-Body Problem
Cautious Enchantment

Chapter 2: Groundwork: at the Foothills

Neuromyths and Brainscams
In the Shadow of the “Mozart Effecta
Tracking a Scientific Legend
Exposure Is Not Learning
The Left Brain - Right Brain Dichotomy
Brain Personalities and Learning Styles
Real Brain Gains
What is the Use of Music?
The Big One
Know-That and Know-How
How the Thing Works

Chapter 3: How Learning Works

Two Basic Modes of Information Processing
Learning Defined
The Triumvirate of Learning
Step One: Attention
Attention Aides: Emotion and Desire
Attention Aides: Motivation and Rewards
Attention Aide: Goal-Setting
Attention Aide: Sleep
Step Two: Learning
Constructed Memories
Step Three: Memory
Neurogenesis and Neural Plasticity
The Plastic Paradox
Back to the Body

Chapter 4: Learned Movement: Motor Learning

The Question is How, Not What
Motor Learning and Performance
Differences Between Learning and Performance
Performance Shifts: Upsides and Downsides
Negative Performance Shifts and 'Unlearning'
The Path to Carnegie Hall
Three Rule of Practice
Motor Imagery: Thinking About Doing
Controlled versus Automatic Processes: Learning/Have Learned
Inherent Feedback
Singers' Alternative Facts: Cognitive Dissonance
Augmented Feedback
Concurrent Augmented Feedback
Terminal Feedback
Feedback Frequency
Knowledge of Performance and Knowledge of Results
Too Much Information?
Hands Off
The Theory of Attentional Focus
Attentional Focus in Music
Novice Learners and Internal Focus
Challenges to “The Maxima and “Just-do-ita
Flexible Attention
Planning for Disruptions: Training How to Think
Training Embodied Cognition

Chapter 5: Performance Studies

Deliberate Practice
Cognitive Demands of Deliberate Practice
Emotional Demands of Deliberate Practice
Beyond Deliberate Practice
Early Starts and Caring Mentors
Tiger Moms and Helicopter Parents
The Inverse Power of Praise
Building Motivation
Self-Esteem Theory
The Talent Account: So What?

Toxic Talent and Social Justice
The Good Enough Musician

Chapter 6: Mind Games

Break A Leg! - and Other Mind Games
Music Performance Anxiety (MPA)
Causes of MPA
The Physiological Basis of Performance Anxiety
Beyond MPA
Choking Under Pressure
Causes of Choking: The Theory of Explicit Monitoring
Causes of Choking: The Theory of Distraction
The White Bear Problem and the Ironic Effect
The Upside of Anxiety
Researched Treatments for MPA
Standard Psychotherapies for MPA
Alternative Therapies for MPA
Alexander Technique
Experimental Strategies for MPA
Exposure Therapy and Stress Conditioning
Resilience Training
Power Posing
Holistic Word Cues
“Avoid Avoidinga
Stories of MPA
Importance of Venue and Evaluative Threat
An Antidote to Perfectionism
Embody the Fear
Deliberate Practice Redux
Routines and Rituals
“Deliberate Calma
The Upside of Quitting
Good Luck – and Break a Leg!

Chapter 7: the Digital Brain

Digital Heaven
Trouble in Paradise: The "Screen Invasiona
Multitasking: “Dumbing Down the Worlda
Interruption Science and Acquired ADD
Zebras Don't Multitask, Either
Internet Addiction
Who is Minding the Store?
The Plastic Paradox and Digital Technology
Who Cares if You Listen? The Problem of Audience Attention
Dialing Down Empathy

Chapter 8: Emotion, Empathy and the Unification of Art and Science

Understanding Empathy
Paying Attention To Empathy
Empathy And Goodness
Empathy And Bias
Leveraging Homophily
Instilling Empathy Through Art
Coda: The Fourth Culture And The Unification Of Art And Science

Lynn Helding serves as associate professor of vocal pedagogy and studio voice teacher at Thornton School of Music. Ms. Helding is a thought-leader within the dynamic field of contemporary voice science, or vocology, and thus was elected to head the founding of the first non-profit vocology association, PAVA. She is an associate editor of the Journal of Singing and creator/author of the journal's “Mindful Voicea column, which illuminates current research in the cognitive, neuro- and social sciences as they relate to music teaching, learning and performance. She is in demand as a master teacher and popular lecturer on cognitive topics at universities, conferences and workshops across the United States and Canada.