how does muscle memory work

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accordian
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how does muscle memory work

Post by accordian » Wed Jan 10, 2018 10:50 pm

forgive me as i'm asking a question about the bass again. just so you know although you're not sposed to look at the keyboard as you play it gives me one less thing to learn at the moment.

at the moment I want to focus on bass jumps so I can just play. and I can then focus on keyboard later

ok so here's my question I read that muscle memory helps you do bass jumps however that being said it feels like as soon as I stop practicing I forget how to do what I was practicing in the first place and then when I try playing whatever the jump/s are I get them wrong. how do I use muscle memory or is it just the science behind how someone gets better at something. or can I actually use it to my advantage

eg. when I play do I have to just do it and not think about it as then in my theory it seems as though that would cause more error.

thanks for your time

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Re: how does muscle memory work

Post by Happy girl » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:32 am

If you use the search box, there are 96 matches for muscle memory on this site

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Re: how does muscle memory work

Post by accordian » Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:49 am

while true i can't ind any responses that help with this question

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Re: how does muscle memory work

Post by debra » Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:05 am

Muscle memory is memory (in the brain, not the muscles) that give muscles the right (nerve) signals to repeat an action learned over very many repetitions. It offloads the cognitive effort we need to perform these moves. We only need to consciously think of which move we want and the rest feels like it is "automatic".
I don't know the brain science behind it, only the effect.

While you have received some criticism on this forum about overconcentrating on the bass parts and bass jumps the basic principle is sound: to play well with two hands, where the left hand is comping on Stradella bass you can free up brain power for the cognitive load of playing with the right hand by training the left hand so that the jumps require no more cognitive effort.
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Re: how does muscle memory work

Post by accordian » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:27 am

debra wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:05 am
Muscle memory is memory (in the brain, not the muscles) that give muscles the right (nerve) signals to repeat an action learned over very many repetitions. It offloads the cognitive effort we need to perform these moves. We only need to consciously think of which move we want and the rest feels like it is "automatic".
I don't know the brain science behind it, only the effect.

While you have received some criticism on this forum about overconcentrating on the bass parts and bass jumps the basic principle is sound: to play well with two hands, where the left hand is comping on Stradella bass you can free up brain power for the cognitive load of playing with the right hand by training the left hand so that the jumps require no more cognitive effort.
I see. It's just although I'm only starting with seven months of practice what baffles me is how it sounds as though you sorta go from doing it "manually" to "automatic" perhaps i'm overthinking it i'm not sure (probably lol) like I've said iv'e been practising 2 songs lambada and song of storms in which one minute I will have them 100% and start adding my own bits eg. dramatising certain parts by making it louder etc. and then it seems as though every note I play is wrong.

I've literally spent months on these 2 songs.

thanks for your advice

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Re: how does muscle memory work

Post by Anyanka » Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:25 am

You do eventually go to automatic, but it takes a fair while! Do you drive? If so, do you remember how many hours of driving it took before you did not need to think about your hands and feet?

There are four stages of learning: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and finally unconscious competence. The last one is the 'automatic' stage. All the time that you THINK about doing things automatically, you're still conscious of them, so forget about trying to get there and just keep playing.

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Re: how does muscle memory work

Post by accordian » Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:20 pm

Anyanka wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:25 am
You do eventually go to automatic, but it takes a fair while! Do you drive? If so, do you remember how many hours of driving it took before you did not need to think about your hands and feet?

There are four stages of learning: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and finally unconscious competence. The last one is the 'automatic' stage. All the time that you THINK about doing things automatically, you're still conscious of them, so forget about trying to get there and just keep playing.
I spose the 4 stages can also be said for when doing 2 hands for accordion

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Re: how does muscle memory work

Post by george garside » Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:22 pm

to get memory, autopilot or whatever you want to call it functioning well it pays to stick to a small number of tunes in the early days , say up to a year!

The common habit of ''tune hopping'' or I know x number of tunes and can play the right notes in the right order is a road to nowhere. Stick to a few simple tunes and both ends of the box together until you can just pick up the box and playe them well which takes a geat deal more than the right notes in the right order!

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Re: how does muscle memory work

Post by JerryPH » Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:25 pm

What no one is taking in to consideration is that muscle memory is NOT developed over months... it comes over YEARS of doing the same thing over and over.

I think your expectations are totally unrealistic.

Concentrate on playing and stop worrying about shortcuts. If you are serious about any instrument, it takes YEARS of practice... you are not even close to ONE year and already looking for fixes. Bad move. You waste so much time overthinking things that won't help you. Concentrate on playing... BOTH hands. Your playing will improve in time. ;)
My musical memoires blog/website: http://www.AccordionMemories.com

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Re: how does muscle memory work

Post by wout » Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:38 pm

I agree with jerry. You just need to be more patient and practice. The beginning is hard I remember that but at some point you will get the hang of it. Some people need more time and some people less.
Just keep on playing simple songs that you would enjoy getting the hang of and thats it. The rest will follow.

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Re: how does muscle memory work

Post by Anyanka » Thu Jan 11, 2018 3:03 pm

accordian wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:20 pm
Anyanka wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:25 am

There are four stages of learning: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and finally unconscious competence. The last one is the 'automatic' stage. All the time that you THINK about doing things automatically, you're still conscious of them, so forget about trying to get there and just keep playing.
I spose the 4 stages can also be said for when doing 2 hands for accordion
Yes, these 4 stages apply to any new process you acquire.

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Re: how does muscle memory work

Post by Tom » Thu Jan 11, 2018 3:37 pm

What George said is so true. It's been said so many times but bears repeating, especially since I went through the same wrong technique. You start with ONE tune that you play with some sort of backing track (I use iReal pro). When you can do that one, add another, etc. You will eventually encounter a bass jump you can't do (like for me Am to Bb). Keep at it, playing each tune at least once a day, until the memory makes it automatic. And then continue to play each tune at least once a day, even the ones you know.

Ok, it is going to be boring. It's part of the game. What I do is play x minutes of working on my "repertoire " and then reward myself by playing anything I want for y minutes.

Good luck, you can do it!!!!!

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Re: how does muscle memory work

Post by debra » Thu Jan 11, 2018 3:43 pm

I fully agree with Jerry and others that muscle memory develops over years of practice. I want to add that age plays an important role: when you are between say 10 and 15 you can develop muscle memory for jumps in a few months that take a few years to master when you are say over 40 or so. While our brain can learn things throughout our life, developing the automatism goes worse and worse as we age.
When I started the switch from PA to CBA I started with a complex solo part for Oblivion (by Piazzolla) and performed this in public after just over one week of practice, with an accordion ensemble to accompany me. It took intense practice and after one week I could play this one piece very well, but absolutely nothing else. Learning to play the accordion by trying two songs over and over for half a year is not the best approach. You need to train muscle memory by means of boring exercises: scales, chords (and notes of chords in series), bass jumps (separately, not as part of a song), bass scales, etc. It sure sounds like more fun to just try some songs, but methodical study (using study books written specifically for this is the right (but more boring) way to go.
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Re: how does muscle memory work

Post by TomBR » Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:05 pm

Anyanka wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:25 am
There are four stages of learning: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and finally unconscious competence. The last one is the 'automatic' stage. All the time that you THINK about doing things automatically, you're still conscious of them, so forget about trying to get there and just keep playing.
.. and there's the problem sometimes, when you're playing something well, perhaps in a situation with a bit more pressure than usual, and your conscious mind gets worried, tries to interfere or take over, and everything goes wrong!

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Re: how does muscle memory work

Post by TomBR » Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:08 pm

debra wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 3:43 pm
..... after one week I could play this one piece very well, but absolutely nothing else........
I remember reading about a performer, maybe in variety, music hall or vaudeville, whose act consisted of playing lots of different musical instruments brilliantly. The trick was, he only ever learned one piece on each instrument....

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Re: how does muscle memory work

Post by Mike D » Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:22 pm

It probably works by using many of these. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26384712

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Re: how does muscle memory work

Post by Corinto » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:42 pm

Interesting thread ... interesting comments ... thanks guys.
TomBR wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:05 pm
... and there's the problem sometimes, when you're playing something well, perhaps in a situation with a bit more pressure than usual, and your conscious mind gets worried, tries to interfere or take over, and everything goes wrong!
debra wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 3:43 pm
I fully agree with Jerry and others that muscle memory develops over years of practice. I want to add that age plays an important role: when you are between say 10 and 15 you can develop muscle memory for jumps in a few months that take a few years to master when you are say over 40 or so. While our brain can learn things throughout our life, developing the automatism goes worse and worse as we age.
Unfortunately that's more than true, age slows down learning, I can confirm, unfortunately ...
wout wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:38 pm
You just need to be more patient and practice. ... Just keep on playing simple songs that you would enjoy getting the hang of and that's it. The rest will follow.
JerryPH wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:25 pm
What no one is taking in to consideration is that muscle memory is NOT developed over months... it comes over YEARS of doing the same thing over and over. ... I think your expectations are totally unrealistic. ... Concentrate on playing and stop worrying about shortcuts. If you are serious about any instrument, it takes YEARS of practice... you are not even close to ONE year and already looking for fixes. Bad move. You waste so much time overthinking things that won't help you. Concentrate on playing... BOTH hands. Your playing will improve in time. ;)
george garside wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:22 pm
to get memory, autopilot or whatever you want to call it functioning well it pays to stick to a small number of tunes in the early days , say up to a year! ... play them well takes a great deal more than the right notes in the right order!
Anyanka wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:25 am
There are four stages of learning: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and finally unconscious competence. The last one is the 'automatic' stage. All the time that you THINK about doing things automatically, you're still conscious of them, so forget about trying to get there and just keep playing.
Carpe diem, C.

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Re: how does muscle memory work

Post by JeffJetton » Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:23 pm

Practice slowly enough that you get the notes correct almost every single time. Even if that's really, really, really, really slow. And focus on very specific problem spots, rather than working on 100 different things at a time.

When you do that, it "lights up" neural pathways in the brain. Among other things, that activity in turn strengthens those pathways by signaling the creation of more myelin around the neurons.

This is sort of like wearing a path in the grass that eventually becomes a dirt path. The dirt path soon tells your city's public works department that this is a useful and popular path, so maybe they come out and put down some gravel. Then, as more people travel on it, and it keeps getting improved, you eventually wind up with a superhighway!

If you instead try to practice too many things too quickly, with frequent mistakes, that's like wandering aimlessly across the grass to all sorts of destinations. You never get the chance to wear down a single, true, well-worn path. All sorts of neural pathways are getting used--some correct ones and a bunch of wrongs ones. There's no clear signal as to which path should get "paved over". You never reinforce the movements that your "muscles" (your brain, really) should memorize, so muscle memory is slow to develop, if it ever does at all.

Real Daniel Coyle's "The Talent Code" for more on this, plus other great tips.

"First, Learn to Practice" by Tom Heany is very good to.

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Re: how does muscle memory work

Post by Glenn » Sat Jan 13, 2018 7:32 am

accordian wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:27 am

I've literally spent months on these 2 songs.
You really must move on to some new music. I predict that in a few months you’ll lose interest and accordion will be history for you. Start some new songs and come back to these pieces in a few months. You’ll be surprised how easily you pick them up again and at your learning stage play them even better.
1) Ballone Burini 46C (4+5) cassotto (LMMH) 3/3 PA; 2) Accordiola Piano V (5+5) cassotto (LMMMH) 3/3 PA;
3) Roland FR8X; 4) Hohner Vox 4k (LMMH) 3/3 CBA

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Re: how does muscle memory work

Post by Happy girl » Sat Jan 13, 2018 11:38 am

I have just ordered "First, Learn to Practice" by Tom Hean, thank you for the recommendation Jeff.

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