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Old 01-11-2019, 06:20 AM   #4
Holy smoking keyboard!
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: London Town
Posts: 5,188
Default Re: Over thinking the movements

Originally Posted by piper Q View Post
He seems to learn more by visual and repetition of motion

It's important to note that the concept of "learning styles" is neurologically bunkum; it's been widely taught but there's no actual evidence that it is true, or that if it is true that it makes a difference. People subscribe to it because they've latched onto something they can do and it lets them avoid learning other tools.

One theory that *is* scientific and worth knowing about is called Cognitive Load Theory. There is a lot of background to it, but the gist of it is this: you can only hold 3-4 items in working memory, and if you try and execute a task that requires more information to be held in working memory, you will fail.

This is something we intuitively know: practice in small chunks, learn the techniques before the tunes, etc. But when you're faced with a student struggling, try itemising what the student has to hold in working memory here. All too often there's a combination of rhythm, technique, notes and style that massively exceeds the capacity of our short-term memory.

The other thing that people often do is they do things that are not assisting the movement. Look for the flappy elbow when playing a throw on D, or the pulse of breath when executing a tricky note change. I explain this to students as "energy", and then ask them to minimise the "energy" that comes through a particular movement. The difference in sound can be remarkable.

As for rhythm; it isn't a separate subject, and should be part of the tune right from the start. The problem is usually that the student has no model for rhythm as they have no history of listening to Scottish or bagpipe music. A syllabus of listening material that should be seen as part of their daily practice is a very worthwhile idea.
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