Friday, July 15, 2011

The Amazing Plastic Man!

Plastic Man gawks at a Picasso.
April 19th, 1999 cover of The New Yorker.
Painted by Art Spiegelman.
After reading a book on neuroplasticity (The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science by Norman Doidge -- strongly recommended), I've decided that it is not, in fact, a completely impossible reality that some day I could sing on key.

Neuroplasticity is not just that the more you use your brain for certain tasks, the better you get at those tasks (practice makes perfect!), but also that your brain actually changes its structure to allot more real estate for those tasks because of that. And that's true even for old brains, so you can, in fact, teach an old dog new tricks (although it may take a little bit longer than with a puppy brain).

What does neuroplasticity have to do with singing? It means that I can train my brain to hear differences and because I put my attention to that task, my brain will change because of that. The more that I can hear differences, the more able I will be to reproduce them accurately.

I downloaded a freebie ear training software today and felt my brain getting smarter all the while, a decidedly odd feeling, to notice my brain catching on to important details. I can now tell the difference between a major and minor 2nd.

Maria Callas, I'll never be. But maybe I'll offend people just a little bit less at stoplights when I forget to stop singing or roll up my window.

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