Cognition:“The process of thought“.
On several occasions I have had a student ask me to teach him to sing while playing. This task seemed impossible for the student(s), I explained that this was a learned skill, which takes hours of practice. When I am playing, I will make a mistake if I stay focused on my fingers. Therefore, I perform better if i subconsciously play the instrument while I am consciously thinking of something else or singing.
I have started working with some of the students on this process, and getting good results within weeks of the training.
First, I find a song in the student’s repertoire which he/she can play well, and by memory. As the student starts playing, I start a conversation. I will ask what he had for lunch, and then question what was eaten in detail. I also ask about each class that was attended in school, and the activites and homework that was given.
The first several times I do this exercise, the student, after being asked a question like “What did you have for lunch today?”, will freeze up with eyes bulging and eyes opened wide. He keeps playing, but is speechless. After a few moments he will answer the question as he starts missing the notes, or just say “I don’t know”.
After doing this exercise during a couple of lessons, the student starts looking forward to the exercises. Within four to six weeks, the student starts answering questions and having a conversation while playing, without missing a note,
Adults and children alike share the same initial response (a look of horror). An adult student asked me a few nights ago how he could continue the exercise at home. I told him to play his songs while watching tv, reading a book, or talking to his wife. The adult student, a medical doctor, told me that this exercise helped train his brain to think on two levels: the conscious level and the subconsious level.
Try it. With yourself. With your students.