Modems and Myelin

Most of my studio members don’t remember dial-up modems but a few do.  I remember moving up from a 14.4 to a 28.8 and how *screamingly* fast it was!  Seems quaint now.

Today in master class I spoke a bit about The Talent Code by Dan Coyle.  One element of this book is a discussion of myelin, an insulating material that wraps around nerves.  Here’s a short video about it.   In short: myelin wraps around neurons, allowing them to fire more quickly (“a high speed rail upgrade for your brain”).   In other words: repeat an action (helpful or unhelpful) and that sequence becomes more automatic.

This provides a sort of medical underpinning to that time-tested adage:

Once you get it right, the practicing begins.

It fascinates me to think that I’m actually changing my brain with repetition in my practicing.

One important point:

Children do this instinctively and often find pleasure in it.

Sometimes as adult learners, we see repetition as drudgery or punishment.  If we allow ourselves to become more childlike in our learning, actually enjoying ‘nailing’ a lick over and over, we not only improve but enjoy it as well.  Consider this video from the world of cup-stacking.