Is sight-reading music multi-tasking?

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Offline satrah

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Is sight-reading music multi-tasking?
« on: 10/05/2012 13:26:12 »
Is learning how to read music a form of multi tasking, a person has to perform many tasks at the same time. Visual skills to look at the music notes and to recognise the rhythm, proprioception to know where your arms, hands and fingers of both up limbs are in space, hearing to learn the rhythm, posture of body, death perception to know how much pressure to place on the sting fret with multiple fingers, independent use of fingers and memory. These have to be performed at the same time for everything to work so that one can learn how to read music and develop the skill. However, these skills are learnt at one stage at a time e.g. to start off slowly and get it perfect, then increase speed, plucking of all six strings on the right hand first in progression and the rest is graded in the difficulty of level. I am not an expert on reading music but have learnt the basics.  I would like to know can the setting of this single task of reading music from guitar be changed to other areas. Is it possible to lesson to the radio (the naked scientist) and read a book at the same time and understand both? we cannot control the radio speed in which they talk but can with the speed of reading and  to get it right start off very slowly, increasing speed and get both right. I have tried this but my reading speed is very slow but I can understand both and sometimes I have to re read the sentence.
If this is true how many other tasks can I add or change

   Singing opera musicals of lecture notes from uni e.g. anatomy and physiology, physics
   Cleaning while singing lecture notes in opera
   Have the radio on (the naked scientist) while cleaning, singing lecture notes in opera.

Im guessing that this type of skill will not develop over night and may take a while

Hope this make sense its only a theory that I have
« Last Edit: 18/05/2012 09:56:00 by chris »


Offline evan_au

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Re: Is sight-reading music multi-tasking?
« Reply #1 on: 03/06/2012 06:50:45 »
Our brain does many things simultaneously - breathing, digesting, walking, talking, dodging other people on the footpath, playing music, etc. All of these represent a form of multitasking.
But the things it does simultaneously it mostly does subconsciously.

When it comes to things like reading, writing/typing and talking, these activities seem to take place in a single "stream of consciousness", which consumes our attention. For myself (and most people I know), it does not work well trying to do two or more streams of these simultaneously, or subconsciously - one might proceed, and the other tends to get "stuck".

Whether this is an inherent part of our brain, I can't say-
  • We only have one mouth, so we can only really speak one sentence at a time
  • Most people only have one copy of Broca's area related to speech, localised on one side of the brain
  • Activities like listening and reading seem to activate some common areas of the brain, so perhaps they compete for brain resources
  • In a sense, music and mathematics are both specialised forms of language, and so they may compete for brain resources with speech?
  • Activities like taking dictation (writing what is heard) and reading (saying what is read) only consume one stream of consciousness
  • Simultaneous translators seem to be able to hear in one language and speak the same content in another language - far more challenging, but still one stream of consciousness
  • We do have two ears, two hands and two halves of the brain, so conceivably someone with a "split brain" could train both sides to hear and understand speech, and both hands to write - so they could take dictation on two subjects simultaneously(?)

To test this, why not engage in conversation with a musician who is sight-reading a score for the first time, and see how fluently their conversation and music proceeds - this will give an indication of how subconscious the sight-reading really is for this musician.

An amazing part of our mind and culture is that we are able to transmit information via sound, absorb it as a single stream of consciousness, and then train different aspects of it into our subconscious so that it can be subsequently exercised subconsciously and simultaneously - so we can turn our full attention to something else!

All the best on your brain-training!