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  • jwh784

Strong Impressions

Updated: Jun 8, 2021

New Zealand is an amazing, unforgettable place. It is peculiarly habitable in many respects; unlike its larger and hotter neighbor down under, there are no native creatures that will kill you, or even make you particularly miserable. There are no apex predators to drag you out of your tent and eat you, no deadly snakes or spiders to inject you with neurotoxins. So long as you stay out of the water and away from the stinging nettles you’ll probably be ok.



One thing New Zealand does have is Wetas, very large insects that look a like a grasshopper crossed with Jabba the Hutt. There are a number of different species, the largest being the Giant Weta, which is the world’s heaviest insect — heavier than a mouse. Remarkable creatures. Some Wetas, especially the Giant Weta, are now endangered, thanks to the rats that accompanied European settlers. Captive breeding is underway to save them (the Wetas) from extinction. Wetas are, fortunately, herbivorous and completely harmless.


Unless you count the psychological damage that results when you get up in the middle of the night to pee and step on one barefoot in the dark. Evidently my roommate's cat had brought it in to play with; they are not house-dwellers. The combination of crunch and squish is as indescribable as it is indelible.


My clarinet students often struggle to remember stuff. Like an A flat major scale, or to get the right hand fingers down early when going from the throat register to the second register. We’ll get it down in one lesson, but by the next lesson the skill will have evaporated. There may be multiple reasons, but it is possible that they practice with insufficient intensity. A bland, beige event or piece of information doesn’t make much of an impression, even with many repetitions. An intense event, however, whether it’s intense pain or surprise or pleasure or emotion, sticks with you and you’ll remember it in detail even if it only happens once.


Like stepping barefoot on an insect the size of a gerbil.

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jwh784
Jun 04, 2021

It depends on what is being repeated. One of my teaching/practicing mantras is that mere repetition is corrosive. It takes a lot of attention early in the process to make sure the correct movements/sequences are being reinforced, and a lot of attention throughout the process to keep bad habits from creeping in. There’s the saying that practice does not make perfect, it makes permanent. PERFECT practice makes perfect, that takes concentration. Some students do make the mistake of practicing past the point of mental exhaustion, but it’s rare.


Also, I think that really effective practice does involve a bit of stress. Apart from the intensity needed to get a passage or technique exactly right before repeating it — and…

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freevito
Jun 03, 2021
We’ll get it down in one lesson, but by the next lesson the skill will have evaporated. There may be multiple reasons, but it is possible that they practice with insufficient intensity.

Or frequency. At least that's my guitar/bass/drums/keyboard/recorder/Native American flute experience. There's no doubt that intensity (i.e., focus, repetition, persistence) is a requisite element of achieving lock-in, but for me there's a point where intensity becomes counterproductive. I start making "stupid" mistakes that I normally wouldn't make...stuff like getting left and right hand movements confused/intermixed.


I'm not sure it works that way for everyone, though. For my part, I'm sure some of it has to do with brain function. The left/right confusion is the clue; I'm mildly dyslexic. When…


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