The mind of the musician is seemingly disorganized, chaotic and simultaneously gorgeous, but is that really as true as stereotypes lead us to believe? Do those trained within varying genres have the same trains of thought or are all playing from completely different frequencies?
Musicians are typically placed in the category of whimsical, free-spirited and living on the edge. Even the most buttoned-up musicians still have a wild and almost animalistic side to them, where they are able to exist solely as a channel for the music to run itself through. To be able to become this vessel at a moment’s notice takes years of dedicated work, zero-ing in on one’s connection and understanding of sound. The more comfortable one becomes with it, the more second nature it is and it begins to appear almost effortless. The question here lies in whether or not there is actually some science behind the brain of the musician and whether a certain type of mind is attracted to the lifestyle and/or physical vibrations of music itself or if there is no rhyme or reason to any of this and it’s simply luck of the draw!
Research has shown that musician’s tend to have stronger structural and functional connections due to decades of training and sharpening their mind, yet there was found to be almost no difference between those who had perfect pitch and those who did not.
Did you know that when interacting with music in alternating levels, you’re actually using different parts of your brain? When you’re processing the specifics such as pitch, tempo and melody, you’re using parts of the left hemisphere, yet listening and producing music is done with the right side of the brain. That right there starts us off with a conundrum of sorts. The musician is scattered even within its own hemispheres, however this can really come in quite handy when we need to get creative at a moment’s notice.
Classic FM’s research shows that “Classical pianists tend to focus on the second step – the 'how'. This means their focus is on technique and the personal expression they add to the piece. Jazz pianists on the other hand focus on the ‘what’, meaning they are always prepared to improvise and adapt the notes they're playing.” In short, the Classical pianists stuck to the method and strategy of playing the specific notes and fingerings listed, while the Jazz musician’s brain patterns were shown to go into action faster when needing to shift to a different harmonization, needing to adapt quickly and off the cuff.
Now, akin to the debate of nature vs. nurture, the question is, are the brains of these preferred genres naturally this way, or did a certain style of teaching and playing mold the minds of these musicians? We vote that it’s more likely a little closer to the latter.
Much like the rest of life, what it comes down to is an entirely massive question mark. Due to the fact that there are so many variables to consider, such as environment, teaching methods, genre specifics, techniques and just natural stylings, it’s too difficult to place all musicians into one category. So, this will be a topic where we’ll have to throw caution to the wind and just embrace all of the wacky and beautiful aspects of being a music maker.