Episode 4 is up with Dani Joy & Perry!
***On hiatus until after our Reno Ukulele Festival. See you in October! (Although I might sneak one in over the summer.
Can listening to a podcast improve your ukulele playing? Absolutely! This podcast is about supplementing your current methods of learning and practicing with insight and exercises that you won't often find in lessons or workshops. It is about cooperating with your brain so that it will build the proper connections needed to accelerate your ukulele pursuits and shorten your learning curve. We begin with an exercise for newbies to help your brain form new connections, then we pick the brains of top uke artists. There's always something to learn!
What's in a name?
"The Ukulele Brain" was inspired by several areas of research that were first brought to my attention when Daniel Ho gave me "The Little Book of Talent." It involved how your brain learns new tasks and builds the proper connections needed to master new talents. Do you remember “Wax on, wax off,” from The Karate Kid? Mr. Miyagi had young Daniel wax his car, paint his fence, and do chores in certain ways that seemed unrelated to karate. But when Daniel needed those motions for fighting, he found that they came naturally, because they were hard-wired in Daniel's brain. Even though it was just a movie, the science behind that approach is very real, and adapting it to the ukulele was what inspired me to launch this podcast.
Over the weeks and months to come, we'll explore how to cooperate with your brain so that it will build the proper connections, or "neural pathways," needed for accelerating progress in your ukulele playing journey. I'll pick the brains of top uke artists and experts in related fields for your benefit, delving into topics and extracting insight for you to add to your ukulele journey. We'll also offer tips, tricks, and mini-lessons for newer players and seasoned uke enthusiasts alike. If you'd like to learn more, please scroll down to All About The Ukulele Brain Podcast.
with Victor & Penny
The Antique Pop duo talks about the driving force behind every musical performance and how you can master rhythm on the ukulele. Plus a rhythm building, brain-training exercise. Coming soon!
with Daniel Ward & Heidi Swedberg
Explore all of the beautiful things that you can do on four strings to enhance your life and that of others. Plus another brain-training exercise. Coming soon!
with Gerald Ross
The Great American Songbook is based in jazz but contains accessible songs we all know and love. Gerald and I will discuss how to get started in this glorious, melodic style of American music. Plus another brain-training exercise. Coming soon!
with Michael Powers
Adding multiple senses and mastering a single new hand position will take your playing to new heights. Plus another brain-training exercise. Coming soon!
All About The Ukulele Brain Podcast
While developing this podcast, I came across a Facebook post in a ukulele group that went something like this: “It’s amazing how I sometimes go to bed thinking, ‘I’m never going to get better at this song/technique,’ only to wake up in the morning being able to play significantly better than the day before!”
This “overnight success” is actually indicative of how your brain works. It is constantly “wiring up” new connections, just like internet providers lay fiberoptic cables. But there are a few major differences: Fiberoptic cables are passive, light-conducting elements, coated in plastic or other insulation, that serve no purpose until data is sent through them. But the connections that your brain builds are living pathways built by the data your brain receives from your various senses.
Your brain’s neural pathways form and begin transmitting information quickly. As more data is received, these neural pathways are coated in a material called myelin. It was once thought that myelin was an inactive insulator, like the plastic on fiber optic cables. But we now know that the thicker the myelin, the faster the neural connection. What happens with “overnight success” is that your practice results in tiny improvements until sufficient myelin is formed and then, voilà! you can perform the task well.
Several tasks are required to play the ukulele and there are best-practice methods that can speed up your brain’s connectivity processes in mastering those tasks. The good news is, these methods do not require hours of practice and, given proper data, results come quickly!
The Ukulele Brain Podcast will include exercises to add to your current method of practice. By following the simple methods in these exercises, “overnight success” can become the norm for you as you travel on your ukulele journey.
You have probably heard that “repetition builds muscle memory.” In truth, muscle memory is a myth. Muscles have no capacity for memory. Repetition does build muscle strength and flexibility, but it is the brain's connections that tell the muscles what to do.
These neural pathways may also hold other benefits. There is a growing consensus among professionals that the more avenues your brain has over which to send its electrical impulses, the more it can fight problems associated with aging, such as dementia. There are cases where music seems to snap dementia patients out of their fog, which may indicate that the musical connections your brain makes may be immune to the ravages of time.
Your brain uses another material, a neurotransmitter chemical called Dopamine, to send messages along the pathways between nerve cells. This chemical also plays a role in helping us feel pleasure. This sets up a delightful, symbiotic relationship: The pleasure gained from playing music, especially when you experience improvement, feels good! And the better you feel about your playing, the more inspired you become.
I hope you enjoy The Ukulele Brain Podcast!