When does grey matter matter?

Music memory. Continuing a theme from yesterday’s post, it was with great pleasure that I saw the next listing on my iPhone – Bruch, and his violin concerto no 1 in G minor.

I know this work so well that I could probably play it in my head from memory. I learned the solo part when I was still playing the violin, though never performed it as a soloist, I should say. I did, however, play the accompaniment as a member of an orchestra.

With some piano pieces, I used to play them so often that when I come to them now, after all these years, my fingers still remember how to play them, even if my head can’t keep up. If I don’t think about what I am doing, my fingers do all the work like magic. But the moment I engage my brain, I can’t remember what I am supposed to play. It’s really strange.

Despite this level of familiarity with some music, I find it nearly impossible to have music playing in the background while I work on something else which requires the engagement of brain activity – reading, knitting, writing etc. Background music at a dinner party or some such thing is a different matter. But if concentration on a task is needed, forget it. I tune into whatever is playing – it takes priority for me.

So multi-tasking is clearly a no-no. And indeed, in some cases, it seems as if switching off the little grey cells is a positive advantage as well. Hmmm….

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