• Mind Your Mind 101: The Imagination vs Memory

    in Motivational Minutes

    Imagination vs Memory

    Man is a tripartite being. That is, consisting of three parts.

    He’s a spirit that has a soul, and lives in a body. Other aspects of man’s personality include his conscience, mind, and emotions.

    You’re a personality because you can think with your mind, have your conscience to guide your judgement, and your emotions to direct the way you feel.

    In today’s post, we’ll be looking at the mind – the musician’s workshop.

    Understanding and harnessing the power of the mind has not only helped martial artists but musicians. Let’s look at the mind.

    The Mind – Imagination vs Memory

    The difference between two musicians is just their thought process, which is a function of their minds. Among the several functions of the mind, I consider these two the most interesting – memory and imagination.

    Here’s a contrast between memory and imagination:

    While memory helps you go back to the past to bring up things that you have covered, imagination helps you get adventurous and spontaneous, drawing ideas that even surprise you.

    Many people think that the imagination can create never-before-seen ideas, but this isn’t the case most of the time because the imagination is ruled by the memory. Owing to that, it is difficult to visualize something (imagination) that is entirely different from what you’ve seen before (memory.)

    According to Long, Priscilla in her book My Brain On My Mind, “memory and imagination have been shown to be affected by one another” and I don’t think she’s wrong in any way.

    If you are imagining cars that will be produced in twenty years’ time, your imagination will still be a function of things you’ve seen and experienced in past cars. As a matter of fact, the car in your imagination will still have a wheel. Now this wheel in your imaginary car is influenced by the cars in your memory.

    Even if your imaginations run wild and you’re able to picture cars that are flying, you’ll pretty much be influenced by the memory of an aircraft.

    People living in Alexander Graham Bell’s generation would not imagine that the telephone of their day will eventually evolve to our present day smart phones – wireless and all encompassing. This is because the great disparity between the android and ios phones of today and the telephone they saw in their days.

    I’ve heard so many people say think out of the box” and many more say “think like there’s no box”.

    But wait a minute! Is it really possible to think out the box (or like there’s no box) when you’re just getting started with piano playing and probably trying to get the fingers moving.

    The answer is No! Music, like every other art cannot be played outside the four walls of what you know.

    I’ve been privileged to watch videos of the greatest piano performances of the 20th century featuring great players like Horowitz, Oscar Peterson, to name a few.

    These great players are able to dazzle us with their command of the piano because overtime their minds have been developed to a point that they can picture and play in a flash. Don’t be fooled into thinking that they’re just playing something out of nothing.

    It’s common among some church folks to see people to claim that they can play under the anointing if the Holy Spirit enables them.

    I can’t say there aren’t rare exceptions where people are supernaturally gifted by the holy spirit to do what others can’t do, but there’s something the bible says about the this. Permit me to share this scripture:

    But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will…remind you of everything…” (John 14:26)

    Now, if the Holy Spirit says “Son, use a polytonal arpeggios” in a worship service, what would you do if you don’t know about polytonal arpeggios?

    God did not send his Holy Spirit to us to help us play what we do not know but to bring to our remembrance, things that we already know so that we can play them.

    In other words, the Holy Spirit can only bring to your memory the things that you are already familiar with. As a child of God who has the Holy Spirit, all that’s going to be brought to your mind are all what you are familiar with.

    At every inch of your journey as a musician to learn new concepts and techniques, listen to the right music, and meet the right people that will affect your mind.

    Affecting your mind is what will shape your playing in days, weeks, months, and years to come so that when you’re using the power of your imagination, you can have what recreate.

    Mind Your Mind

    The musician’s mind is his workshop and the workings of a powerful mind that has been sharpened by knowledge cannot be undermined.

    That’s why you need to invest a lot in equipping yourself mentally with more information. It is the information you equip your mind with that will shape your memory and imagination.

    You can only be able to imagine things from what you know and you’ll see the basic idea you got from the information reproduce itself.

    But when there is no knowledge (basic idea) in your memory, when you’ve not inspired yourself with new concepts, tools, tricks, and philosophies, trying to have a creative imagination becomes difficult if not impossible.

    There is nothing that can make a pianist that knows only triads to sound like another pianist who knows several voicing techniques. It is not possible!

    No matter the depth of the triad specialist‘s imagination, he’ll still need to learn these techniques one after the other – drop two voicings, skeleton voicings, A and B voicings, and lots of other voicing techniques before he’ll attempt sounding like the other pianist.

    The moment he’s familiar with the voicing techniques, guess what happens; his imagination can now help him flip things around.

    Final Words

    So you see…our problem most of them time is that we want to do it backwards – flip voicings and chords around without learning the techniques.

    Do you know that if you learn one new idea everyday, that’s 365 things in one year?

    Most people will rather want to learn 365 things in one day and then spend the rest of the year doing nothing. You can learn 365 new concepts in a year. All you need to do is to follow our blog and facebook page daily, learning consistently one idea everyday.

    At first, it may seem like you’re slow but always remember that even though you’re slow, if you are steady, you’ll win the race.

    If you do the math, you’re learning seven new concepts in one week, thirty [or thirty-one] new concepts every month which will eventually translate to 365 [or 366] concepts as the case may be.

    I’m a believer that tiny drops of water can make a big ocean.

    You’ll eventually have a mind that is as vast as an ocean if you consistently add drops of relevant information to your mind daily.

    That’s all for today.

    Mind your mind.

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    Onyemachi "Onye" Chuku (aka - "Dr. Pokey") is a Nigerian musicologist, pianist, and author. Inspired by his role model (Jermaine Griggs) who has become his mentor, what he started off as teaching musicians in his Aba-Nigeria neighborhood in April 2005 eventually morphed into an international career that has helped hundreds of thousands of musicians all around the world. Onye lives in Dubai and is currently the Head of Education at HearandPlay Music Group and the music consultant of the Gospel Music Training Center, all in California, USA.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.


    { 1 comment… read it below or add one }

    1 David Brakes

    Thank you sir!


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