Musithinks are musical brainteasers. The mental arithmetic of music.
How do you think in music? I believe that quite a lot of people who would like to be better music readers struggle because they haven't got a way of thinking music. I don't mean thinking about it, but thinking it. Imagine trying to help a child learn to read or do sums before they have the concept of words and numbers. Musithinks are designed to help you develop a concept of musical patterns.
As you go through your day you're thinking about lots of things, not always related to what you are doing at the time. Musithinks are ideal for those moments when your brain is looking for something to keep it interested. Get rid of earworms with strategic musithinking. Entertain bored children!
Earworms are a useful reference point. I think all of us sometimes get a bit of a tune that we can't get out of our head. Round and round it goes. Maddening. We're not singing it, and no one else can hear it – but we've got a more or less clear audio track going on in our brain. That's audiation.
The term audiation was created by an American academic and researcher into music learning called Edwin Gordon. Here is a definition from the The Gordon Institute for Music Learning. It is quite long, but is accessible and worth having a think about.
“Audiation is the foundation of musicianship. It takes place when we hear and comprehend music for which the sound is no longer or may never have been present. One may audiate when listening to music, performing from notation, playing “by ear,” improvising, composing, or notating music.
“Audiation is not the same as aural perception, which occurs simultaneously with the reception of sound through the ears. It is a cognitive process by which the brain gives meaning to musical sounds. Audiation is the musical equivalent of thinking in language. When we listen to someone speak we must retain in memory their vocal sounds long enough to recognize and give meaning to the words the sounds represent. Likewise, when listening to music we are at any given moment organizing in audiation sounds that were recently heard. We also predict, based on our familiarity with the tonal and rhythmic conventions of the music being heard, what will come next. Audiation, then, is a multistage process.”
When you think a word – do you “see it” in your mind's eye. How? Is it typed or hand written? When I have to do a mental calculation I sometimes “see” written numbers, and sometimes blobs, blocks or shapes. I assume this is to do with the visual material we were given when we were learning. What about in music? Music readers can “see” notation in their heads enabling them to recall and manipulate musical material. How do the many skilled, creative musicians who don't use notation do the same processes? I try asking, but it's often very difficult for people to put it into words. I think that many feel what their fingers do to make the notes – a kinaesthetic process. That way of thinking fits with reading tablature or having a finger memory of where chords are on a keyboard.
These materials are geared towards music notation mainly because that is what many people involved with Felton Music say they would like to cope with better.
So – let's audiate. Rather than waiting for an earworm to visit, consciously think a tune in your head. Something not too long and complicated to start with. Imagine singing or humming it. You may find that you can feel tiny movements in your throat as if you really were singing. That's just like feeling the shape your hand moves to write when you imagine signing something.
Musithinks are quick challenges. They are all based on well known tunes. The ones we usually can't remember learning.
To help you develop your thinking capability, some of the activities suggest using pen and paper, objects or fingers, but you can do lots of them just in your head.
Musithinks To Download
Musicthinks that are part of Learning Collection 1: Getting Started with Frère Jacques and Friends
(click on the links to download a PDF to your computer)