"Preloading" Muscle Memory
This morning, while my mind was clear of yesterday's debris, I practice the C Major scale. I didn’t even think about it. I just let my fingers ascend the keys using muscle memory and crossed the 90 bpm threshold easily. Muscle memory seems to work best when the mind is not interfering, and when the fingers are "preloaded" with a recent and correct sequence.
I may be on to something, so let me unpack both parts of this last sentence.
To keep the mind from interfering, one either must be clear-headed (as in first thing in the morning) or mindful / fully present in the moment (an ability developed through regular meditation). An interesting study on Chinese Zen meditation and musical performance shows mindfulness cultivated by the ancient spiritual practice of Silent Illumination improves performance quality.
For the second part of my statement, I’m testing a theory here, so bear with me. For every practice session, I conclude by playing the sequence of keys perfectly, about three of four times. I’m "preloading" the cache of my muscle memory with the correct sequence. How long does this localized muscle memory last before going corrupt? I’m not sure. During sleep, the brain consolidates and organizes the previous day’s information, so that might be at least part of the reason I aced scales this morning. But does it work during the day while conscious? Can I "preload" the muscle memory of my fingers before work and be able to play that exact sequence after work, provided my mind doesn’t interfere?
In other words, does "preloading" (as I use the term) even exist? The hypothesis deserves experimentation.
The thing is, the longer I practice, the more frequently I make mistakes due to fatigue and low-grade anxiety, and the harder it is to conclude with 3-4 perfect sequences. There is a law of diminishing returns in effect, so knowing when to quit is important.
Speaking of quitting, it's late and I'm exhausted. Hope what I wrote makes a modicum of sense.
Time bookstanding today: 40 minutes Quality of meditation (out of 10): 5