How Your Brain Works: One Brain, Two Sides

piano-ology-how-your-brain-works-one-brain-two-sides-featured-image-by-elisa-riva-from-pixabay Image by Elisa Riva from Pixabay

Your brain, both anatomically and functionally, consists of two distinct hemispheres: left and right…

Such distinctions between your “Left Brain” and “Right Brain” can be summarized as follows…

Your LEFT BRAIN is logical. detail-oriented. interested in facts. verbal. rational. intellectual. systematic. abstract. controlling.. Your RIGHT BRAIN is intuitive, big picture-oriented, interested in ideas, visual, emotional, inspirational, playful, concrete, receptive.
Left Brain & Right Brain Comparison

… each side possessing unique ways to understand and experience reality… and with profound implications for the challenge of studying and performing music.

In particular…

Your LEFT BRAIN likes to name, explain, define, categorize, talk, count, and calculate.
Your RIGHT BRAIN likes to experience, imagine, feel, relate, listen, and express.

Your LEFT BRAIN does one thing at a time…
Your RIGHT BRAIN does everything at once.

Your LEFT BRAIN does things sequentially… connecting A to B to C and so on.
Your RIGHT BRAIN does everything simultaneously… seeing how A, B, C relate to each other.

Your LEFT BRAIN learns by structured plans.
Your RIGHT BRAIN learns by exploring.

Your LEFT BRAIN likes to analyze wholes into parts.
Your RIGHT BRAIN likes to synthesize parts into wholes.

Your LEFT BRAIN learns and remembers words, numbers, and facts.
Your RIGHT BRAIN learns and remembers images, body movements, impressions, and relationships.

Your LEFT BRAIN is highly selective about what it pays attention to, enabling you to focus on important details.
Your RIGHT BRAIN can distribute its attention to many things at once, enabling you to grasp the essence of the big picture.

Your LEFT BRAIN thinks about the past and future and is the home of plans, regrets, fears, worries, and criticisms.
Your RIGHT BRAIN senses and experiences everything in the present moment.


And so, in many ways, your “Left Brain” is “smarter” than your “Right Brain”… to the degree that your “Left Brain” can do things that your “Right Brain” simply cannot do.

Likewise… your “Right Brain” is “smarter” than your “Left Brain”… to the degree that your “Right Brain” can do things that your “Left Brain” cannot do.

This, for example, is your Left Brain at work…

piano-ology-how-your-brain-works-hemispheres-both-left-side

and this is your Right Brain at work…

piano-ology-how-your-brain-works-hemispheres-both-right-side

and this is both sides working together…

piano-ology-how-your-brain-works-hemispheres-both-working-together

Implication for Studying and Performing Music

One reason that most students struggle with music is that they are using the wrong side of their brain for the task at hand.

More often than not, most students are at the mercy of a fundamental and fatal flaw in the way that music is taught. Unfortunately, most students (and teachers) are trapped in an educational system that places way too much emphasis on abstract LEFT BRAIN constructs that have little to do with how music actually works. Unfortunately, most music instruction is so poor that it leaves hapless, trusting students attempting to study and perform with half of their brain tied behind their backs.

While your LEFT BRAIN is often an essential gateway for understanding and remembering important musical concepts, it is impossible to understand how music works if you study and play using only the left side of your brain.

Ultimately, in order to perform with confidence and conviction, you must play in that magical RIGHT BRAIN space where logic, names, and abstract constructs cannot go.

Here, for example, is something that your logical LEFT BRAIN simply cannot do… or even understand…

piano-ology-how-your-brain-works-hemispheres-something-left-side-cannot-do

… while your artistic RIGHT BRAIN grasps it immediately and effortlessly.

Special Note: Please do not conclude that your LEFT BRAIN is useless or that your RIGHT BRAIN is better than your left.

Both sides are necessary and important… and complement each other in significant ways that enable you to construct and internalize an incredible library of musical knowledge and skills.

The takeaway is this: When you study or perform music, you want to use the side of your brain that is appropriate for the task at hand… allowing the natural capabilities of each side to do what is does best… while also allowing each side to collaborate with the other side as needed.

This will all become clear in future lessons committed to bridging the gap between “Left Brain” theory and “Right Brain” experience.

learn more… Memory Fundamentals