Wednesday, October 29, 2014

More on Dimensions of Time

A chat this morning with an elementary school teacher revealed something quite unexpected: apparently children who regularly attend services in a church, mosque, or synagogue pay better attention in the classroom than those who do not -- and we are talking about a South Bronx public school classroom.

This reveals something about the nature of attention:  I think it thrives on variation.  If a stimulus bombards the brain always at the same unrelenting rate of speed it merely succeeds in turning the brain off.  I would not be in the least surprised but that it was this aspect of the media that most got to me when as a child I simply couldn't stand television.  Not that I was an ideal kid who moved easily from one rate of stimulation to another: I craved speed.  Never fast enough, seemed to be my mantra.

Now I recognize the danger inherent in that kind of superficial emphasis on rapidity.  Slow down.  I work on slowing kids down, using a metronome to tease them into being aware of how fast or slowly they actually can move without losing concentration.

It's a critical skill, not just in music.