Musicians can benefit from them, too. The understanding of neuromuscular pathways strongly informs my approach to teaching private voice lessons. New students coming into my studio often are confused as to why we don’t:
- Learn a lot of new songs often
- Learn a lot of songs they want to sing
- Work on much more than a phrase at a time per lessonI explain to them how neuromuscular pathways work and how, at their age, it is imperative to develop proper habits for singing, since their instrument IS their body. It is especially important to focus on the repetitive element of building these pathways since singers often have bad habits that have been reinforced for their entire singing life!This concept also applies to my ensembles, whom I often ask while sight-reading, “When does tone (or vowel shape/blend/dynamic contrast/etc.) matter?” and they answer “Always!”
I highly recommend introducing the concept of neuromuscular pathways in your lessons or rehearsals. To further the impression for my students, I make an analogy of the pathways being like roads. When you practice something the first few times, you carve a dirt path. A few more times, it becomes a gravel drive. Months of repetition and consistency later, you’ll have a paved road. Eventually, you build superhighways with 10 lanes on each side.So no, practice does not make perfect. Practice makes whatever you do within that time more engrained. If you consistently play piano with straight fingers, you’ll find it difficult to curve them appropriately in your lessons. If you ignore intonation while practicing scales, you’ll always play scalar passages out of tune.