Bodies and pianos

Anybody can move their body around and create a sort of dance. And anybody can sit down at a piano keyboard and start banging out a crude sort of music.

But there are also people we recognize as expert dancers, and people we recognize as expert pianists. I am intrigued by the parallels.

Is it possible that the path from “look, I am moving my body around” to serious dance has formal parallels to the path from unschooled noodling on a keyboard to concert level musicianship? Despite the fact that these two media are vastly different, is it possible that their respective learning curves possess a similar structure?

What are the intermediate steps along the way from naive performance to superb mastery? Do all students travel a similar path? Is there always some recognizable half-way point along any such journey?

By comparing very different performance media, and seeing how people progress from beginner to expert in each one, we may gain insights into the process of learning itself — insights that may generalize to future forms of expression yet to discovered.

3 thoughts on “Bodies and pianos”

  1. Physical limitations come into play. You find magnificent pianists well into their golden years. Ballet dancers, not so much.

    [Women’s gymnastics is the probably the toughest. You’d better win that medal by age 18]

  2. With Virtual Reality we will be able to create a prosthetic for great older dancers. It will no longer matter how your body literally moves, but rather the control and set of aesthetic choices that your mind can exert over the body you currently have.

    This will level the playing field. There are magnificent pianists are at all ages, and in the future the same will be true of dancers. And the world will be richer for it.

  3. Thinking of Gödel Escher Bach I wonder, why not compare, say, math and playing the piano? I’d think they have a bunch in common as well.

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