Paulo Almeida

Paulo Almeida, drummer/percussionist, arranger, composer

Drummer/percussionist, composer and arranger of multiple music genres.

The Power of Habit

I just started reading this book.  I've been meaning to get to it.  I've noticed it in bookstores for years.  It's quite interesting.  As with so many things in my life, I'm comparing it to how it relates to my life as a musician and a drummer.  Now I can see a very clear link.  There is an amazing jazz pianist named Kenny Werner who has created an inspirational way of playing music called, "Effortless Mastery".  His contention is that musicians have a lot of trouble with performing at their best because many of them have a constant battle within themselves with this voice in their head that says, "You aren't good enough.  You don't belong here.  You'll never be good enough," and so on.  Through readings and guided mediations, Werner shows artists how to move away from getting stuck with listening to that voice in their head.  But a part that is really important here is that musicians need to practice and improve their skill LIKE CRAZY in order to get to a place where they can play effortlessly.  I see a strong connection to this in "The Power of Habit".  Scientists noticed a change in lab mice whom they rigged up with brain connectors to see how their brains reacted with trying a new maze where they would find chocolate at the end.  They discovered that on the first exploring of the maze, it seemed like they were just taking their time.  As they did the maze more and more, the mice would get faster at getting to the end of the maze with chocolate.  According to the data they collected from their brains, the mice had the MOST activity in their brains when they were first discovering the maze.  As the habit of making a B-line to the chocolate became stronger and ingrained, their brain activity actually decreased.  The habit made their brain activity more efficient.  Seems to me that this is what I need to shoot for with my drumming.  There are certain motions that are not super automatic for me yet (certain difficult fills that I'm building up on speed, double-bass sounding right foot technique, and keeping really good time).  But as I continue to work on those methods and improving them through regular practice, their will build neuro-passages in my brain that make them more like habits that I won't even have to think about once they are really ingrained in my muscle memory.