I am a self-taught musician.
And "HEURISTICS" are what enabled me to learn music - before I even knew what they were!
They are actually the "natural" way we ALL think.
Here's is some background on this:
When non-musicians hear me play, they often remark on how "impossible" it was for them to learn music from a teacher - much less work out for oneself how to play and then get up to a decent skill level.
Please understand that I'm not putting myself up on the level of, say, a Mozart.
But I really never saw the lack of a music teacher as a difficulty. Sure, things would show up that I "couldn't work out". So I would watch and listen to other musicians and ask them to show me how they did this or that.
But, ultimately I have relied on my own ears, fingers and mind to advance my own musicianship.
So... I was thinking about music, and how I learned it. Here are my observations:
[Besides observe other musicians], one of the things I did and still do, is break down the particular thing I wanted to master into the smallest "chunks" possible, and then "burn those in" [practice repeatedly] separately, then put the "chunks" together into a comprehensive skill.
Another thing I did was to recognize where a particular skill on a totally DIFFERENT instrument could be applicable to MY instruments - keys and guitar, and "adapt" it - turn it into an excercise and then use THAT to create a NEW skill, on a DIFFERENT instrument!
Here's what I mean:
I am a guitarist, keyboardist and singer primarily - I have ZERO real experience with DRUMS or PERCUSSION.. But, one night, when I was away at college, I was hanging out with this drummer. He was doing exercises on his practice pad..
He showed me what they were all about: They imparted an ability to play any particular rhythm pattern in the right hand, while playing a DIFFERENT but related one in the left hand - [or the left and right legs.]
These are patterns are known as "POLYRHYTHMS". And the ability to play them is termed "COORDINATED INDEPENDENCE". [He was doing exercises from THIS book: ADVANCED TECHNIQUES FOR THE MODERN DRUMMER - COORDINATED INDEPENDENCE] (note: I'm not getting any commission on this referral.)
"Hey. You try it." He offered.
So we started slowly, as I copied his actions - then we began to accelerate [which drummers are prone to do anyway :) ]
Lo and behold - I WAS PLAYING POLYRHYTHMICALLY!!! My LEFT hand was laying down a "regular" beat/pulse, while my RIGHT hand was 'improvising' freely against that beat.
[When you hear a jazz drummer keeping that high hat going with a regular pattern as he solos with changing patterns and rhythm in his other hand and his kick drum foot - THAT'S "coordinated independence".]
So, at least in a rudimentary way - I achieved "COORDINATED INDEPENDENCE".
But then came the "AHA"! If these exercises work for for TWO HANDS, can they work the same way between the THUMB and TWO FINGERS?? - The answer was "of course".
And so I worked out a set of exercises for myself which impart the skill of the technique known as "Travis Picking", or "Three-Finger-Picking. [here is an example:]
What I did was: I 'deconstructed' three-finger-picking in the same way a drummer deconstructs polyrhythms!
here's something amazing -- Within a day, I was executing complex
3-finger-picking patterns as well as some I'd seen who had to practice
for a LONG time - months, even years!..
No, I do NOT assert that I am a "Mozart".. But, as I said above, these are certain ways of thinking which we ALL naturally use;
These "strategies" it possible for "impossible" problems to be solved relatively easily.
They are known as "HEURISTICS". And heuristics CAN and DO apply to LEARNING MUSIC.
[More on 'MUSICAL HEURISTICS' -- It will really give you TONS of new musical ideas! -- and can put you ahead substantially.]
And the accolades continue: David Grisman [above] uses "The Original" Cowling System:
DOWNLOAD "THE ORIGINAL COWLING SYSTEM©" -- PDF "E-BOOK" - 70 pages [$22.50 via PAYPAL secure]
THE SOFTCOVER PHYSICAL BOOK IS BACK IN PRINT! - Available at Amazon.
And still more [actual and unsolicited] rave reviews for "The Original" Cowling System:
FROM A VIOLINIST:
"The Cowling System © is a set of 12 exercises designed to increase the flexibility and strength of the hand, wrist, and fingers.
"I bought the course in 1978 and have found them to be invaluable.
"I've kept them all these years and still use them to warm up with before playing."
~ Richard Barton posted on VIOLINIST.COM
FROM A BASS PLAYER:
?"My fingers actually DO what my brain tells them to do, WITHOUT getting confused."
~ Anthony Jerome Smith, 35-year veteran bass player.
FROM A PIANIST:
"In 1976, my teacher gave me his copy of all the exercises, whereupon I made xeroxed pages to put in a binder.
"My teacher was amazed at my progress that in a year I could play, for example, the prelude #17 of Chopin!
~ "RPN58" (from a pianists' discussion board in England, 2006)
FROM A GUITARIST:
"I was introduced to the Cowling System © in the 1980's by a violinist in his seventies, who had amazing dexterity on his instrument for HIS age.
"Through the use of the COWLING SYSTEM ©, I went from "amateur" to an "A" level in music in a very short number of years.
"I have been using the exercises continuously since my friend gave them to me and believe me - THEY WORK."
~ Don Wills Guitarist, Great Britain
FROM A VIOLINIST:
"I must say I am highly delighted with the way my fingering has improved since I commenced your hand strengthening exercises.
"Recently, I became very depressed about my playing and almost decided to give it up, but now I feel it's a pleasure, thanks to the Cowling System. ©"
~ "THE VIOLINIST" Magazine, December, 1924
I'd love to see YOUR testimonial on this list! If you really do "THE ORIGINAL" COWLING SYSTEM © of Hand Strengthening Exercises", you CAN master and truly enjoy your music!