Last night I attended a wonderful jazz concert at the Community School of Music and Arts in Mountain View. The performers were high school musicians from Gunn High School and the guest conductor was Loren Schoenberg.
The musicians were great, playing pieces from the big band area. Loren was constantly changing the program, forcing the musicians to think on their feet. Right in front of our eyes, they were learning. Jazz is already a cognitively challenging genre for musicians as they need to respond to each other, improvise, and still swing. (This blog has previously covered how jazz improvisation affects and challenges the brain.) Loren forced another level of challenge on these young men and women by playing a few tunes than once in different ways (slower, faster, different solos) and explaining to the audience what was different so we could learn as well.
The evening was a great reminder of the importance of taking yourself to new limits in order to learn… Loren was moving the musicians beyond their comfort zone and that created new learning. What have you done this week that was beyond the usual? What have you consciously done (or someone else done) to break you out of your routine?