Motor Skills, Motivation, and Musical Practice
Operant Conditioning as Motivational Strategy. On Training Musicians, Athletes, and Scientists – and How We Taught Our Dogs to Sit (Rachel Rudich & Marianne de Laet)
Operant Conditioning as Motivational Strategy. On Train- ing Musicians, Athletes, and Scientists – and How We Taught Our Dogs to Sit “Le solfège (et plus généralement le travail de l’enseignement musi- cal) n’est pas un moyen de la musique, mais le médiateur qui la fait apparaître ... Comment la musique vient-elle aux enfants?” (Antoine Hennion, 1988, p. 3).1 Musicians and athletes; Scientists and dogs How does music come to musicians? How does math come to math- ematicians; running to athletes; obedience to dogs?2 Obviously, some sort of practice is involved. But those who teach children, young adults, professionals, and dogs – and that includes most of us, in one form or another – will agree that it is not evident what practice entails, what it accomplishes, and how we motivate ourselves and others to engage in it. Paraphrasing Antoine Hennion, the author of our epigraph, we sug- gest that to understand practice as a straight and narrow path towards proficiency in a discipline – a subject area, entailing knowledge, methods of acquiring it, practitioners, and rules that guide these practitioners – would be to overlook its powers as a creative and productive force. We argue that practice is, rather, an agent (médiateur, mediator, in Hennion’s terms) that makes discipline, the disciplined body, the disciplinary body, and the discipline, appear. The presumption of this chapter is that there is a lot to be learned from dogs. And so, in order to better understand how music, math, and mara- thons...
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