Sensory deprivation may aid musicians’ technical development

Posted on: May 20, 2011

In Monday’s (5/16) Miller-McCune, Tom Jacobs writes, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Everybody knows the standard answer. But newly published research suggests that, after you’ve labored all day in the practice room, you might want to spend an hour in a flotation tank. Oshin Vartanian of the University of Toronto and Peter Suedfeld of the University of British Columbia report floating in an Epsom salt solution one hour per week for four weeks boosted the technical ability of a group of college music students. This suggests such periods of minimal sensory stimulation can improve performers’ perceptual-motor coordination. … Eight of the students—six men and two women—engaged in flotation sessions for four consecutive weeks. They spent an hour each week in a fiberglass shell, floating in a solution of Epsom salts and skin-temperature water. They were in the dark, and outside sounds were muffled. … The researchers found ‘a significant difference between the treatment and comparison groups on technical ability, but not on any other dimension,’ the researchers write. Thanks to this enhanced skill level, those who had floated ‘had significantly higher grades in the jazz improvisation class than the comparison group.’ ”

Posted May 20, 2011