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    LEARNING AND PRACTICING SKILLED PERFORMANCE

    Francis Mechner

    The Mechner Foundation

    200 Central Park South, Apt 18E

    New York, NY 10019

    (212) 765-1270

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    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................. 1

    Skilled Performance ................................................................................... 1

    Categories of Skilled Performance ............................................................. 2

    Presentation .................................................................................................. 2

    SOME PHYSIOLOGICAL BACKGROUND .................................................. 3

    Motor Programs ........................................................................................... 3

    Some of the Experimental Evidence for Motor Programs ......................... 4

    The Role of Feedback ................................................................................. 5

    CNS Activity Prior to Movement Initiation .............................................. 6

    PROGRAMS, ROUTINES, AND PERFORMANCE LEARNING .............. 8

    Motor Programs and Motor Routines ......................................................... 8

    The Use of Pauses in Creating New Programs .......................................... 8

    Assembly of Concurrent Routines .............................................................. 9

    PARAMETERS OF MOTOR PROGRAMS .................................................... 9

    The Force Parameter ................................................................................... 9

    The Force Parameter and Covert Routines ............................................... 10Motor Programs Can Run Without Muscle Engagement ........................ 11

    Overt and Covert Routines ........................................................................ 13

    Covert Routines in Overt Performance .................................................... 14

    The Importance of Identifying and Teaching Covert Routines ............... 15

    The Speed Parameter ................................................................................. 16

    Speed Changes and Phasing of Routines .................................................. 17

    Practicing With Gradual Speed Changes ................................................. 18

    Effort Flow as a Motor Program Parameter ............................................. 19

    Moment-To-Moment Parameter Changes ................................................ 20

    PERFORMANCE SHAPING ............................................................................ 20

    Automatization of Routines ...................................................................... 20

    Reinforcement of Parameter Shifts in Performance Learning ................. 21

    Imaging In Performance ............................................................................ 22

    Matching Internally Encoded Models ...................................................... 23

    Creating the Internally Encoded Performance Models ............................ 24

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    BASIC TECHNIQUES OF PERFORMANCE SHAPING........................... 24

    Creating Internally Encoded Models ........................................................ 24

    The Importance of Critical Covert Components ...................................... 25

    Changing the Internal Model .................................................................... 26

    The Use of Metaphors in Coaching .......................................................... 27

    Concept Formation .................................................................................... 28

    Programs That Manage Other Programs .................................................. 29

    Covert Practice Can Be Effective ............................................................. 30

    PERFORMANCE ECONOMY AND EFFICIENCY.................................... 31

    Coordinative Linkages ............................................................................. 31

    Coordinative Structures for Movement .................................................... 32

    Degrees of Freedom .................................................................................. 33Degrees of Freedom in Performance Learning ........................................ 33

    Increasing Control Without Increasing the DFs ....................................... 34

    Coordinative Structures in Perception ...................................................... 35

    Coordinative Structures of Covert Programs ........................................... 35

    Economy and Efficiency of Performance ................................................. 36

    Conceptual Frameworks are Coordinative Structures ............................. 36

    Practicing Sequences of Positions ............................................................ 37

    PERFORMANCE MISTAKES: INVALID COORDINATIONS................ 38

    Valid and Invalid Routines........................................................................ 38The Importance of Avoiding Mistakes ..................................................... 39

    Performance Mistakes in Covert Routines ............................................... 40

    Can One Learn From Mistakes? ............................................................... 41

    Plateaus in Performance Learning ............................................................ 42

    Avoiding Plateaus ...................................................................................... 42

    Superstitious Routines ............................................................................... 43

    Managing Superstitious Performance Routines ....................................... 44

    Ways to Practice Mistakes Inadvertently ................................................. 45

    Successive Approximations ...................................................................... 45

    Using Pauses To Create Successive Approximations .............................. 46

    Selecting Proper Pausing Points ............................................................... 47

    MAKING THE PERFORMANCE ULTRA-STABLE.................................. 48

    Cues in Skilled Performance ..................................................................... 48

    Visual and Auditory Cues ......................................................................... 49

    Kinesthetic Cues ........................................................................................ 50

    Making Cue Sources Redundant .............................................................. 51

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    Making Coordinative Structures Redundant ............................................ 51

    "Getting Stuck" in the Middle of a Passage ............................................. 52

    How To Avoid "Getting Stuck" ................................................................ 53

    Benefits of Redundancy ............................................................................ 54

    MISTAKES DUE TO CUE GENERALIZATION......................................... 55

    Cue Generalization Problems ................................................................... 55

    Managing Cue Generalization Problems .................................................. 55

    Practicing "Getting Stuck" ........................................................................ 57

    PERFORMANCE MONITORING IN PRACTICING................................. 57

    Philogenetic Origins of Short-Term Memory .......................................... 57

    Short-Term Memory and "Following" ..................................................... 58Monitoring in Following ........................................................................... 59

    Following in Performance Learning ......................................................... 60

    Following in Sight Reading ..................................................................... 61

    Subsequent Passes Through the Score...................................................... 62

    Looking at the Score in Practicing ............................................................ 63

    The Efficient Way ..................................................................................... 64

    MANAGING THE PRACTICING PROCESS............................................... 65

    Length of Practice Sessions ...................................................................... 65

    The Need for Performance Refreshment .................................................. 66Scheduling Practice Sessions .................................................................... 67

    Awareness in Performance Learning ........................................................ 68

    Advantages of Total Immersion................................................................ 69

    Competing Drives ...................................................................................... 70

    The Teacher's Functions ............................................................................ 71

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    INTRODUCTION

    Skilled Performance

    "Skilled Performance," as the term is used here, includes musical performance

    skills, all types of athletic skills, martial arts, dance, foreign language skills,

    playin