In high school I had a friend that played the piano. She started when she was five years old and by the time we reached high school she was playing in concerts and winning competitions. My favorite thing to do was to watch her play a really fast paced song because her hands went crazy across the keys. Her left and right hands were active and never did they do the same motion. My left hand always wanted to do exactly what my right hand was doing on the piano. The study conducted by Hughes and Franz studied the reaction times of musicians and nonmusicians. The main focus was on the difference between bimanual and unimanual responses.
Results showed musicians having a faster reaction time in all categories (left, right, and both hand responses). As a guitarist, I found myself wondering how I would have done on this particular task. The next thought that came to mind was what else musicians would be able to do better than nonmusicians. At first I thought musicians must be able to perform better in almost every task involving two hands, but then I remembered my friend in a basketball game…rough. I could easily to do different things with my hands on the guitar, but on the piano it was foreign to me.
I suppose my question to researchers or even to fellow classmates is what can we draw from this study that may help us as consultants understand performers and athletes? How can someone play Mozart with her eyes closed, but then not even be able to cleanly catch a ball? Is it experience or is it innate characteristics that make one person better than another? Yes practice makes perfect; however, can that really be the answer to getting great at a task?