We’re More of Ourselves When We’re in Tune with Others

Music reminds us why going solo goes against our better nature. “The more tightly the social parts of our brain are connected, the more possible it is that performance will be more moving, more expressive,” Slayton says. “Brains are social, people are social, and when they’re connected, that has the best effect for creativity.” 

When you’re in sync with somebody, are you activating parts of your brain that are dormant when you’re alone? “Yes, the evidence suggests that’s the case,” Viskontas says. “Here’s an analogy. If you forget somebody’s name, the more you think about it, the harder it is to access. The name isn’t dormant. Access to it is blocked because your conscious cognitive resources are going in a different direction. When you start thinking about something else, or leave a room, it pops into your mind. The same can be true for being alone. When you’re alone and intensely focused on something, you’ve got an inner critic going, you’re monitoring yourself. When you have to respond to somebody else, and allow yourself to hear other thoughts, you forget the inner critic. You hear other parts of your brain talking more loudly, more clearly. If you’re a solo performer, it’s really hard to get completely immersed in what you’re doing. When you have to respond to somebody else, it’s easier to forget your inner critic.”

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