Muscle Memory: Good or Bad?
This may seem like a silly question for now, but hear me out.
I was talking with one of my piano students about muscle memory, and she told me how when she would forget the password to her phone, she would just throw her thumb around on the keypad and her thumb would remember it for her. This is when the idea was planted into my head that muscle memory may not be 100% positive.
Lately I’ve been more consistent with learning Tai Chi movements, and it baffled me that it takes so long to learn just one, even after doing it, watching it, and listening to someone explain it over and over and over again. I think it’s because the "muscle memory factor" has been taken out. This is when clear questions came to me.
Is muscle memory a cheat? Does it make us lazy, does it cause us to not be motivated to learn things deeply and thoroughly?
Apparently, our fingers, hands, all limbs can remember a motion, even after our mind has began to forget the details. I remember sitting down in front of pianos and letting my muscle memory remember a piece for me instead of checking a manuscript.
How much better musicians would we be if we took the time to learn things thoroughly and 3-dimensionally instead of shallowly and 1-dimensionally? I mean really, the idea of slowing down and taking our time has to be one of the most universally applicable lessons that music teaches us. With this, we don’t have to depend on muscle memory, because the methods, techniques, and patterns will be learned inside-out, mentally and physically.
What are your thoughts on this?