©Arlene R. Taylor, PhD

The following observations reflect input from conversations with a variety of musicians, including composer/performer David H. Hegarty, MS and PhD studies.

Prioritizing Division

Left Frontal Lobebrain lead

  • Set goals for studying or listening to music
  • Break goals down into manageable steps
  • Prioritize activities needed to achieve goals
  • Do first things first
  • Utilize willpower to achieve musical goals
  • Abstract meaning from music
  • Analyze music for theory, compositional components, purpose, message, and functionality
  • Assign labels for music and musical signs
  • Direct the basal left to store and recall signs
  • Tend to prefer powerful, majestic, structured, or mathematical music (e.g., Bach)
  • Want to be in charge of lessons, music selections, and performance
  • Performs music with control

Envisioning Division

Right Frontal Lobebrain lead

  • Interested in the big picture musically
  • Envision change (e.g., free harmonizations)
  • Create something new (e.g., composition)
  • Enjoy variety (e.g., improvisational jazz)
  • Innovate to avoid routine and boredom
  • Risk breaking the rules (e.g., dissonance)
  • Contribute spontaneity and surprise
  • Tend toward unusual and/or dramatic performance
  • May perform better than expected based on previous practice sessions
  • May skip sequential details in exchange for concentrating on the overall performance
  • Dislike routine practice, following precise, directions, and can become quickly bored
  • May become totally absorbed and lose all track of time when practicing, if interested
  • Tend to enjoy new, innovative, unusual music (e.g., jazz, baroque, dissonance)
  • Performs with abandon (can get carried away)
  • May move and swing body with music


Maintaining Division

Left Posterior Lobesbrain lead

  • Learns the building blocks of music (e.g., chord structure, time/key signatures, notes, rests, ornamentation, scales, arpeggios)
  • Recalls musical labels
  • Hears and reads words and translates them into something that has meaning
  • Follows the rules of music (e.g., writing, transposing, composing, harmonizing)
  • Memorizes music precisely and can easily play from memory
  • Pays attention to details (e.g., counting, key signatures, accidentals, mm guidelines)
  • Sight reads (e.g., recognize and interpret signs that represent sounds)
  • Conforms to lesson and practice schedules
  • Tends to need written music in order to play
  • Likes familiar music (e.g., traditional, martial)
  • Performs music with restraint and attention to detail/directions


Harmonizing Division

Right Posterior Lobesbrain lead

  • Likes to talk about the music with others
  • Wants to please (e.g., teacher, audience) and is very sensitive to actual/perceived criticism
  • Tends to get discouraged when the music doesn’t sound right or when makes mistakes
  • Reads the body language of others (e.g., teacher, other musicians, audience)
  • Is sensitive to emotions contained in the music
  • Understands symbols in relation to musical expression (e.g., patriotic songs, love songs)
  • Plays musical instruments by ear
  • Tends to prefer music that:
    • Tells a story (e.g., country, folk, blues)
    • Is rhythmical (e.g., waltzes, toe-tapping)
    • Has a melody line and harmonious sounds
  • Plays with rhythm (e.g., syncopation)
  • May move body to the music (e.g., dance) or tap toes in time with the rhythm
  • Performs music with emotion and feeling