Musical Instruments and cubing

Musical instruments are tools that allow one to express themselves through the power of music. Learning how to play a musical instrument is an art in itself, and it often benefits multiple avenues of life. This can be both fun and engrossing, and improvement is a great way to spend your time/pastime. This is similar to cubing, in the sense that both are great ways to spend your free time, and can be very productive!

Hand-Eye Coordination

A very vital part of getting better at playing most instruments is the coordination between the hands and eyes. This is referred to as hand-eye coordination. It relies on one’s technique and eventually gets better with practice. As one practices more and more, this coordination becomes infused in one’s muscle memory, and then, it becomes easy for them to play the instrument at that level.

music and cubing

Example- Playing a Piano

Muscle Memory

Sound familiar? Yes, even in cubing, when you begin learning a new method or new algorithm(s), the progress in the initial stages is extremely slow, since your mind is still learning the moves and getting acquainted with things such as finger tricks. Eventually, you start to forget the textual part of what you’ve memorized, and your muscles get used to the patterns and order of execution of the algorithm(s). 

At this stage, one feels as though they have achieved a new level of ease, much like attaining a certain pe see that a mixture of hand-eye coordination (to ensure accurate playing/turning) and muscle memory (to reduce the time taken and increase the ease of playing/turning) applies to both playing musical instruments and getting better at cubing!

Guitar and cubing

Example - Playing a Guitar

The Correlation 

A very commonly learnt musical instrument is the guitar. As a guitarist myself, I have observed that as you get more adept at playing the instrument, things like shapes of chords and positions of various notes get infused in muscle memory over time. But that’s not all, since the speed of playing and the comfort that one develops over time helps enhance their hand-eye coordination to an extent where it can have an impact on their finger tricks while turning a cube!

This sounds insane, but it is very possible if you think about it. Finger tricks can be improved by working on hand-eye coordination to improve accuracy of turns and how you make the turns themselves. Speed can be achieved by the same process, and working on muscle memory too. Fluency comes around by itself with regular practice, much like with musical instruments. 

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Accelerate Your Cubing using music

That’s Not All

Did you think that was all? The list goes on, unsurprisingly, since there is another crucial aspect to both musical instruments and cubing, and that is recognition. The recognition of various chord progressions (sequences of chords) as well as chord shapes comes under shape recognition, and this translates very beautifully into the cubing aspect as colour/pattern recognition.

A Chord Being Played on a Guitar

For example, when you start learning algorithms to solve the last layer on a Rubik’s Cube using the CFOP method, it takes time to get used to recognizing what case you have, since there are 57 cases for OLL (orientation) and 21 cases for PLL (permutation). By working on playing different types of chords and various patterns, you teach your mind to absorb these patterns, and similarly, for cubing, it works by continuously doing the algorithms to observe how pieces are arranged before and after doing it.

speedcubing - OLL cases

The Final Aspect

So far, we have seen how factors such as hand-eye coordination, muscle memory and pattern recognition have played big roles in the improvement of both cubing and musical instruments. The final point to make is the direct implication of exercise.

It is no surprise that whether you’re playing a musical instrument or cubing, the hands do tire out eventually, and this means that this is a form of physical exercise, which is very healthy. However, that is not all, since there is so much usage of the mind that goes into both activities, as pointed out in above paragraphs, which proves that it is also mental exercise!

I think there is no better reason to pursue two things together than the benefit of enrichment of both mind and body. This combination of physical and mental exercise even shows effects in competitions, where things like nerves and other factors determine one’s overall performance.

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Conclusion

I would like to conclude by quoting Sam Snead, who famously said, “Practice puts brains in your muscles”, which simply summarizes the intertwining nature of physical and mental activities! So, what are you waiting for? Pick up a musical instrument and watch yourself begin to enjoy cubing even more!

-Akshaansh

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