Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week
August 30, 2010
Issue #381

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

This is a short issue this week.  The topic of the article relates to the classes that I will be teaching next week at the South East Clown Association Convention.  It is also related to my Creativity For Entertainers trilogy.  You will find
similar information in those books.
I would like to remind those who will be attending the SECA convention that I consider my dealer table to be an extension of the class room.  For example, if you take my juggling class I hope you will find time during the remainder of the convention to practice juggling.  If you will stop by my dealer table and show me what you are doing, I'll give you some constructive feedback.  I'll make sure you know what you are doing correctly and why you should continue with that.  Also, I will have my packet card tricks available at my table.  If you purchase any of them, I will work with you at my table to make sure you have mastered the trick before you leave the convention.  If you don't purchase anything, please stop by for a chat.
Have a great week,
In This Issue
Thought For The Week
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

August 30, 2010

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

"Down time lets the brain go over experiences it's had, solidify them and turn them into permanent long-term memories." - Loren Frank, Assistant Professor, University of California - San Francisco Department of Physiology


Short frequent practice sessions are more effective than long occasional ones.  Like many juggling instructors, I recommend that novice jugglers practice for ten minutes a day. A short practice limits the amount of frustration that you experience.  It also allows your mind to process what you have just done and make sense of what is happening.  I recommend that you end a practice session with a success.  If you are planning to practice for ten minutes, but after five minutes you do better than you have ever done before, stop practicing.  The last thing that you do is what you remember the best.  You want to remember the successful way of doing it rather than a failed attempt.  With a new juggling trick I will count the number of successful catches and try to surpass that number.  When I succeed, I end that practice session.


When I was a student at Randy Pryor's Wait, Wait, Wait School of Juggling, our class sessions were two-hours long.  However we didn't juggle the entire time.  We would warm up and then show Randy what we had been practicing.  Then he gave us something new to work on.  We would work on that for a while, and then we would take a break to socialize with other students.  We would return to work, and then after a while Randy would stop everyone for a class discussion.  Sometimes we discussed elements of showmanship, but often it turned into more social time.  We returned to what we had been working on.  Then we would do some group exercises just before the end of class.  Those breaks weren't a waste of time.  They gave our mind time off to assimilate what we had been trying to do.  Often after a pause we experienced a break through in being able to complete a new trick.  During the break our subconscious had a chance to process the experience and make important connections.


I read a study that says your memory of a subject is stronger after a ten-minute break than it is immediately at the end of the lesson.  (I don't know how they were able to measure that.)  That is true only if you take a break.  If you go on to another mental task that process is interrupted and doesn't take place.


During my recent trip to Singapore, I studied the history of clowning in Asia by visiting three museums and doing some additional research in the AsianCivilizationMuseum archives.  Some of what I found was information that I had heard before, but this time it began to make sense and I understood how things connected together.  I think part of what made it so effective is that after visiting each museum I walked back to the hotel.  When I was working in the ACM archives I studied for two hours, and then the library closed for an hour long lunch break during which I walked around.  I returned and studied for two more hours before walking back to the hotel.  I believe that during those walks my subconscious had a chance to process the new information and fit it together with recent information and my memories. 


A recent article in the New York Times stated that a problem with portable electronic devices like the Blackberry is they make it possible for people to fill all their available time.  This prevents them from having down time to solidify new information in their memories.


Having mental down time is also important for generating new ideas because much of creativity is making new connections between existing ideas.  If you are constantly absorbing new information you don't have time to process it and fit it with existing information.  I realize some of my best ideas after doing a chore outdoors.  Some studies suggest that a break in a natural setting is the most effective.


How can you allow yourself mental down time during and after a lesson?  How can you provide mental down time to allow your mind to connect existing ideas into new combinations?




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I hope to see you down the road.

Bruce Johnson
Charlie's Creative Comedy
Copyright 2010 by Bruce "Charlie" Johnson.
All rights reserved. 

Educational Opportunities
September 8-12, 2010
South East Clown Association Convention
Jacksonville, Florida
 Introduction to Juggling, Creativity Techniques, Trick Cartoons, Banquet Show, and Dealer Table
I believe in promoting any event I will be lecturing at.  If you schedule me for an educational event that you are hosting, I will list it here.  My goal is to do what I can to best meet the needs of you and your group.
For information on additional services that I can provide for an educational event 

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