Easy Come, Easy Go: The Surprising Paradox of Task-Switching

What do pit orchestra and my dissertation have in common? Well, aside from the fact that I maybe read some relevant articles during the occasional rehearsal and/or show (or, more often the case, discovered that articles weren’t as relevant as I thought they might be), almost nothing…aside from one thing: task-switching. As a reed player, I have doubled for most of the shows I’ve done, meaning I play multiple instruments, usually in the clarinet and/or saxophone families, though I have done some flute (not my forte—not my piano either, for that matter). Though still playing music, when switching between instruments, I’m essentially switching between tasks (at least as psychologists would define task-switching), because I’m alternatingly applying different sets of rules (i.e., fingerings). When doing this, rules will inevitably be misapplied (i.e., I play the wrong fingering). Or at least it’s thus far been consistent for me. 😉 Continue reading