It seems that once again, there’s evidence to show that the rational, thinking parts of the brain can get in the way of more creative pursuits. Lisa Margulis from the University of Arkansas (Psychology of Music, March 2010) carried out a study to compare the level of enjoyment experienced by listeners given notes about the pieces to be played prior to a concert, with listeners who heard the music without the benefit of any explanatory information. Different groups were given different descriptions of the Beethoven string quartets: dramatic, structural or no description at all. The participants had no formal training in music.
Seems that those who heard the music without any programme notes enjoyed it much more than those ‘in the know’. (Enjoyment was measured via a self rating response on a 7-point Likert scale.)
Maybe hearing first, reading later could be a useful strategy. Trusting our senses, rather than our intellect, might pay off.