Ask them [musicians] how they do it, and they will talk about developing wider perceptions of structural organisation, operating with different kinds of memory simultaneously, and downgrading matters of detail - 'The memory is in the fingers', as concert pianist Iwan Llewellyn Jones put it to me once.I'm not a fantastic guitarist by any stretch of the imagination, but I recognise the sentiments expressed in the quote. Even before I learnt a lot of theory, I had an intuitive feel for chord progressions and the like.
I learnt this from examples, and once I had, I found it easier to memorise new songs.
The relevance of this? Well, what is grammar if it's not "structural organisation"?
When I started thinking about this, it was a bit of a troubling analogy. Didn't I learn music before I understood the "structural organisation"? Didn't I learn the "structural organisation" through simply practising the music? Well yes, yes I did.
So why do I feel I should be studying actively the grammar of a language? Why should language we any different from music?
I stopped and I thought about it for quite a while. But the answer was pretty obvious, and once I spotted it I wondered how it could have taken me so long....
....I started playing musical instruments with the help of sheet music. I played the same handful of tunes round and round and round and round for several weeks. I simply could not do that with language -- it would drive me round the bend. Repeat a paragraph over and over and over and over and over? I think not. But I could handle it in music, because the tune itself offered some small measure of motivation. There's an intrinsic difference there.
But wait... doesn't that simply mean that we can tolerate inefficient teaching in music. Maybe music could be better taught...?