"A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instil a love of learning”
- Brad Henry
How to Learn Faster
The prospect of learning a new instrument is exciting. You get to know how to play your favourite songs! You’re able to show off to your family and friends. You might become a rockstar!
However, there's always a voice in the back of our heads that tells us that picking up a new skill is also overwhelming. Sometimes with all the exciting prospects of being able to do what we dream, we forget how much hard work needs to go into cultivating these skills. And just like that, your bubble bursts. Your motivation and enthusiasm start to wane, you feel doomed! You feel you might get left behind and won't ever reach your goal. Now, you're spending your time in a pit of worry and procrastinate your practice, or even quit.
So how do we avoid this pitfall? The key is not to put an unrealistic timeline on expectations on yourself and set yourself up to fail. You need to remind yourself that Rome wasn't built in a day. It was built brick by brick, over a period of time.
Let’s explore some proven and highly effective ideas to keep things fast paced and fun that will work for you repeatedly.
Try not to think about putting all the parts together straight away. Skills are easier to learn when you pick them apart at first. You can do this by setting small attainable goals, like mastering a few easy chords or how to strum and pick correctly and then piece the small parts together! Over time, these smaller skills will eventually paint a bigger picture. You need to crawl before you run, right?
If you have taken guitar lessons with me, you’ll probably hear me talk about mindfulness. This concept means giving your full attention to one individual task at a time, being aware that your mind may wander elsewhere, but gently bringing it back to the task in hand. By being fully aware of each of the movements involved in playing the guitar, this is ‘real mindfulness practice’ and will get you playing in no time at all. It’s not what you practise that matters the most, ‘but how you practise’.
Break It Into Chunks
Trying to learn too much too soon can produce partly learned skills and you'll always be playing "catch-up." Try to stay away from learning the whole song at first. Find the ingredients the song is made of up: scale, chords, and practise these. And then, you'll find the song getting easier and easier as you begin to understand how it was made.
Learn from Experts
Learning from an expert can really help you become amazingly good at new skills. The person has already mastered these skills and will show you all the tricks of the trade to fast track you there in a shorter time frame. Observing and learning from an expert can really help you get each movement correctly and add accountability to your learning.
Learn with Your Best Sense
We all learn and process information in different ways. When practising guitar, you can use a combination of your senses to help you understand what you’re learning in a more cultivated and conscious way.
Here are the main senses used for guitar learning:
Kinesthetic (doing/ touch and movement)
Everyone is more prone to be naturally drawn to one sense or another, however getting to know your comfort zone is a task in and of itself. Finding out which method of learning is best for you will accelerate your learning in any subject tenfold. So how do you find out which of your senses you’re most dominant in?
Ask yourself these questions:
How long do I spend on the phone?
Do you enjoy looking at pictures, paintings or reading books?
What superpower would you like to have the most?
Here is an example of how this can be applied to learning guitar. If you're unprompted, how are you drawn to approach the guitar?
Visual: Reading music or watching someone else play and copying what they are doing. Do you find yourself learning from Youtube?
Sound: Singing melodies for songs that you love, or hearing people speak
Kinesthetic: Clapping rhythms or beats to a song, (you know a drummer when you see one hey?!)
To summarize, by breaking the larger skills down into smaller chunks and understanding how these smaller tasks or skills create ‘the bigger picture’ you'll learn more efficiently and thus quickly. You'll be a bulletproof player.