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6 Clever Music Hacks That Speed Up Learning

6 Clever Music Hacks That Speed Up Learning

It’s no secret that musicians spend an insane amount of time honing their skills. Top performers practice smart; they can learn quickly to maximize their strengths. Here are the music psychology hacks to get ahead, whether you’re honing a hobby or perfecting your business skill.

1. Don’t picnic in the middle of the jungle

If you’re stuck in the practice, grab a thread of what you just saw, and then weave a blanket. Or change the key. Change the octave. Change your nail polish.

The fact that you’re stuck means you’re trying to get somewhere, so practice deliberately.

Deliberate practice means being aware of what you’re doing and never going on autopilot because you’re present, in the moment. This is the quickest way to improve a skill.

You can also practice mindlessly. Mindless practice means being on autopilot, perhaps daydreaming. Mindless practice means you can’t complain about being stuck, because you’re not going anywhere.

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2. Play chunks

Music breaks into chunks. A chunk can be one line of a song. Good musicians focus on chunks of music rather than the entire piece. This powerful technique transfers into any skill, targeting weak spots while keeping easy bits in the back pocket.

To use this effectively, chunk up and work on small goals. You don’t start a basketball career by scoring 100 baskets. The coach shows you how to hold the ball in good shooting stance, and then you drill that into a reflex so it holds under pressure.

But sometimes the chunks go nowhere; the ball slips when you try to balance it or the line of song doesn’t flow right. To avoid this, smart musicians have two pieces of music in their arsenal.

3. Chunk, on-the-go

One weirdly effective music technique is mental practice–using your imagination to concoct a practice session. Do it during break, during lunch, during that time before bed. Top performers stay in shape by practicing in their heads as well.

Of course mental practice doesn’t replace real, physical practice, but this is your extra push.

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4. Interrupt yourself

If you’re stuck in a rut, take a 10 minute break–a pattern interrupt. Leave the room to do something entirely unrelated.

You’ll come back refreshed with new ideas. A pattern interrupt will save your time and sanity.

This is likely to work better if you don’t time your practice. You don’t know when you’ll get stuck, so timing for productivity is like catching butterflies in the dark. Half an hour can be productive on Monday and frustrating on Tuesday.

5. You need a friend and a grammar book.

(They can’t be the same thing.)

You can never hear your own music with the delicious anticipation of the sweet first note, because you’ve played that shebang. You’re pulling the rope traps. You miss Richard III’s squinty eyes. So, ask a musician friend or two to listen before sharing your music with the world; everyone has a different definition of perfect.

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Keep in mind, when practicing, the goal is never perfection.

Perfectionists are the worst at learning; they give up when confronted with the possibility of failure and avoid risks so no one sees their mistakes.

Top performers rifle through a million mistakes to find the right methods. They are the masters of grammar; they make magic by manipulating the basics, backwards and forwards.

Mastering a skill is really about mastering its grammar. In music, one aspect of the grammar is playing a series of notes, without unnecessary tension. When a pianist performs onstage, she is essentially playing the basic notes in a thousand different ways. You can bet that she’s made a million mistakes offstage.

Practice your grammar by making as many mistakes as possible. Studies show that you are the average of the 5 people closest to you, and that your friends will motivate you the most. So, grab a grammar book and practice with a friend.

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6. Scare yourself

Creativity means breaking away from order, drawing a new box when the existing one is in a rut. Studies find that improvising, especially on an instrument, engages the creative-thinking parts of the brain; jazz pianists are known to be more creative than their classical counterparts.

Let yourself break away from order to explore new territory. Your best performance will be scary, exhilarating, raw.

Do you play an instrument? Here are The Top 17 Ways Learning a Musical Instrument Gives You The Edge.

Featured photo credit: José Eduardo Deboni via photopin.com

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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