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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 September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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