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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 December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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