Generic advice like practice slowly, be more focused or use metronome often are very well meant, but usually useless. What we need is more specific, more actionable advice.
With the development of sophisticated tools, there is a lot of new research that shines light on the way our brain learns complex motor skills such as music. Thanks to that we can eliminate much of the guesswork from the process of acquiring new skills.
Our brain is a fantastic tool, if only we know how to use it properly.
We didn’t get any users manual when we were born and so most people do not really understand how our brain works. That’s why they are not capable to operate it in a way that brings them desired outcomes. All they have is a trial and error approach to learning which mostly produces mediocre results. As cognitive psychologist Bennet Shwartz points out “in many situations, the way that we think is the best way to learn is not, in fact, the ideal way.”
One of the most common misconceptions amongst people is the notion that our brain works like a computer.
People believe that if they just install a new program into their brain once, they are done. If the program is running properly right now, it should also run perfectly tomorrow, right?
If you are learning a new scale, you can get it right usually in 5 to 10 minutes. But will you be able to play it the same way also tomorrow? Most probably not and the reason why is pretty simple. What you are doing right now is stored in your short-term memory and most of it will be deleted once you start doing something else. As Dr. Bjork explain in the video below, current performance is a poor indicator of actual learning. Continue Reading →