Take your foot off the brakes!

So often I have been asked to help someone learn something about music: new chords, strumming, singing, etc., but almost always the first thing they say to me (and often repeated throughout the lesson) is something to the effect of, “I can’t do this.”

There are countless variations to these negations; sometimes they say, “I am horrible at rhythm,” or they will constantly shake their head at the mere mention of a new term they hadn’t heard before.

Now I understand the tendency to want to “warn” me of one’s problem areas, but c’mon – it’s like asking me to help you push your car and having your foot on the brakes! Not only is it not necessary, but it actually prohibits me from helping you.

If you want to learn something, you have to take your metaphorical foot off the brakes and HELP PUSH! That’s right – aim yourself in the direction you want to go, and push! And just like a car – it’s a little hard at first, but as you gain some momentum, it gets easier and easier.

This is always the first thing I teach people, and it often takes up a good portion of the first (and subsequent) lesson/s, because I have found that once I can get my student to “get their foot off their brakes” – then the actual learning of material proceeds rather easily.

We have all formed some bad habits. I, too, have to always watch what, and how, I phrase things.

Here are some suggestions:

Instead of saying:  “I am no good at….”
Say: “I wasn’t good at…”
Or: “I haven’t been good at…”

Instead of saying: “I can’t……”
Say: “I will try to…..”
Or better yet: “I can…..”

Instead of saying:  “I have no rhythm.”
Say:  “I’d like to improve my rhythm.”
Or: “I am improving on my rhythm.”

These are subtle changes, and you might not think them that important, but they make a HUGE difference in how we learn. By simply stating our intentions in the positive, we have effectively taken off the brake and are free to move in the desired direction.

Now, what was it you wanted help with?

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5 Responses to “Take your foot off the brakes!”

  1. Mary leach Says:

    As an adult, when I first started playing music, I would get rather anxious because I wanted it “all now”, and because I was an adult I should somehow get it faster than a younger person…ha! It was a real challenge to slow down and allow myself to learn the basics. It may have been, too, a feeling of having to catch up for a lifetime of not playing—that there was so much music i want to play, but not having the skill to do it.
    Thankfully, now that I’m in a more intermediate level, that anxiety has subsided….for now anyway!

  2. Vince Says:

    Excellent commentary Rhan.

    Vince

  3. Martin and Syd Carlson Says:

    Rhan:  you have again hit the nail on the head.  I used to hear that all the time in my classes.  “I can’t do that”.  I always added the word “yet” to the end of the line.  “you can’t do that “yet”, but you will be able to learn to do it.”  Keep up the good work.  You are a huge asset to our community.  Marty

    >________________________________ > From: All In Good Time >To: sydmarty@sbcglobal.net >Sent: Thursday, November 21, 2013 9:15 AM >Subject: [New post] Take your foot off the brakes! > > > > WordPress.com >Rhan Wilson posted: “So often I have been asked to help someone learn something about music: new chords, strumming, singing, etc., but almost always the first thing they say to me (and often repeated throughout the lesson) is something to the effect of, “I can’t do this.” ” >

  4. Freddly Slacker Says:

    Good one, Rhan. Today’s thoughts are a fit for me.

    I also pictured a person who is on the gas pedal and brake pedal at the same time: that just tends to wear a person out.

    Freddly-it’s ok to take the foot off the brake pedal….it’s just a ukulele. Take the foot off and use it to keep time.

  5. gaynellewatts@aol.com Says:

    yes yes yes

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