(An expanded and/or edited version of this post appears in Rhan’s new book, All In Good Time – a Book About Playing Music for the Aspiring Ukulele Player. It is available at: www.rhanwilson.com/allingoodtime )
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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