Posts Tagged ‘guitar’

Learning is like glitter…

April 16, 2021

Have you ever been present when there’s glitter thrown around or opened a card containing the some of the shiny stuff? It gets everywhere. Some of it lands on you where you can see it; some of it lands on the floor; and some of it, despite your best efforts to sweep it all up and throw away, is found later hidden in some pocket or crease in your clothing.

What if we imagined that learning is similar to having glitter tossed about us?

When we try to learn something it often seems that too much information has been thrown about, and that much of it lands on the floor and is wasted. We might have picked up a couple of bits of information, like the glitter that lands on us visibly, but after we process that information (cleaned up and vacuumed the floor) we might think that we learned all that we could at the time.

But like glitter, some of that information gets lodged in some cranny of our brains without our knowing it, and is likely to resurface at some time in the future.

Be on the lookout for those random glittery bits of information. And be confident that more will surface in time.

Take a Hard Class

July 3, 2018

Wouldn’t it be fun and informative to be a fly on the wall at a top level meeting where they are discussing a topic that is of interest to you?

Perhaps you have an interest in marketing and would like to know how the big decisions are made about logo placement and audience targeting – wouldn’t it be an eye opener to sit in on a meeting on a top floor executive meeting? Or imagine another “inner working” you’d like to be privy to… like music.

I teach a lot of music in both private and group settings and something I have observed is, that in many cases, students just want to review what they already know, or they are there just to have fun.

I often start a workshop by asking the attendees why they chose my particular workshop – in this case, a workshop on leading and following during play-alongs. One lady responded, “I just wanted to play some songs.” When I informed her that though we might be playing some songs in the class, we were really there to learn how to be a song leader and how to follow others who were leading. She got up, packed her uke, and left.

That was both a good thing and a not so good thing. One one hand, it’s good to be clear on what you want – on both our parts. She just wanted to have some fun, and I made it clear that I was going to teach some useful information. We both were better off. (By the way, we did have fun while learning.)

But it got me thinking about how much one could learn by challenging oneself. It’s true that reviewing information is helpful – taking an easy class to confirm your existing knowledge, but there are so many opportunities to do that without paying money to attend a festival or workshop series. Think of how much that woman would have learned about playing together – which was actually what she said she wanted to do!

And that brings me to my first paragraph’s statement: wouldn’t it be fun to be in a group where they are discussing top level information?

Why not take a class that is hard once in a while? Challenge yourself! Sit there politely and let the “know-it-alls” talk, but rather than look frustrated and let things “go over your head”, you simply listen and absorb the information discussed. Sure, you won’t know everything they are talking about but take notes and imagine yourself in that league. Make it a goal to someday soon, know what they are talking about. Put it in orbit! 

I remember as a young man, sitting in on rehearsals with a bunch of older musicians who were in a salsa band. I was so eager to learn and so honored to be allowed to sit there and listen to them discuss rhythms and how to improvise. Once in a while, they would let me play a simple part, but mostly I would just sit there and observe. I didn’t interrupt nor try to divert the conversation to something I could understand – I just listened. Wow, what a difference it made in my musical learning.

So I ask you: what do you think about what I’ve said?

Rub your Belly and Pat your Head

March 21, 2013

Is there a better way to describe the difficulty of doing two things at once than to use the example of rubbing one’s belly and patting one’s head at the same time?

As difficult as that can be – now imagine if you didn’t even know how to either rub your belly, or pat your head.

This is what learning a new song can be like: you are learning new chords, rhythms, AND trying to sing – all at the same time. No wonder you are having trouble!

Here’s my suggestion: take a look at the song. Look for odd chords you aren’t familiar with and spend a little time learning how to change to them from the previous chord, and from them to the one that follows.

Then try playing through the song without singing – just sort of hum the tune, or not sing at all and get the music to sound comfortable.

Then do the same with the lyrics. Sing it without the music, or along with a recording, so that you get familiar with the rhythm of the words.

Now, after you are good at doing both of those separately – try them together. Slowly. You might even choose to just hum the lyrics at first, so that you can concentrate on the chords and rhythm.

Allow yourself to go over it a few times – at first somewhat loosely and rough, and then with each passing attempt – refine the areas that need work.

Trying to do it perfectly the first time may be fun to try, but to really get it in your head – have patience and do it step by step.
And by the way, – can you rub your belly and pat your head at the same time?