“I always wanted to play the piano, but now it will take me so much time to learn it”.
Or ”I would love to be able to play that solo, but that’s way too hard for me!”.
Or, “Learning to record drums at this age?…mmm..Impossible”.
We all wish we could learn things quickly and apply them in our daily life. However sometimes, we feel like there isn’t much time at our disposal due to our busy lives. It doesn’t have to be music related. It could be learning how to speak another language, or learning how to cook.
In his latest book called Ultralearning, Scott H. Young explains the possibility of learning new skills in the shortest amount of time, while still achieving the maximum result. By designing new projects you will push yourself to learn things in the smartest way possible. To do that he uses these 9 principles that I have summarised here below.
The very first thing to do when learning something new is spending at least 10% of the overall time planning (or mapping) the road ahead. Research which are the typical ways of learning this particular subject and ask people that are already at a good level how they learned.
Make sure that once you decide to start your project you minimise distractions. Therefore, your phone or any device that can distract you, need to be off. Try to get to the point where you can concentrate and reach a state of flow easily.
When learning something new it’s easy to practice for hours without actually putting ourselves in a position of performance. It’s crucial to learn a new skill and then test it in the environment where we will be performing it. In that way your practice will be reviewed and tested in the “real world”.
Let’s say you’re learning how to play a song. If there is a section in which you keep playing the same mistakes over and over, just stop and focus only on that particular part. Isolating our weaknesses and working on them will help us improve the overall performance.
Once you’ve learned a song, try to test yourself in any possible way. Try to play it without backing track or learn how to play it in a different key. Don’t just assume you will remember, but actually examine and question yourself to the point where you actually know what you’re learning inside out.
Try not to avoid criticism, but actually look for it. When learning it’s easy to get complacent and think that the way we are learning is the right way. Ask other people’s opinion and then try to use their feedback to improve your learning.
When learning something new you want to be able to remember things not only for one particular performance, but rather for the longest time possible. It’s easy to forget things once you’ve learned them mnemonically. Try to repeat and practice as much as possible so that what you’ve learned stays with you forever.
Try to understand what you’re learning at a deeper level. You need to know the subject you’re studying inside out. You can do that by asking yourself as many questions as possible. You want to be able to teach the ideas and concepts you’re studying to someone else.
When learning try to experiment with different methods and see which works best for you. Try to copy other people’s work and then check the differences. By constantly trying out new techniques you will improve your skill to the point of actually mastering it.
These points are the base and foundation to help you learn things quicker, but also to make sure that what you’re learning stays with you for the longest time possible. I found these principles and this book in general to be very helpful for what I do on a daily basis as a musician. It gives you the guidelines to a direct approach on how to accomplish something new. Plus, learning new skills is fun and the more we learn the more curious we become. Therefore, it could be learning a particular skill or concept in music, or how to build a software from scratch, nothing is impossible.
‘till next time!