#20 5000th Forum Post and 4 Keys to Learning
Today is a good day for a Road Case update. I happened to notice a couple of numbers the other day and they seemed to be lining up to make this fitting:
30 YouTube subscribers … while I am not on a mission to become a YouTuber with 100s and 1000s of subscribers, it seems human nature that having put oneself out there, one hopes that people watch. So I do enjoy the fact that I have more than just my brother subscribing, but shan’t be investing time in building a subscriber base by getting out there on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others that I couldn’t name.
40 months of musical adventure … a well rounded number of months since starting off with Lesson 1, Stage 1. How time flies.
4999 Forum Posts … this was the number that caught my eye. And I watched carefully, like a batsman in the nervous nineties (apologies to those west of the Atlantic, to whom a cricket metaphor is likely to be lost and I suppose to everyone else, everywhere else to whom a cricket metaphor is lost), having decided that this update would be my 5000th post.
So here it is. But truth be told, haven’t got much of an update since my 3rd JGversary episode posted 4 months ago…
A few more covers posted. A few more Open Mic performances.
Still working on the picking pattern but have started working on an original song, rather than learning one of Dylan’s.
I have started working on the first basic exercise Justin recommends when starting to develop picked finger style. Working on it with a lack of regular attention that suggests it may be a while before I starting using it in even an incredibly poor emulation of Neil Young.
I have also started working on the palm-muted strumming technique. I have decided to produce an original song using the technique and the typical Oasis chord grips I have watched Johan aka Loefgren use so often.
Oh and the odd dabble and noodle over a Guitar Challenge backing track … to really improve that would require some focus on the Blues rhythm and Lead courses … don’t feel inclined right now.
I suppose, in a nutshell, I am consolidating post the Beginner Course, with the E and A shape Intermediate barre chord shapes thrown in and the introductory folk-finger style modules. But mostly consolidating to improve the level of my basics: playing and singing, recording and performing live.
Most importantly I continue to have fun, feel slow improvement and enjoy hanging out here with all the rest of my Forum Friends.
Not much of an update, so decided to share something a little different …
As you may know I am also a Toastmaster. A few weeks ago I found myself in a position where I needed to give a speech with almost no notice, no time to prepare. So I resorted to talking about something special to me that I thought might serve as generally inspiration to the audience … it was before confinement, so an actual in-the-flesh audience … my guitar adventure.
That journey from wishing and dreaming but believing I lacked the talent to make the wishes come true, to the dreams becoming reality.
I refined the ideas to deliver the speech again on Sunday evening. I thought perhaps some of the folk new to the Community, maybe those like me who’ve already chalked up a 50 years of living, and wonder if it is possible.
Well I believed it wasn’t in me … that I lacked dexterity, coordination and the most basic feel for rhythm. And yet here I am. And I can simplify it to 4 keys, 4 keys to unlock the shackles and take the journey to this point where I think it is fair to say I can play … not like my most loved Neil Young and the rest, not like some of the people who’s postings I listen to with great appreciation … but play play to an OK level, I never imagined possible.
And it matters not. If I am now as good as I am going to get then I will continue to live the dream, actually more than I ever imagined when I started.
So the 4 keys …
Find the right teacher. Here we are, students of Justin Sandercoe. No arguments on his qualities as a teacher. And he was the right teacher for me.
Adopt a growth mindset. This was important for me, given the limiting beliefs I held about my lack of talent that make learning to play in any decent fashion impossible. I forget where I first read of the Growth Mindset. I do remember Maggie aka Batwoman posting this infographic which sums it up better than my prose can:
And if you’d like to know more, then you can always read Carol Dweck’s book “Mindset”. If a book is too much reading, try this blog post: Carol Dweck: A Summary of The Two Mindsets. And if that is still too much reading then watch one of her TED Talks.
Changing my mindset, and striving to adopt the growth mindset certainly played a part.
- Deliberate practice
Now this topic of talent and practice surfaces here periodically. Often based around Malcolm Gladwell’s famous/infamous (depending on your own point of view), best-selling book, “Outliers”. Now when giving the speech, I ask the audience who may have read it, heard of it. Usually only one or two have. But ask how many know of the “10,000 hour rule” and the majority know all about it. That makes a point in itself. And I have no intention to open the discussion here. But it is disconcerting how little people need to know to adopt such a statement as their truth.
Moving on from the conceptual ideas about success and mastery expressed by Gladwell, I think one can find value in the idea of deliberate practice. I think, stand to be corrected, that Anders Ericsson did the research and writing. I recently came across this blog post, which I enjoyed on the topic: The Beginner's Guide to Deliberate Practice - James Clear
And if one sets aside the counting of hours, for me it really doesn’t matter. I find this notion of deliberate practice to be empowering. I can’t say how many hours I have invested, how deliberate my practice was. But for the proof is in the pudding and I can play now like I never could before, having made a few attempts over the decades since starting off as a 19 year old student.
But if the matter of hours remains important to you, take a look this article shared here, possibly by Majik or maybe Stitch, I forget: https://www.6seconds.org/2018/02/09/the-great-practice-myth-debunking-the-10000-hour-rule-and-what-you-actually-need-to-know-about-practice/
And this would suggest that nature and nurture have some influence on your ability and capacity to learn something. At this stage, I aspire no more than to continue to learn and improve, primarily for my own enjoyment and satisfaction. So I am not too fussed. The truth of these theories is of little consequence.
- Quality feedback.
I think it may have been Brian who pointed out that the Forum serves to address a potentially serious limitation in online learning. That of not having a teacher who can observe and provide you feedback. Without feedback you will not know for sure that what you are doing is well done, solving problems can be difficult and knowing what needs to be worked on to improve. I say limitation as I am sure you can serve yourself to a degree, some maybe more than others.
For me the feedback from the Community was invaluable. First and foremost encouragement. It works for me to know that I am not alone. The confirmation of improvement has been invaluable. I think I am getting better, but it helps me when others also say so. And finally the pointing out of things that are not quite right, that need attention.
With these 4 keys, I have come along way. As I have said many times before, I don’t consider myself to be innately talented. The 4 keys plus desire and the discipline to take instruction from the teacher and follow the programme, will lead to learning and greater levels of mastery … a degree of mastery. I may never attain a world class level of mastery, but I can achieve levels more than sufficient for the average hobbyist.
If you are still reading, I salute you and hope you have gleaned something of value and even inspiration from my thoughts and experience.
And with that, let me press “post” on this 5000th post
See you round for more magical musical adventures!