A few years ago, I decided to finally learn how to play the guitar that had been sitting untouched in my basement for the previous 12 years. I practiced for 10 minutes, three times per day (if not more), strumming chords until my fingers cramped up. It was great fun, but very challenging and mentally exhausting.
Kids, whose brains and nervous systems are still developing, must rely on their environments to learn, which makes it easier to absorb information more quickly (and establish those early neural connections in their brains). Adults, on the other hand, process information by relying on habits and patterns we already know. This is why it’s so much harder for us to learn new things—we have to undo habits and reprogram our neural pathways.
Deliberate practice is a systematic form of practice that’s focused on improving performance. Repetition is an important component of practice, but with deliberate practice, we break the learning process down into chunks, identify errors and weaknesses, and take the necessary steps to correct them. Practice, evaluating feedback, and testing ways to improve allows us to achieve a higher level of proficiency in less time.
Set aside 20 to 30 minutes every day to learn or practice a musical instrument.
*Set a goal. For example, your goal can be to learn “Let It Be” on the piano.
*Deconstruct the activity. Break the piece up into simple chunks, such as learning the proper finger positioning for a chord, or practicing a particular chord transition.
*Find the tools to help you learn, such as a music teacher, online music courses, or a YouTube channel.
*Make time to practice. For example, practice every morning at 9 a.m. for 20 minutes. Don’t forget to turn off your devices and distractions!
*Get constant feedback. Record yourself practicing and pay attention to mistakes, start over, and fix them.
*When you’re not practicing, visualize yourself getting it right.
*Watch videos or listen to recordings of others playing the piece of music you are learning.
- WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, HOW OFTEN – list the details of the challenge on the Accountability Tracker.
2. DOCUMENT IT ON THE CHALLENGE CALENDAR:
3. THE REWARD – don’t forget to document your reward on the accountability tracker! How will you reward yourself? Do you respond better to milestone rewards or are you holding out for the big daddy upon completion? What will it be? What motivates you?
4. KEEP TRUDGING FORWARD – don’t give up. If you fall off the wagon, keep moving forward! Ask for help. That’s what family and friends are for!
5. REFLECTION – reflect on the challenge – what went well, and what could be better. Learn from this and use this to improve on yourself and your future challenges!
What’s your Challenge? Get started today!