Artist development

Learning new skills fast

In today´s post I am sharing my 3 tips on how to learn new skills fast and with minimum effort. This comes in handy when learning to play an instrument or studying music theory, which ultimately also needs to be applied. Let´s look into the 3 steps to success!

1. Gain an understanding of the theory and apply

Let´s say you are learning a new language.  Let´s make it Spanish. The theory would refer to gaining an understanding of the grammar. Grammar being the rules that determine how sentences are built. You would also have to memorize the vocabulary…one word at a time. These two theoretical building blocks enable you to apply the language. To create sentenes on your own, you have to practice a lot though, in order to develop speed and to internalize the theoretical rules. So you have to do the work and read a lot and analyze and form new sentences regularly.

Same goes for singing. Does knowing how to breathe deep and how to use your mouth to shape vowels and consonants make you a good singer? No. You have to practice! Develop a feel for it. Apply apply apply. But before things become second nature, you will constantly have to check in with the theory. Am I breathing correctly? What about my breath support? Am I tensing up in my body? Am I keeping my jaw relaxed etc.

It  takes lots of awareness, memorizing the rules and practice slowly, before that skill sinks in!

The key here is repetition! Awareness and repetition, which brings me to the next tip:

2. Repeat over and over in little chunks

Repetion is essential in learning! The more you repeat something, the more “muscle memory” you will develop! It is like training a dog! Walking him through the same experience (e.g. petting the dog) each time he sits down. Ultimately through repetion the dog´s brain will link his action to a result and induce a call for action. The key is, to take breaks in between practice sessions! It is more effective to practice for 10 minutes, then take a break and give it another 10 minutes as compared to practicing 20 minutes at once!

The brain needs time to process and build synapses. Each time you try again, you will become a little better! Repeating the experience is key!

3. Embed into a context early on

But then there is another good trick to make things sink in faster. And that is making (emotional) connections! Associations. Anything that signals to your brain that what you are internalizing is of importance!  Emotional context is very strong by nature. It adds relevance! You have to WANT to learn something ultimately.

Let´s go back to learning Spanish. One way to remember words more easily is to put them into context. Listen to songs you love and go through the lyrics and learn to sing along. Translate the song and automatically these words will stick to your brain more easily than if you tried to just learn them in isolation in a vocabulary book. The song holds meaning for you!

Same goes for playing the piano! You might have practiced playing chords and ryhthmic patterns over and over, but once you play an actual song that you like, you develop a sense of achievement.  This makes you happy or proud and helps you internalize the chords a lot faster than merely playing chords one after the other without context!

I hope you got the idea!
To help you memorize the content of this post, please feel free to make a screenshot of the graphic below and print it out, if you want to!

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