7 Tips For Overcoming Learning Blocks

Bass_LayingThe dreaded “Learning Block”, at some point we all have one. Characterized as a point that you just can’t seem to move beyond. It may occur while trying to learn a new concept or technique, or maybe a new song. You get to a certain level and you just can seem to move beyond it. You become frustrated and have the urge to give up, to walk away.

So what do you do? How do you push through?  Here are 7 tips that I use to for overcoming learning blocks when they occur.

1. Analyze Your Approach

Sometimes you need to step back from what you are trying to learn and analyze your approach. When I get stuck I try to break the material down into smaller chunks, mastering each bit before moving on to the next one. Once I have mastered all of the bits, I then work on putting them together as a complete piece. Trying to do too much at once can be very overwhelming. Remember not to bite off more than you can chew.

2. Focus

Look to remove any distractions and set clear, attainable goals to focus upon. When I truly focus on a task, I find that not only do I achieve my goal, but I do so quickly and efficiently.

3.  Keep a Log

To clearly see improvement we must log our practice sessions. In this way we can track our advancement, no matter how small. Along with a written log, you should aim to record yourself at least once a week to further analyze your playing.

4. Take Another Road

Look to other sources for the same information, sometimes learning is all in the presentation. I may learn something just fine by reading through material in a book, but you may learn better by watching a video demonstration of it. Look at it from another angle, especially if you find the material you are working from is too complicated.

5. Take a Break

Don’t work too long or push yourself too hard. Taking a break can help to clear your mind. If you are completely frustrated, step away for awhile, sleep on and come back to it the next day approaching the problem from a new direction.

6. Know When Your Beat

If you don’t have the fundamental skills needed, you may need to stop, reassess your skill set and decide whether or not you are ready to tackle the task at hand. This is what I did after I first reviewed Lesson 13 of Teach Me Bass Guitar. I realized that I was not yet ready to proceed, so I spent some time shoring up my existing skills.

7. Don’t Give Up

Always keep practicing. Don’t get caught up in trivial things, focus on what is important. If you feel stuck look at your practice routine and mix things up a bit, perhaps you just need a change. Try to practice everyday in order to internalize what you are trying to learn.

Good luck in Overcoming your Learning Blocks!

If you have any additional tips or seek help, feel free to share in the comments.

Playing Outside the Comfort Zone

Now that I am regularly playing with a band again I am increasingly finding myself outside of my comfort zone. The funny thing is that I love it! I have had to learn 30 plus songs in a short period of time, been asked to sing backup vocals, including 3-part harmonies. I spend hours learning songs only to find out at practice that we are playing half of them in a different key. I work on a handful of songs at home to get them down only to come to practice and have two new ones thrown at me and then work through songs I haven’t even touched in a week or so.  Hell they had me singing lead vocals on a song as I was learning it, now I knew how the song went as that it’s a song I have listened to many times but still, I normally prefer to learn a song, get it down pact and then learn the vocal if I have to sing it.

Typically I try to be pretty precise when learning a new song, listening to the track and trying to play it note for note as well as capture the subtle nuances. I may change or drop a fill here and there, but basically I like to stay true to the original. Well, it seems the guitar player in my band is the complete opposite. On top of changing keys, he will change the song structure, play the bridge twice or drop it completely, change the tempo and feel of song and basically make it his own. While I think this is pretty cool, it’s not how I am use to doing things. Needless to say, it certainly keeps me on my toes.

I wanted to get back into a band as that I feel it is key to becoming a better player. So far I think that is exactly what I am doing. By having my boundaries constantly pushed, I am learning a lot. Thankfully the guys in the band are very supportive so if I am way off the mark on something, they take the time to work through it with me to show me what they are trying to accomplish. As Victor Wooten would say, “Boy have I got a lot to learn!”

Where the Twain Shall Meet: Returning to Teach Me Bass Guitar

Funny thing happened to me while studying music theory, after a certain point things stopped making sense to me. I was fine with Intervals, Triads, Seventh Chords, and have even improved my music reading ability, but when I started studying modes I began to feel lost. After reviewing modes a few times, and still not really getting it, I decided to crack open my Teach Me Bass Guitar book to remind myself what Lesson 13 had in store for me. You may recall that upon completion of Lesson 12 I had decided to take a break from TMBG to go back and shore up my music theory knowledge via the International Institute of Bassists Music Theory course as well as a couple of other books that I have picked up along the way. Well, low and behold, what you know, Lesson 13 of TMBG is all about the Diatonic Modes!

Putting it All Together

Seems I truly have been shoring up the concepts I have learned from Roy in the past 12 lessons and now that I am facing the unknown, it’s not clicking for me. This really brought it full circle for me and made me realize that it is time to return to TMBG. It seems that I am better able to grasp the concepts as presented by Roy, perhaps I’ve grown use to his style over the past 12 lessons, or maybe his style of teaching just appeals to me more, whatever the reason I know it is time to get to work on Lesson 13.

Realizations

On a related note, for the past month or so I have been mainly focusing on materials other than Teach Me Bass Guitar, and now that I am returning to it I have realized a couple of things. First, I can truly appreciate how well the course is laid out and how clear and organized the book is. Additionally, it is nice to see everything in a decent sized font! Some of the text in other materials that I have been studying have been so small that I had to wear my reading glasses while playing, something I have never felt the need to do with Teach Me Bass Guitar. And finally, Roy’s guidance through the course has been invaluable, having him walk you through the lessons via the DVD’s, providing insight and humor along the way is what really makes this course special. Anyway, I’m glad to be back at it, good times are ahead I am sure!

Anyone else have similar experience? Drop me note or leave a comment, I’d love to hear about it!