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.

Distractions and Goals

Well, another New Year is upon us and as many of us do, I have spent some time reflecting on the past year as well as pondering what the new year may hold for me.  While thinking about the past year I have come to realize that I have been easily distracted.  So much so that I have had a hard time sticking to a constant practice schedule. 

It seems almost everyday I find a new and interesting, usually bass or music related, blog or site to check out.  Some days I get lost in the Talkbass or Thunder Row forums for hours.  I’ve recently started to work on improving my abysmal guitar skills, additionally my Electric Upright Bass calls to me every so often and I take her out for a few days or weeks.   Then there’s my fretless, oh and effects, I can get lost for days fiddling around with my Zoom B1x.  Recording is always on the back of my mind, whether it be on my iPad or my computer, recording song ideas or video recording myself playing.  On top of all this there is always more theory to learn and more and more books to read, such as Janek Gwizdala’s new book and Joseph Patrick Moore’s, and did I hear Damian Erskine has one as well?

Playing in a cover band I am always learning new songs, plus I am a bit of a gear freak and love to tweak on my amp, or mess around with the 9 different basses I have (10 including the aforementioned EUB).  My search for the ultimate gigging combo consumed much of my time in recent weeks as well, and am happy to have finally made a choice and put that behind me. (Look for a post on that very soon).

So far I’ve just been talking about my “Bass/Music” life here.  As is to be expected, my kids are a constant distraction and then there’s my job.  I am in the Audio Visual business so there is always a new gadget to checkout, new software to try and the constant drive to stay current in fast paced, ever changing environment.  Oh, and did I mention that I love to read!

Let’s face it, we are all aware that life is full of distractions, but at some point we need to hunker down and decide what is really import and try, and I emphasis try, to focus on what is really meaningful to you.  I believe in living life to the fullest and experiencing as much as I can, but it is easy to get lost in it all and to burn yourself out.  I am just now becoming conscious of the fact that for a large part of 2012 I was just burnt and needed to slow everything down.  I let too many distractions in and was not able to accomplish any of the goals I had set for myself earlier in the year.

Fortunately I am feeling great now and am ready to take on some new challenges but will try not to lose focus of what’s important.  For 2013 I hope to get back into a more regular practice routine, to start writing more often, with a goal of 1 post a week, to continue contributing my share to my band as well as reviews and such to Bass Players United, Thunder Row and the TalkBass communities.  Family will always come first, but music is very important to me, even more so than my job at this point, though I obviously need to keep pace there in order to pay the bills  😉

So here’s to a great 2013, may your goals be distraction free!

Distractions comic