Oh man, I really want to how to get good at playing the piano! Well, I better get on the Internet and search for the best tips to achieve this! This is a mindset I used to have for a really long time and I think a lot of you out there have the same mentality. While the internet is a gigantic library with seemingly unlimited possibilities, it is also something which should be used efficiently.
One should be aware that there are ‘dangers’ behind constantly looking for tutorials and should learn how to learn efficiently first. Let me repeat that, before learning something new, it is essential to know how to learn! The lack of attention this gets in the educational system is downright appalling. I will talk in another article on tips how to study better, which is something also neglected in the educational system.
Elements of learning a new skill
Learning something new nowadays is simple, but it requires much work AND time (depending on your endgoal). Please understand the difference between easy and simple. Easy means it comes without much work. Simple means it is not complex. You need to understand you can learn ANYTHING you like to. It just takes time. Discard the mindset: I want to learn skill X in 1 month. It is excellent to set deadlines for yourself, but stay realistic. Have respect for the exploration of a new skill and learn with as little stress as possible. Setting unrealistic deadlines for yourself will ultimately lead to a forfeit of the attempt. Maybe even before seriously attempting it!
Okay, let’s move on. When learning something new efficiently, you need to balance theoretical knowledge with practice. The old school way of learning is by practice. Make no mistake, there are people who learn to play the piano without any knowledge of musical theory. There are people who learn how to draw without having read a single drawing book. Just by TRIAL AND ERROR. Trial and error is impossible to omit from a learning process. Luckily, there is also theoretical knowledge. This comes through a teacher, a book or a video and transfers knowledge to you to ‘skip’ certain trial and error phases. Therefore, it can significantly enhance your learning process!
Overabundance of information
With the seemingly infinite library of knowledge at our disposal, learning something easy has never been easier. However, this is also a problem. From my experience, the most noticeable negative side effects from an overdependence on external materials is the fact that one keeps sucking up information without ever taking action. This is a huge problem. A skill can be mastered with practical knowledge alone, but never with only theoretical knowledge. I can read all the piano books I want to and memorize all of them, but it does not mean I can play the piano properly. The problem is there is a overabundance of knowledge. And often they are conflicting as well. While there are many reasons for the latter, as a deficiency in the scientific system or insufficient research, all of this results in a conflict in one's head and a lack of a clear path to the vision. One gives up before even trying and the curiosity for this skill by the inner child dies with it… Truly tragic if you ask me. I’d say keep the spark alive and start your journey. It's okay to look for theoretical knowledge first, but limit yourself to how much you take in, practice and then you will see what you need. Then you can look for that specifically. This problem is also indicated by a youtuber named Mike Boyd. He is a youtuber who loves exploring new skills and might be an interesting channel to check out.
As a conclusion I would like to give you the following points of attention.
- Learning a new skill has never been easier. There is a seemingly infinite library of knowledge.
- Knowledge can easily be found, but it is meaningless without the practical effort.
- Before starting a new skill try to think in what little steps a skill can be build up. For example for learning the piano, one needs: a piano/keyboard, learning notes, scales etc. In this stage it is a good idea to scan the field for theoretical knowledge. Start broad! Do not look for specific things. Limit this initial search. For example say: "I am going to search information about these matters in the next hour". Afterwards I will have a general sense of what to do and I will undertake action to explore the sections of this skill by practicing.
- Understand learning takes time. Just enjoy the ride. If you work without fun, you will not learn at all. You will give up, or forget what you have learned.
- Think for yourself. Everyone thinks they know something better than the other, so think for yourself. As you have practiced, so are now a explorer too!
Last but not least, learning something new means to keeping your mind young and fresh.