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May 01

Talent is practice in disguise

by in Fundamentals

 

How often have you heard someone say, “I don’t have a musical bone in my body”? The way you think about your own talent has a powerful impact on motivation and learning. Here’s why learning to adapt a growth mindset to practice can boost your progress hugely – and how Melodics can help.

As Jonathan Harnum states in his book, The Practice of Practice, “Talent is practice in disguise”. We often think of ourselves as having a well defined set of talents, based on our upbringing, our DNA, or some otherworldly gift – bestowed on us from the musical gods. The reality is that the way we think about this actually affects how we can learn new skills and our motivation to do so.

Research by Carol Dweck in 1986, discovered that there are two kinds of intelligence, a fixed belief in your own talents, and the belief that these can change and grow. When you think of your own skills and talents as limited, you’re instantly building a barrier to learning and you’ll tend to take on tasks in practice that you’re more easily able to achieve rather than try something harder, gaining new knowledge through practice. The effect on motivation from having a fixed mindset to learning is huge. It’s one of the reasons why so many people want to learn instruments but never end up trying, or start but don’t follow through.

Have a think about these statements, and how you can reframe them within a growth, rather than a fixed mindset.

I’m afraid to look stupid. I hate failing.

Try to think of failure as something to help you progress. It’s just a reminder to work harder, and to approach the same problem from a different angle. A little bit of practice each day is the way to get better. Remember the Melodics 5 minute daily practice goal.

Remember, you’re not demonstrating your skills to yourself, you’re learning. Praise your effort, not your results.

I only like to play what I can play.

Seek out challenges. Try a lesson at a higher grade, but slow it down using Practice Mode. Focus on getting it right, rather than playing at full tempo. This is deep practice and the best way to progress. Read more on that here.

Persistence in the face of failure is what separates musicians from everyone else. When you make a mistake, you should understand it and work out the best approach to fixing it.

Finally… Don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s just music. Have fun!

For further reading on this topic, check out “The Practice of Practice” by Jonathan Harnum.

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