These are just some random samples of motivational thoughts that Jason Gartner likes to share with his music students. Hopefully something here helps you today as you read these.
You can’t until you can. I’ve heard a million “I can’t”s followed by a few tries, and then success pretty much every time.
Repetition is your friend. If you want to get good at something, do it a lot.
I’ve never heard anyone brag about quitting, but I’ve heard lots of people brag about their follow through.
Take pride in your advancing diligence. If you used to only practice 2 days a week and now you practice three days a week that’s a neat thing.
Music has a deep tradition of helping people to relax, get motivated, or express emotions that they need to express. As you learn music you are becoming a part of that tradition.
Try the 100 repetitions challenge. Someday take a second and try repeating some difficult little chop a hundred times in a row carefully and patiently and see how much you get used to it after just one hundred repetitions.
I bet that your brain is just as good as anyone’s. If you take a moment to carefully work on fixing a spot where the muscle memory is challenging, and then repeat that careful fix consistently for about 20 repetitions, you will get just as good at that as anyone else of your level could.
We like the myth of that person who’s just amazingly gifted from birth, but the truth is that anybody who gets extremely talented practiced a lot, even and especially Mozart.
You’re your most important teacher. Student advancement mostly has to do with individual student diligence during the week and over the long journey.
Try the 5 to 10 minutes a day challenge. Take that one skill that you’ve been avoiding that would also be the most useful next skill, and practice it first thing every practice session for 5 to 10 minutes. Brian Tracy would call this “eating that frog.”
Eat your elephant one bite at a time. Take a look at how talented you were last year or two years ago. Have you developed new ideas and skills? Almost certainly yes. Next year, you’ll be even better.
If you have a day that you feel like watching TV instead of practicing guitar, sit in front of the TV and practice some small thing on the guitar while watching TV. Every proficient guitarist talks about having done this at one time or another.
You don’t get fast without practicing fast. You don’t get control without practicing control. Practice a little of each and then put them together.
The metronome is your friend. I’ve watched fairly new beginners get a complex right hand pattern up to full speed in a single lesson by doing a gradual metronome build up.
What is talent? Who was more talented? Michael Jackson or Beethoven? Take a second and really think about it. I don’t have an answer. They’re 2 different variations of musical talent. You need to focus on becoming you musically. Your teacher can only facilitate that with development of basic skills and concepts. As you discover you, you’ll find that you really are interesting.
While the jury on nature vs. nurture is still out, the findings on diligence have been understood for generations. Hard work trumps talent every time.
The test of your diligence will be on the day that you don’t feel like it and do it anyway. The reward will come when you discover that you are actually glad that you did.
Talk to your teacher. Tell him your concerns. You aren’t qualified to tell him how to teach, but you’re incredibly qualified to consult with him about your interests, self doubt, and questions about the usefulness of one exercise vs. another. This will actually help your teacher to better meet your needs.
Learn to recognize difficult sections of songs and give those extra isolated attention in your practice. You can save a ton of time by doing this.
Everyone needs a break once in a while. Breaks help us renew our willpower. Of course, it’s exercising willpower that helps us grow our willpower. So stay balanced in how many breaks you allow yourself to take if you want to really develop your talents.
You will have off days and on days coordination-wise. If you stay consistent you’ll eventually get so good that even when you know you’re off, you’ll sound good to others.
Often the second day that you try something it’s miraculously easier. Your brain often does the work for you while you sleep. So keep trying day after day.
Being a music student who avoids learning basic music theory is like being a car owner who avoids learning basic principles of car maintenance.
Some teachers tell you not to waste your money taking lessons if you’re not going to practice all the time. To me this is a like a car salesman telling you not to waste your money buying a fancy car if you’re not going to drive it all the time, or any other salesman telling you a similar story. It’s none of their business. What you do with what you’ve paid for with your hard earned money is your business. So have fun and be in charge of your own practice ethic. I will give you advice. It is professional advice, but in the end you’re the one paying for the service.
If you’re concerned about wasting your money on music lessons, then make sure that you practice at least 15 minutes a day on at least 5 days out of the week. You can further ensure your sense of value by learning classical music or some other more rare talent that sets you apart as an extra accomplished amateur musician. Otherwise just be at peace with developing talents in the usual way, the diligent way, one day, one week, one year at a time.
Music is a language. Whenever I’ve learned a new language, I’ve spent months and years listening and studying before sudden bursts of growth in fluency would happen. It’s always been consistency that’s gotten me there whether in guitar, piano, drums, voice, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, German, and Swedish. All these things have come to me after patience and consistency.
Sometimes waiting for perfection before moving on just means that nothing gets done. Sometimes you’ve learned a part well enough. Now you need to live with it by trying it a little more each day. In the meantime, keep learning new material, or the next part of the song, etc. Perfectionism is the enemy of progress.
When you learn a language, it works best if you combine lessons and immersion. The same works for music. If you have an opportunity to take a class at school such as choir, band, or group guitar while also taking private lessons, then you will progress even faster in your musicianship.
I like to teach that there are 4 levels to song mastery. Level 1 means that you are starting to get a lot of the notes right, but that you still are playing some wrong notes or missing some notes. Level 2 means that you are able to play all the notes, transitioning in the right order, but that you still need to improve your timing by eliminating pauses or mastering rhythmic concepts. Level 3 means that you are playing the right notes with the right timing. Level 4 means that you are playing everything right and you have added feeling to it. Work through the levels when needed.
Let me say it again. Hard work beats talent every time.
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