One Step at a Time

  • Posted on: 28 September 2016
  • By: admin

Have you ever entertained the thought that learning music is something that's just not for you? That some people can do it and other's just can't? That some people just have a gift and they're the only ones that can get any good at it? Well there's some truth in that.

Howard Gardner from Harvard identified seven different intelligences that every one of us has in different degrees. One of these is musical intelligence, the ability to "show sensitivity to rhythm and sound". Important to this theory is the idea that "Where individuals differ is in the strength of these intelligences". We can all show sensitivity to rhythm and sound it's just that some of us find it easier than others. Those of us for whom it's not so easy aren't completely lost, we just have to go at it a different way, developing skills that we don't have by using the strengths that we do.

I struggled for years as a young man wanting to play and never being much good at it. I had some innate musical skills but too many weaknesses that held me back. Over many years I learned to develop those areas of weakness using the many strengths and skills that I do have, particularly the knack for analysis, Gardner's Logical-Mathematical intelligence. I worked hard, developed what musical abilities I do have and became a relatively competent player into my late 40's.

I can tell you because I know that no matter where you are now musically you can get better. I can also tell you that the key is in the learning of it. If you find that you're getting nowhere then it's not down to you, it's not because you're somehow not equipped to play. It's because you're not being taught properly.

Ask yourself:

  • Is your training structured, and purposeful?
  • Does it start from something that you already can do and gradually extend your boundaries, one small step at a time?
  • Does it give you clear guidelines around what what you should do and what outcomes you should expect?
  • Does it just expect you to know stuff that you don't?
  • Is it working for you?

Just don't think it's beyond you, it isn't.