The common mistakes or misconception by beginner student is that when first started, they are very excited and motivated. This is why we sign up for classes, getting a hold of a very nice violin or cello. We can easily do 2 hours of practice a day, consistently for a week or 2.
However, after some time, says a month, when we don’t see ourselves playing as the YouTuber like the piano guys or Lindsey Stirling, the practice dies down; and sooner or later we give up on the goal to become a better violinist or cellist.
In fact, this happens all the time not just when we are picking up new music skills. e.g. starting on a diet, reading a book, or improving family/friend relationships.
If this is you, and you are hoping to get some practical tips on changing the situation, then you are on the right page.
What progress is really like?
Firstly, let’s have a clearer idea of what is expected in the journey while learning an instrument.
Plateau of Latent Potential
We often expect learning progress to be linear. However, the result of our effort is often delayed. This can result in a “Valley of disappointment” (shown in the chart) where students feel discouraged after putting in weeks of hard work without experiencing any results.
However, please understand that this work was not wasted. It was simply being stored. It is not until much later that the fun value that you put in can be seen. BUT if you stop the practices and give up at this stage, the effort will then be “wasted”.
To put things into perspective, if you go to the gym 3 days in a row, you’re still out of shape. If you are learning a new language for an hour for a week, you still aren’t able to master that language. And the pitfall is this: We make a few changes, but the results never seem to come quickly and we slide back to our previous routines.
The practice that you do daily might seem to make little to no difference on any given day and yet the impact they deliver over the months and years can be obvious.
Forget about Goals and Focus on System
Goals are about the results you want to achieve and systems are about the processes that lead to those results.
As a music student, your goal probably is to learn your favourite song. Your system however is how often you practice, how effective are those practices and how you breakdown and tackle the tempo, dynamics articulation and bowing, etc.