February 15, 2017

Taking it all in – Learning new stuff

We are always learning – in school, at work, in social situations, and all the times in between are opportunities to learn.  So, when we sit at our harp it would be helpful if we knew exactly how to go about learning new music.  There are many ways to learn and it helps to use as many as possible.  It does help to actively think about how you will learn and here are eight ways to help you learn your music and how to play:

  1. Take care of you: if you’re thirsty or hungry you will have a harder time focusing, so before you start be sure to hydrate and have a snack.
  2. Know before you go: as they say, “plan your work and work your plan” – you’ll have an easier time learning if you know what you are trying to learn before you start!
  3. Think first: it will be easier to take in the music if you analyze it before you try to play it.  Look at the music or listen to the tune so you have some idea of the patterns that are coming and you’re not totally surprised by each note!
  4. Don’t start from zero: practice the fundamentals so that when you get to the more advanced stuff you are not also working on the basics, just the new music.
  5. Get up: it is important to learn the rhythm and to help get that down you might have to get up and move to find it.
  6. Write it down: keep your journal up to date to capture your plans, your progress, your successes and insights you get along the way.
  7. Take it in small sections and build it up: music is serial – that is, all the notes don’t hit you at once!  Rather, they stream by over time (except for the chords!). If you have already done the analysis (see 3 above) you can learn the patterns as time flows.
  8. Use all you've got (hear, see, feel) – Learning is hard work – use everything you have to make it go better, faster, and learn more music!

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