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Memory and Learning Guitar - 322
This week's topic comes straight from players like you who struggle with remembering while learning guitar.
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Join me as I explore different memory hacks to make your practice time stick.
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Today I'm coming to you in the middle of my live event with a recurring topic from the chat, and that's memory and playing guitar. So stay tuned. Hello and welcome friends to this episode of the Play Guitar Podcast. I'm Lee, and this is the podcast that's determined to make you a better guitar player. No matter if you're just starting out or you've been playing for years, this is the show that will help you become the guitarist that you always wanted to be. And if you are new here, make sure you subscribe to the podcast and check out the description for all of the links from the show. Well I am in the middle of it. I am mid-event right now. I told you a little bit about the event last week. I always thought it was cool when you would watch, I don't know, like updates from the NAMM show or I like Star Wars. I watch Star Wars Celebration when they have it every year. And you get people who are at the event and it's a three or four day event and they will go live and tell you about how it's going on. I always thought it was cool to get updated on things because I wasn't able to go through those things. So I, you know, I'm doing a little bit of this. This isn't live. This is a podcast. It's not live, but I am in the middle of it right now. We just had two days of our event right now. On Monday we all got together and we talked about scales and my big breakthroughs throughout my journey with the guitar. What each of the big breakthroughs were. And in doing that it does two things. One for beginners or people who haven't been along the whole path yet, you get to see the way you're going. You know, you get to see everything in front of you. You know, okay, well, if I do follow this path, this has worked for other people. There's a good chance it's going to work for me too. And you know, that takes a lot of the guessing game out of it. It's one of the things I hated about guitar in the beginning was the guessing game. Am I wasting my time? Is all this work that I'm doing ever going to pay off to anything? So that's one thing. For advanced players, it's always, always important to take a look back at where you've been, to revisit things for a while. I, because I help people of all different levels of guitar in coaching and in the academy and just meeting people, in fact, events like this, I, when dealing with people who are asking me questions, ask me how did I do this and what's the best way to do that? I'm revisiting these things all the time. My playing's never been better. It's just getting better. And maybe it's not, I'm not working on playing fast right now, but that my melodies and my ideas and how solid my playing is, is a direct result from my students. So it's been very fun to go back over those things. And I present my breakthroughs in a way, throughout the training, in a way that, you know, you can see that. You can see where you've been and where you're going and what you can expect. So that was yesterday. Today, we just got finished with unlocking the fretboard. And I talked about my big breakthroughs as I went through unlocking the fretboard. It was really fun to go back through this and really a lot of it hadn't thought about in a while. And some of the very basic things were the biggest breakthroughs I had. And then also some things that you may not have thought about. And if you didn't know what the event is called, Unlocking the Thrills of Lead Guitar, and I'm basically filming a course, my next course. This is the precursor to Solas that Makes Sense. This is the getting your act together as a lead guitar player. And then Solas Makes Sense is the becoming an advanced guitar player. They're meant to go one after the other. So I'm filming the filming parts today, the parts where I'm speaking, I'm filming and I've let all of the community in on it. And so they've been in the chat, listening what I'm doing, keeping me straight, making sure I keep the presentations going and all those things and having fun. And, you know, it's fun to, when you're in the middle of this, look down in the chat and there's a bunch of jokes and everything like that. So it's been a lot of fun. But in the chat today, one thing I kept seeing over and over again is the struggle with memory. Memory was a big topic in the chat today. And so I've been thinking about the two. I'm always thinking about guitar and memory. Once, you know, you get past a certain point into intermediate, being able to bring all this stuff up to the plate that you've learned becomes bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger. So remembering these things and remembering how you played them. It's something that we're going to touch on today. So what I'm going to do today, not only I'm going to give you news about what's been going on, I'm going to give you the offer that I'm giving for everyone else. I have a bundle special offer coming out for everyone who went to the event. The first is Solos that makes sense, which I've dripped out three of the six modules, three more this week and the replays of our live event. Unlock the thrills of lead guitar. You can get them all for $57. That's almost half off of just one of the courses and you get the other one bundled in as well. These two courses are designed to go together. You get your act together in thrills and then you become advanced with lead guitar training in solos. This is active for only the next few days during the event and I'm making it available to the greater podcast audience during that time. Link to this is in the description. It's playguitarecademy.com/event-bundle. So let's talk a little bit about memory. Memory is a big deal for the guitar and I kept seeing it coming up. I asked what's your biggest problems with lead guitar yesterday. I asked what's your biggest problems with opening up the fretboard today. Memory keeps coming up with that. How can I remember all this stuff? How can I work at it? Well, I always talk about daily practice with small practice sessions and repeating yourself over and over and over again and not stressing about it. Just run through what you're trying to learn and if you don't get it quite perfect that day, don't worry about it.
Move on to the next day and do it again and keep working on these things. Try to correct it as you go. And then what I found is in my own practice when I switched to doing this, this was one of the big breakthroughs that I shared today was short term versus long term memory. When I switched to stop stressing about it and I started putting it into a daily routine,
all of a sudden it was if I downloaded all the information to my brain. I could just do these things that I had been working on all the time. There was a process that was going on in my brain that moved this information from a difficult place to an easy place. And so I always, always, always, and you've heard me say that, I've always talked about getting your practice schedule together. Make sure you're taking advantage of this gift that is in your brain of remembering things. But I'm always on the lookout to refine practicing and because people ask me all the time, what should I practice? For my coaching students, I set their practices ahead. What's a practice schedule that could be even more efficient than that? And so there's a few things that I've been looking at. I thought since this topic came up, I can share some of the links that I've been looking at today. The one thing I always think about is Michael Jordan, the basketball player. And the big thing that he stressed was fundamentals, learning the fundamentals. He worked on the fundamentals every day. Free throws, three point shots, all of the things that you would think a basketball player would have worked on since they were a kid. He was still working on every single day. And that daily practice is how he could make split second, even less than split second decisions to win a game. And I really thought that that was, it always stuck with me. This is something I heard years and years and years ago. And I looked it up. He has a lot of ideas of how to be a high performer in anything that you do, which are all interesting. This is the one that I'm bringing to you today. What we're talking about, fundamentals and playing them. Now this is already working in your life and you may not even know it. When we play guitar, when we play songs and you see like a band who's playing the same song that they've been playing for 40 years, right? When you're playing songs, what are you doing? You're working basic chords for popular music. Now if you're playing jazz and you're changing your chords up all the time and using extensions and finding new ways of doing that, that's an exploration in the moment. But for the majority of us and who I think probably listens to this podcast, we're pretty much playing the same chords that are on the record or the same chords that we play all of the time. Now do you have to think about those chords very much anymore? Think about it. Think about how stressed you are when you were first learning them and now and think about your favorite song that you play. Say you jam this song all the time and said, "Do you have to think about those chords anymore?" No. Those chords went into your long-term memory because you played them over and over and over again, day in and day out. Just for fun. Just because you enjoyed it. But whether you enjoyed it or not, that daily repetition, it told your brain something. We need to move these things there. There's something physical happening. You're actually physically playing these songs again and again and again. It's working. Then all of a sudden, there are your basics on autopilot. Now something interesting that Michael Jordan said that I read somewhere was though that you have to master the fundamentals, not just play them every day. You can get those into your memory by playing the fundamentals every day, but if you play the fundamentals incorrectly, I think he said something along the lines of you'd be a master of playing something and master of doing something wrong or something like that. You can see where that could lead. Spending a lot of time doing something, moving it to your long-term memory and having it not be the right thing. That was very interesting too. Making sure that what you're practicing and going back and revisiting the basics all the time, cleaning them up, checking out your chords. Do you have a chord that you play that could be better? Do you have this one chord that just sits in a place and it never comes out right? But you keep playing it that way anyway and you think, "Well, maybe one day I'll get past it." You're not going to get past it until you make the corrections and then put that into your playing. I thought those were very interesting. Those are the ones that I always think about. What I did was I went to my little stash of links here and I've pulled up some of the things that I think are very interesting that may help you when you determine on how you want to practice.
Maybe these might change some of the ways. Honestly, it may change some of the ways that I help people practice. This was VOA Learning English and this was a really cool article. It was all about practice. I guess this is for people who are learning languages and different ways of studying and different practice habits that you do. One of the things that they talked about was spaced practice.
Practice that's spaced out, spacing within sessions and then inside one session as well. They also talked about interleaving and blocked practicing too. I want to talk a little bit about all of these here. This might give you a little something to think about when you're trying to maybe remember some things or once you have something down to put it into a routine where it's there for you all the time. Spacing practice. When you practice once a week or twice a week or something like that, that may not be enough to get things into long term memory. Having your brain know a routine. I'm sitting down, this is my practice area, I'm seeing all the same things. This is my space where I can remember things. That's really important. That's going to come up later in today's podcast too. Being in a place where you know that this is a place where I usually am thinking about things that I need to have later on. Bring it in with those things, but spacing practice over a week, I already recommend that. That's important. That goes to long term memory. Then spacing what you're working on during one practice session. Interesting to me. Very interesting to me. Revisiting a topic in one practice session. I usually say, "Okay, we'll do this for this. Start with technique for five minutes and then work on stuff that sounds bad. The things you're working on and then at the end work on your repetition things that sound good." That's what I think is an efficient use of your time. This is very interesting too. Revisiting the same topic over and over in one practice section can make it solid for your long term memory. What they use to make an example of this is flashcards. When you're learning math, remember flashcards, you'd have a deck of flashcards and they would have multiplication or they might have subtraction. There's a whole bunch of different things that could be in that. Do you remember, you would know, say, a certain problem that they ask you about and then it would go back in the deck. It wouldn't come back up again until maybe five minutes later. Then there you are again having to figure out the same problem. Then it goes back in the deck. Maybe 10 minutes later it comes back up again. You start to know it after a while. After a while you know, "Oh, that one's coming back." Here they come. They're all coming back now. I forgot about that. I forgot about how what an effective tool flashcards were. I just thought it was, "Oh, you're just spending time learning these things," but that spaced practice where it's revisiting, it's coming back at a later time during your session right there, tells your brain something. It tells your brain, "Hey, this is important," right there. That's important because we're going to talk about how the brain works in a few minutes too. The other things they talked about were blocked practice versus interleaving. We already know that.
Interleaving is like guitar practice as well, having different methods of things that you work on in one session. Say we're doing technique exercises and then we're doing some songs and we're doing this. We have different things that we're doing. We may be working on the same skills, but we're doing it in different ways throughout a practice. That's a good way to remember them by two. Blocked practice is more like going to school. For this hour I've got English and then for this hour I've got those things. So it was a neat article, but the spacing during one practice is the reason I brought that up too. There is another page that I have been saving here that I wanted to bring up. This is from Harvard Health Publishing. It's the Mind and Mood section and it says, "Music can boost memory and mood."
One of the things that I found interesting from this is that studies have shown that music itself boosts memory. You say, "Well, how does that help me? I'm playing music. I can't remember any of this stuff." But I don't think it's talking about playing music. I think it's about listening to music. I know from a fact that I used to listen to a lot more music than I do now. Why? Because I'm playing guitar all day and I'm teaching guitar all day. And so I've kind of had music some days up to here. I need a little break from music there. But what this is saying is music as an add-on, music as something that you have going all the time, music that you listen to in between learning those things. That in itself helps memory, reasoning, speech, I'm reading here, emotions, and reward. And this is from two different studies, one in the United States and one in Japan. And it found that music doesn't just help us retrieve stored memories. It also helps us lay down new ones. So listening to music more is something that I'm going to be doing in my own life. I know that sometimes when I go to a coffee shop or I go to a convention center where I try to get away to work on some things. I always have some sort of soundtrack-type music that I'm listening to as I go. And I find that I work better with that. So this may be something that boosts my actual guitar practice as well, which I thought was really cool. The last page that I wanted to share about this is from NBC News. And I'll have the link to all of these in the show notes.
And this one is they're talking to Blake Richards, who's assistant professor of department of biological sciences and fellow, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. And then his colleague, which is Paul Franklin, PhD, which is the senior scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children and fellow at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. And they were, they mentioned something very interesting to me that, that hit me when it comes to learning guitar. They've looked at some different studies and they've investigated the physical changes in the brain that are associated with memory. And they talked about a few different things, but one of the things they talked about was why sometimes that process completes and sometimes it does not.
So they're trying to put their finger on why we can't remember something sometimes. Why we can for other things and for other things we don't, which is something I've always wondered too. And I'm sure you have. Like I can remember all sorts of stupid stuff, but stuff that's important, I just, it doesn't seem to make sense. And what the, here's the quote from them. They said, we found that there's a variety of mechanisms that the brain uses and actually invests energy in that undo and override those connections, which ultimately cause us to forget information. Richards says that's Blake Richard. So there is something going on in our brain that causes us to not be able to remember things. Hmm. Interesting to me. That's like ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. Okay. I always assumed that memory was just always fighting. There's all this information that it's all fighting to be remembered in. Some of it just doesn't, it just, it's too weak. It just goes away. You can't remember it there. And then we have these tricks where we can remember things that we decide. But what this is saying, and for what, I don't know what their study was, but what they found
that it's not a failure in our brain, it's an actual intentional process that goes on that something in our brain, uh, doesn't want us to get the whole picture on something. Hmm. Interesting. So if we could take that into consideration, at least that, Hey, I may be my worst enemy in memory, in the memory game. I may be subconsciously thinking that this just doesn't mean, it's just, it doesn't mean anything to you. Conflicting thoughts. We've all had those, right? This is important to me, but then I go and I do something else, you know, and ruin it. You know, I've got something that has to be done, but I'm watching TV for four hours. Right. So we are, we are definitely, um, uh, beings that have conflicting thoughts, right? And conflicting actions there. And that could be something that we might be able to put our finger on to really say, Hey, uh, I can't remember these things. How am I classifying this? Uh, it is, it's annoying now that I can't remember it, but when I'm actually learning these things, am I giving these the importance that, that they deserve another page that, uh, if I find it, I'll put a link to it there. But there was a study shown that you remember things better in certain places. When you see certain things, certain areas, memory places, memory locations, places where you do your best memory, or you have decided this is where I go to learn things. And this is where I will retain things. So being, taking your practice to those places there, or yeah, or just saying, Hey, this is worthy of me taking it to my memory place. Right. Maybe it's yours as in a, you do your best memory in a park somewhere or something like that when you're walking, right? Well, maybe you take your acoustic guitar with you or your, your electric with your spark with the batteries in it. Right. And take this thing you're struggling with to your place that you do your best. You have your, your memory place. Right. So, so very interesting to me. And I just basically wanted to talk about these things. I have been talking to students all day. I've been having fun with this and, and my brain is just alive with ideas. And the ideas that I came out with this were not what I was talking about today. I'm really thinking about practice and how I can start to recommend practicing and test it out on my own practice first to see if I can make it even more efficient and be able to take the time it takes. And then even the mental intention it takes to practice and remember things and get things to autopilot easier, especially the things that are stumbling. Okay.
So remember that I have opened up the bundle offer to all of the podcast audience. This is getting my advanced soloing course solos that makes sense, that deals with chord tone targeting, making sure that your melodies match the harmony when you want it to and not match the harmony when you don't want it to being able to be confident in that decision when you start to make your lines there. That one is going to be on sale for almost half price off. It's going to be $57 for that. And you get the event that we've been doing Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week. That's unlock the thrills of lead guitar. And this is the all rounder to get your lead guitar playing up to speed to get it right to the point where you're ready for something like solos that makes sense that get, that you can count on to take you into advanced lead guitar playing. I'm happy to bring both of those to you for $57 just as long as the event lasts. So you can click the link. It's playguitaracademy.com/event-bundle, but it's easier to just click it in the description on this podcast right there. And it'll take you right to the page and take advantage of it while we've got it, while we have it here. Okay. So I did, I had a whole outline too. I didn't use, isn't that the best? Those are my most fun podcasts. I just kind of went off what I'm thinking and sharing it with you there. But okay, I'm going to call it. That's a wrap. Thanks for joining me today for the Play Guitar Podcast. Make sure to hit the button below, subscribe to the show. And if you have benefited from this podcast, please leave a favorable Apple Podcasts iTunes review. It is the best way to make sure we get this content to more guitar players around the world. And if more help structure and results in your guitar playing sound good to you, what are you waiting for? The Play Guitar Academy is here, join, become a member of the Academy, or if you want one-on-one lessons I have coaching available as well. And we're building your online home base for guitar. Thanks again, and I will see you next week. Bye-bye.
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