Practice & memory
So, last night, after watching that video from samuraiguitarist about efficient practice, YouTube suggested another video from a Danish guitarist named Claus Levin. It was about learning scales faster. I watched it, and a second video from the same author showed up in the related videos, also about learning. I found it fascinating. It proposed a different learning/practice method from what I’ve seen before – basically asking us to practice in short bursts and then try to forget what we’ve practiced.
The idea is that when we practice, we’re taking information into short-term memory. By forgetting it and relearning it, we’re telling our brains that this is information that we have to relearn repeatedly. In order to better support having this now frequently-accessed information at hand, the brain then moves it from short-term to long-term memory, where we have it forever. Claus goes into more detail, starting with a human brain/computer cpu & memory analogy that makes much more sense a few mins in.
The other video is about practicing scales by taking the notes and learning them in a random order or pattern, instead of the usual method of running up and down scales from lowest note to highest, or vice versa. In a way, its similar to improvisation. Its goal is to leave us with usable knowledge of the notes and their locations and functions – essentially enabling fretboard freedom. Claus labels the standard method as learning sequential information. What he suggests, instead, is more akin to learning a scale pattern and then using it to create licks (or for us, basslines). Its more functional and musical.
Both of these videos are very interesting approaches to me, because I generally hear advice about 10,000 hours of practice and structured methodologies. Here they are:
On a related note to samuraiguitarist’s video – I created a practice log last night, after looking at the sample log/regimen from when he was studying music in college. Its just a table with columns for a date and different areas that I want to focus on. Mine has sight reading, ear training, scales and song/jam. I had “technique” in there as well, but removed it for now. I’m using it to log in time that I’ve spent practicing any of those areas, and notes about what was practiced. My hope is that it’ll help me better structure what I’m doing, and let me monitor progress. I’ll probably share it once I have a little more data in it. I might experiment with the format as well – possibly turning it into a spreadsheet so I can tally minutes spent on individual focuses. Its a Google doc for the moment.