Talent hotbeds are places around the world that consistently pump out world class performers. These hotbeds aren’t located where you might expect. They aren’t found in prestigious universities, professional training camps, or with celebrity coaches. Rather they are found in a specific neighborhood in Brazil that has produced some of the world’s best soccer players. Or in a rundown tennis club in the middle of Russia that brought Maria Sharipova to the main stage. Or a vocal studio in Dallas that taught Jessica Simpson and Beyoncé.
In The Talent Code, Daniel Coyle visits these hotbeds to try to understand what makes them so successful at growing highly talented individuals. He finds three common patterns that result in an accelerated learning curve for their students.
Let’s explore these ideas so that you can leverage them in your guitar class.
While the saying ‘practice makes perfect’ is true, there is an important nuance that allows students to learn ten times faster than traditional students. Daniel refers to this as ‘Deep Practice’ and we call it ‘Deliberate Practice’, but it is the same thing. The key is to break skills down into their bite-sized pieces and master each one individually. At the tennis clinic in Russia, students practice with just a racket, and no balls, for the first week to hone mechanics.
We follow the same principle with Moosiko by breaking songs down into bite-sized pieces so students can master every step. This deep practice speeds up learning dramatically.
In The Talent Code, Daniel also investigates practice at a neurological level. What he finds is a correlation between highly skilled motor movements, such as playing a sport or an instrument, and the buildup of super fast neural pathways that we might think of as “muscle memory”. The brain actually creates these super-highways neural connections through a process called myelin wrapping. And repetition is what drives the brain to build more myelin.
As a performer, you’re always striving for rapid, automatic muscle movements. This is what separates highly skilled guitarists from beginners. As students learn new skills on the guitar, we want to build them into automatic muscle memory quickly. We do this through repetition. This is why Moosiko intentionally instructs repetition on every slide in order to serve that myelin wrapping process.
Restrict the Environment to Hone Skills
The neighborhood in Brazil that is a soccer talent hotbed is unique. Unlike other regions where teenagers grow up playing soccer, in this community, teenagers grow up playing a sport called futsal. Futsal is similar to soccer but with a few key differences:
- It is played with a smaller, heavier ball
- It is played on a much smaller field, and indoors
- The nets are smaller
- The game is much faster and more cramped
- Here is a cool video of futsal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBB8PDenGJM
Basically futsal is a harder, faster version of soccer. When teenagers from this neighborhood in Brazil, who’ve played futsal their entire life, move to soccer, they have an advantage against everyone else. To them, the field is roomier, the ball is easier to kick, and the goals are bigger. By training in a constricted environment, they’ve honed their skills even further.
How do we achieve the same results with guitar? Here are some fun tips to make the environment a bit more uncomfortable that will help hone skills.
- Start with a steel string acoustic guitar. This helps students “feel” the guitar/strings and builds finger and forearm strength. If they move to electric guitar later, which is easier to play, they’ll be faster and stronger on the fretboard.
- Practice difficult/odd guitar chords which will challenge your fingering and transitions.
- Here is an overview of 10 difficult chords to play: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUzzt7ZVf0g
- Practice playing in uncommon or odd time signatures such as 3/4, 6/8, or 7/8. These can be tough but they make a great exercise for the brain. After mastering these, playing in 4/4 will feel so easy. Here are some examples:
So there you have it. If you want to see accelerated learning from your class, focus on deliberate practice, repetition, and restricting the environment to hone skills. If you’d like to learn more about how Moosiko can help guide these principles, click here to schedule a 30-minute demo of our product.