I wanted to share today about a topic that comes up a LOT. I have frequently coming across musicians and music students who are frustrated with a lock of progress. Since I am a known for being the teacher that people go to when they are “hopeless” or are seeking something that they haven’t been able to find before, I want to share with you my secret weapon. Draw a straight line.
DRAW A STRAIGHT LINE
Here are a few examples of how to draw a straight line:
- A pop singer/songwriter who wants to be able to accompany himself on the piano. He comes to me frustrated after two years of classical piano lessons because he STILL can’t accompany himself.
- A jazz singer who desperately wants to learn to understand jazz theory and accompany herself on piano. She has been taking theory and improv classes at a college that take up all of her time just to get her to pass the class.
- A music theatre singer who has always wanted to learn how to belt, but the classical voice teacher she sees every week has been working on her head register.
In each of these cases, they were discouraged and feel like that their dreams are years away. I see this ALL the time. Instead of drawing a straight line to their goal, they were taking a ton of detours that might never get them where they want to go.
How many of us do this
How many of us want to move in a certain direction and then choose actions that are not in alignment with that goal? How many of us stick to the status quo even though it isn’t serving us? How many of us are feeling frustrated and bored because we aren’t getting the gratification of actually making progress?
As a teacher, it is vital for me to clearly identify the desired outcome of my students. I ask a lot of questions and continue to ask questions through the entire process. I feel it is my goal as a teacher to help my students reach their desired outcome as quickly as possible, even in an abridged version. I taught the singer-songwriter how to play diatonic triads in the key of C and he was singing and playing Let it Be by The Beatles in our first lesson. Now that’s a straight line!
Get clear on your straight line
For all of us, it is crucial for you to get clear on where you want to go. What are you goals? What are you trying to learn to do? If you want to learn to sing harmonies, or improvise on the piano, or play jazz piano, you need to only takes steps that will move you in that direction.
If you want to sing harmonies, you need to get a game plan together that will help you do that. Signing up for a theory class at the community college is the long approach. Singing a long with Simon and Garfunkel or taking a couple of voice lessons with a pop singing teacher would get you there quicker. Draw a straight line.
If you want to learn to play jazz piano, taking a few private lessons or an online course from a reputable jazz pianist is going to get you playing a heck of a lot faster than buying some jazz records and hoping to pick it up by ear. Draw a straight line.
This is not to say that there aren’t time for detours – yes, classical piano lessons might be a great choice for a pop singer-songwriter to build even more skills, but those are for later when you can actually play what you have been dreaming to play. Maybe going to a college program for jazz is a good fit for you, but make sure that by doing so you will get closer to your goal.
Start now by moving in a straight line towards your goal. What are the fewest possible steps that will get you there? By making strides in the right direction you will feel energized, motivated and inspired, which will fuel you on your journey.
How to do it!
NOW – write a line or two that clearly identify your immediate goal. What might be a straight line to get there? Post it below! Let’s brainstorm how you could move more directly towards accomplishing that goal!