Today we are going to delve into three super important aspects of learning effectively. A member posted an interesting question inside The Singing Zone member’s forum, which inspired me to write him a long response to help him better. I also told him that I will post it on my blog here (he will remain anonymous) as it will help all readers.

It is in no way meant to make him look bad. Quite the contrary. Because it offers us insights into how we probably all think from time to time. If you recognize this within yourself, I am certain it can help you tremendously. And if so he has done you a service.

Here is the question he posted:

“I am new to your course, I am a low key voice but even then, most times voice runs into a squeaky voice when key tends to go higher. I tried all your exercises and still cannot yet master stability. I am also new to singing & also do not understand the pulse thing in your audios for rhythm training. Pls help. Thanks very much.”

So the beauty with The Singing Zone forum is that members pitch in and help out and give suggestions based on their experiences. Sometimes it’s actually more helpful to get suggestions from your peers than from me. But once in a while I butt in and offer my thoughts.

Now what is interesting is that when we are beginners (and we are all beginners at some point), we tend to have a very different mindset than when we become more advanced.

And we often have very faulty beliefs of what advanced people do and think.

I believe if we help beginners understand the mindset that the more advanced have, we also help them to move away from being beginners more quickly.

As this person becomes more knowledgeable about music he will learn that it is not the key that moves higher (unless the key changes), but the melody within the same key, and we are helping him to use the rhythm course.

But we won’t discuss that here, because those things are simply solved by learning about music and we can’t expect a beginner to know that yet. (With the music theory course and rhythm course inside of The Singing Zone, he soon will).

 What I instead am going to address here are the three very important “secrets” to effective learning that are hidden in the sentence “I tried all your exercises and still cannot yet master stability.”

Granted, English is not this person’s first language, and we are okay with that, but even so, there are some very common beliefs hidden here. Let's first start with the word "master". I hear this word used quite a lot, and what fascinates me is that it is mostly beginners who use that word. The reason for that is that people who are very accomplished at something become very accepting of the fact that they will never “master” anything.

Have you ever heard the old saying that "the more you learn, the more you realize there is to learn"? This is absolutely true. Personally, I never think of myself as having mastered anything in my life, even though I might feel I am fairly “good” at some things. More importantly, I love to learn, grow and improve, but I never seek to master anything. This is actually a very important mindset and not just a play on words.

The other part of the sentence is "I still cannot". This is also a mindset which is crucial to let go of. However great I am at something I will always be able to say "I still cannot". But it is meaningless to think that way as it doesn’t propel you forward. It will certainly make you miserable and hinder any progress though. In this case, the person feels this way only after the first lesson, which of course makes it even more destructive.

Part of being able to learn effectively is to develop awareness. And a crucial part of increased awareness is the ability to recognize progress – however small it may be, rather than what we “still” cannot do. (And it's more fun.) So I advise you to turn from "I still cannot" to recognizing progress. The better you become at recognizing progress, the faster you will learn. Remember though that progress is not always measurable. Awareness itself is progress. "Mistakes" and "failures" can be part of tremendous progress in the big picture.

And the third part of the sentence is "I tried". Well, you already know that "trying" something is not the road to success. However, it is a very common use of language. I hear it all the time. Someone has a voice problem or a health problem and feel exhausted because they have "tried everything". What's interesting is that when one probes a little deeper one finds that the person who has "tried" a lot, has in actuality "done" quite little.

So I'm not writing this to make anyone feel bad. Our member who wrote the question is congratulated and is to feel good about posting his concerns and seeking help. That way he can get feedback to help propel him forward.

So for you others reading this, here’s my advice:

1)Stop trying and start doing.
2)Focus on recognizing progress rather on what you still cannot do.
3)Seek to grow, learn, discover, and experience, rather than to “master” something.

Feel free to comment below.

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  • I loved your blog.
    Sometimes I think, that by taking a course which lists end results, we/I feel let down if they don’t manifest quickly and with minimal effort.
    What I am discovering are the subtle improvements in being to repeat some of the vocal exercises you illustrate. I agree with one of your students that your system works only if I work.
    Thanks for your continued inspiration.

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