1. Teacher Life

Playing Slow to Become Better

I have been trying to play guitar more as of late, and I was watching a video on playing guitar by Paul Davids

I love listening to his content, and you will see people refer to him as the “Bob Ross of guitar,” and I get the comparison. I often listen to his video to relax and aspire to get better.

I was reading the comments in a YouTube video (sometimes it isn’t horrible!), and one comment stuck out to me, although I can’t seem to find it.  Paraphrased, it went something like this:

The best advice I have ever received on playing guitar is to have the patience to play slow and do it right, as opposed to playing poorly, faster. With this approach, you will quickly get better at doing the wrong things.

This reminded me a lot of the Karen Lamb quote:

Becoming really good at something not only takes time but dedication to the process.

I thought a lot about this quote and how true it is for playing guitar if you want to get better at the art.  Yet, I often hear the opposite message in learning and innovation in the focus on “failing fast.”   The emphasis on being “first” or coming up with the newest idea, is often celebrated, but to become exceptionally good at something, time and patience are essential to growth.  This doesn’t mean that “new” or being “fast” can’t be good; it is a reminder that those qualities alone do not make something of value.  I am focusing more on the patience of playing slow to get better long term.

It is also a reminder that “easy” does not equal “good.”  I have written about this before and how technology has become much easier to use over the years, but it doesn’t mean we have created more depth in learning:

Technology may give the glitz and glamor, but the focus should always be the learning.  In many cases, I have been guilty of pursuing the “easy app” that would appeal to my students when I should have been focused on learning and long term goals for learning.

Technology will continue to become easier, but that doesn’t mean the learning will always be deeper with its use without a teacher or learner’s thoughtful intervention.  Technology has removed many barriers, but thinking should not be one of them.  We can do many things now with technology that we couldn’t do before which is why I am such an advocate of meaningful use of technology in learning. It is essential that we are aware our focus is always on the depth of learning, not only on the cosmetics of the process.

To truly get better at learning, in or out of school, it is not about speed, but depth.  If we are willing to commit to this process, it might not look glitzy, but long term, it will be so much better.

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