I got my driver’s license today!
[Imagines wild applause]
And now I understand why driving analogies are often used in describing learning models. Having just finished Geoff Colvin’s Talent Is Overrated, this model is fresh in my mind…
To learn any new skill, you have to practice. What and how you practice will determine how good you get at that new skill.
Practicing within your Comfort Zone won’t get you very far.
Practicing in the Panic Zone, where you’re trying to do things far beyond your current capabilities, won’t do you any better.
The sweet spot for learning is in between those two zones. The Learning Zone is where you’re pushing yourself just beyond what you already know. And you have to build on what you already know.
I read somewhere that the best way to improve is to practice what you almost know. This morning, it occurred to me that this “almost knowing” thing fits in well with the learning model above…
- Comfort Zone – Practicing what you know. It’s too easy and it doesn’t lead to much improvement.
- Panic Zone – Practicing what you don’t know. Too hard and unfamiliar. It won’t stick.
- Learning Zone – Practicing what you almost know. The way to make things stick. Starting from what you know, moving just an inch further.
The only way I could learn to drive was to build upon the skills I already possessed, by practicing within the Learning Zone.
When I look at my music practicing habits, I see that I’m rarely working in this zone. I’ll often work on stuff that’s too easy, or too difficult.
Time to figure out what I almost know, musically, and get practicing!
“…practice is about pushing ourselves just beyond what we can currently do”