View Full Version : Strange way to improve skills

11-18-2011, 03:03 PM
I've been playing uke for about 3 and a half years. For most of that time I practiced every day and I improved. Recently I seemed to hit a bit of a wall. I would work on improving my uke playing and I never seemed to improve, it was very frustrating. In fact, it was frustrating enough that I would leave my instrument alone for 2 to 4 days at a time.

That's when I noticed something strange. My skills are actually improving again.

Now I don't expect this to continue, but I am wondering if this is a normal part of instrumental skill improvement. Is it in fact a good idea to back off on occaison to let the skills you have been working on settle in for a little or is this a fluke?

Any info would be appreciated.

11-18-2011, 03:09 PM
Nah, I don't think it's a fluke. Lots of times I've walked away from a seemingly daunting task, only to return later and have everything fall into place just like it's supposed to!

11-18-2011, 03:25 PM
I haven't had this happen yet with uke playing, but I used to have train my horse like this all the time. We'd be at cross purposes, I'd end the session on a good note, and then try again the the next day, and boom, we nailed it and it would never be a problem again. It could be anything from completing a tightly formed circle, or a smooth flying lead change, or pivot, or what not. She could learn by osmosis, she was that awesome.

Come to think of it, maybe it was her that could do that and not so much me. :)

11-18-2011, 03:50 PM
Yea, it works for me too. Not a fluke.

11-18-2011, 03:51 PM
I found this true playing the banjo. I would work on something and actually start make the same mistakes over and over. I would back off for a bit and forgot the bad habits. Congrats on the discovery.

11-18-2011, 04:04 PM
I play a lot of pool. Same thing happens. Walk away for a week, and when i come back play much better.

I think when you practice too much, bad habits as well as good get ingrained. Taking a break seems to release the bad karma.

With the uke, I tend to switch between chord and finger picking to keep things changing and that seems to help

Ukulele JJ
11-18-2011, 04:54 PM
Yeah, it's the same with training your muscles--the workouts mainly serve to break down the muscle fibers. It's during the rest periods that they actually become stronger. You have to have the time off, otherwise the exercising doesn't do any good.

I've always figured that learning is the same way. The idea being that the bulk of the "processing" and neuron knitting is done when you're not practicing/studying/whatever. The time away is crucial, IMHO.


11-18-2011, 04:58 PM
Nah- no fluke at all. Read any of the brain research we teachers are subjected to and you will quickly find that while the "buzz words" always change, "review review review back off and BAM!" is the name of the game

mm stan
11-18-2011, 05:25 PM
That is a natural process of the learning curb....you slowly try new things by watching and researching and learn...small steps...keep at it...happy strummings

11-18-2011, 05:45 PM
Holding tension can increase mistakes and tension happens when you're tired, frustrated, or otherwise trying to force progress.

Also, progress is not linear. True, steady practice will result in improvement but the improvement sometimes comes slowly and dearly bought while at other times it comes in fits and starts that seem to defy sense.

If you find yourself making mistakes you can take a break or slow the tempo way down (use a metronome) and focus on correct movements. Sometimes practicing slowly concentrating on correct movements before bed is helpful 'cause the three pounds of jello in the skull processes this stuff while you're in la-la land.

:D :D

11-19-2011, 12:34 AM
This is nothing new, it happens with every cultivated skill. Peaks and valleys exist and so do plateaus. It is like riding a bicycle. You climb some hills, and can coast a bit on level ground, but sooner or later, the work starts again and you have to pedal a bit.