Have you been feeling stuck on something challenging in music? A section of a piece, a specific technique, an overall plateau, or maybe practice goes fine but then everything falls apart in live performance.

Have you felt like you just don’t have enough time for learning your instrument and learning new music? Maybe you feel like you’re putting in the time and effort but just don’t seem to be getting much payoff in terms of results.

Have you been frustrated by struggling to memorise things, or finding the things you did work hard to memorise slip away over time?

Or maybe it feels like whatever you try, you’re just spinning in circles, or tripping yourself up, so that you never quite make solid progress towards your musical goals – like there’s something continually sabotaging you – and it might just be all in your head.

If you’ve felt one or more of these frustrations in your musical life you are certainly not alone. And believe it or not, there’s a single solution which can quickly eliminate all of these challenges.

It’s time to re-learn what it means to “learn music”. It’s time to discover the techniques of musical superlearning.

What does that mean, exactly? That’s what we’re talking about in this special episode with Christopher and Andrew from the Musical U team: what does “musical superlearning” look like in practice, and is it right for you?

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Transcript

Christopher: Hi, my name’s Christopher Sutton, I’m the founder and Director of Musical U, and welcome to Musicality Now. In recent episodes we’ve been sharing a Practice Q&A we did with “The Learning Coach” Gregg Goodhart, in response to a big survey we did on the challenges people face in learning music. And in part five we mentioned a new course called “Musical Superlearning” – which, if you’re watching this episode as it comes out, is available now at MusicalSuperlearning.com and there’s just a few days left to enroll.

Christopher: Here’s the thing. As you listened to the Practice Q&A you might well have wondered: What is Musical U doing talking about instrument practice, aren’t they all about “musicality” and those skills that aren’t? “how to play your instrument” and “how to play from notation”? And the answer is “yes”, that is still the core of our mission at Musical U.

Christopher: But of course, for the vast majority of musicians, playing an instrument is how they will express whatever skills of musicality they learn at Musical U – and playing from notation is always going to be a big part of their musical life. And it turns out that exactly the same issues of “talent” and people not coming anywhere near to their true potential as musicians, are at play in that world of instrument learning too.

Christopher: Meaning: almost every music learner is frustrated by their slow progress and thinks that the world’s top virtuosos and the people who seem to learn much faster than them have some innate gift or talent that lets them do it. But the reality is, just like the inner skills of musicality, there is nothing mysterious or mystical going on. When you look closely, as scientists have now done for 30-plus years, it turns out there are specific practical things that set the apparently-talented ones apart – and it’s all stuff that literally anyone can learn to do, and get the same rapid results from.

Christopher: So that’s why we’ve teamed up with Gregg to try to bring these powerful techniques of musical superlearning into the mainstream. I’m here today with Andrew Bishko from the MU team to share some insights and ideas from the new course we’ve developed, to help you see what this “superlearning” actually looks like in practice. Andrew’s kindly joining us first thing in the morning, I can see the sun’s just coming up with him, so we might have a bit of strange lighting if you’re watching the video version of this episode!

Christopher: Now if you’re among the couple of hundred people who’ve already registered for the course, then I’m excited to see you in there and this episode will be a bit of a sneak peek of what’s coming up for you. And if you haven’t yet decided to join us for this course I hope this conversation will shed some light on what this “musical superlearning” thing is – and whether or not you take the course, it should give you a clearer understanding of what you might be missing out on in your music learning, and why you’re not getting the results you deserve.

Christopher: Because as I’ve been saying in some of our emails to members and email subscribers this week: learning “how to learn” in music and shifting your practice into “high gear” is arguably the most important thing you could invest your time and money in. Because once you acquire these special practice skills, it accelerates and improves every other thing you choose to learn after that.

Christopher: Now this course is like our recent Ear Training For Beginners and Improv Immersion courses, where I was very involved in the planning and design – but then handed over pretty much entirely to the team to work with Gregg and create the course itself. Which means I’m as excited as anyone to dive into it next week. And rather than me sit here and talk in the abstract about musical superlearning, or share only my own personal experience with these techniques. I thought it would be cool to get Andrew in to share the inside scoop on what this course, and these techniques in general, involve. What superlearning actually looks like when applied to music.

Christopher: So Andrew, thank you so much for being with me for this episode and I’m looking forward to picking your brains on the specifics of what’s in this course. But I wonder before we dive in, if you could tell us just a little bit about A, your background as a musician and B, your experience with Gregg that sets the scene for the fact that you’ve been working with him to develop this course?

Andrew: Absolutely. I’ve been playing, I started taking piano lessons when I was five years old, which was a long time ago, and I played piano and then flute in band when I was growing up. And when I was growing up, especially with piano, music was always, I loved it and I was passionate about it, but it was always difficult and I never really seemed to get there, piano especially. But everything was … but I still, I just plugged away because I loved it. I stopped playing music for about six years and I got back into music as a street musician, so I was making it up as I went along. And then at a certain point I decided, I was in bands and things like that and I wanted to further my music education. And I went to the New England Conservatory of Music, which was a nice jump from being a street musician.

Andrew: So I would consider myself a fairly accomplished musician, but I always had the feeling like, “Gosh, I wish I could be like that person, or that great musician, and how did they get there?” And I practiced a lot, I practiced a lot, I practiced a lot, and where’s it all going? Why aren’t I really getting into these skills? So anyway, fast forward, I’ve been working at Musical U for about three years and I discovered working here, all kinds of skills that I knew existed, but even though I had a background in ear training, it wasn’t like this. And so I started acquiring new skills through working here and through teaching here, and opening my mind to new ways of learning music. But what really clinched it for me is when I met Gregg, we did some … sun’s coming up here. We did some work with him and some podcast episodes and I was totally fascinated by his episodes.

Andrew: And then I actually had the opportunity to work with him one on one. And it was amazing because I always thought of myself as being a good practicer, I knew how to practice and I knew how to do … I’ve been teaching for 30 years, I’ve been … And yet I was able to make more progress in just a few weeks and get to the core too of some of the things that were really holding me back. And it was really magical and it helped that Gregg and I were really simpatico with our philosophies and things like that. But he really got to the root of some things for me. And so I’ve been really pumped about this idea that we’re going to do a course with him. So, first of all, just to have a chance to hang out with him for a while is always cool, and then to move ahead and move forward. Because every time I’m learning about this, I’m always learning more about my own practicing and putting these things into play. So it’s been, for very selfish reasons, I’m really enjoying this opportunity to put this class together.

Christopher: Awesome. Well, I was particularly keen to share your experience with Gregg because I know it will be striking to a lot of people, the idea that someone might have been playing music their whole life, be proficient on several instruments, be teaching for several decades, and still work one on one with this guy and come away thinking, “Oh my gosh, I never knew how to practice.” Or, “Wow, I’m suddenly learning the vihuela so much faster than I was before.” And I think it’s important to make that clear from the outset, this is not stuff that’s just about helping the virtuosos get better, and it’s not just about teaching beginners how to practice. This is really a whole different world of how to teach, and how to learn, and how to practice music, which is fundamentally different I think, than the way almost everybody is doing it, right?

Andrew: Absolutely. One thing about my experience, and I’m glad you mentioned the vihuela, which is a Mexican guitar. I came at this from two different directions, one, doing some work on an instrument, the accordion, which I’ve been playing for a long time, 25 years or so. And then also doing some work on the vihuela, which is a completely new instrument and a new concept to me because I’ve never played guitar and I’d never played a stringed instrument really. So it was a totally new instrument. So coming at it from both directions as a beginner myself on an instrument and as someone who is breaking through plateaus of songs I’ve been working on for years. So that’s another thing that I, really grateful, it helps me so much as a teacher when I have students and I can help them on a beginner level because I know what it’s like to be a beginner.

Christopher: Yeah, and that’s one of the things I really wanted to unpack a little bit was, what does all of this mean? What does it actually look like when we’re saying Superlearning or we’re saying getting faster results than ever before? I think in a minute we can talk through each of the four major topics we’re covering in this course specifically. But I wonder if you could just give us a little glimpse of maybe what your practice looked like before Gregg and after Gregg, just as one little example of what we’re talking about here?

Andrew: Well, absolutely. One of the things is practicing the same thing over, and over, and over again, and then having it-

Christopher: That’s what you’re meant to do, right? You just keep at it until it suddenly works?

Andrew: Yeah. And wondering why it’s not getting better, “It should be easy because I know this, I know the notes, I know where my fingers are going. Why isn’t this getting better? Why isn’t this getting better? I haven’t practiced it enough, so I have to practice it more. I have to practice it a hundred times. I have to practice it this way or that way.” And, it’s not that I had not creative with my practicing, but still not, things were, they weren’t moving. Afterwards, first of all, having a lot more fun because I’m practicing something in so many different ways and from so many different angles and from angles I hadn’t thought of before.

Andrew: And also getting to the bottom of things, a lot of times I wondered why, I thought I knew everything about what I was practicing, I thought I knew it inside out, I’d played it so many times. But learning new things about it, for example, I was thinking that one thing I was working on, I thought it was my left hand technique that was the problem, and I was working, and working, and working on it. And then I just got into the deliberate practice and found out, no, there was one little glitch with my right hand that was affecting this whole passage. And this is something I’ve played over, and over, and over, and over again for how long? And figuring things out like that, that’s just some of the differences.

Christopher: Awesome. And let’s just dive straight in then, you mentioned deliberate practice, but that actually, even though in a sense it’s the biggie in terms of the research science on learning quickly, we’re actually beginning this course with a subset, or a sub-skill, of this overall idea of deliberate practice. So maybe you can talk a bit about what we’re putting in week one of this course and, whether someone takes the course or not, why this is an important thing to know about?

Andrew: Okay, well, the first week we’re talking about something called contextual interference. Okay, so come at this thing, and it sounds really technical, but … And I just want to just say one general thing before I get into it. A lot of the stuff that we’re doing in this course doesn’t make any sense to the way we’ve been doing things, and to what you think you should be doing to learn something. It’s just not the way we usually think of learning things. And so a lot of the stuff goes against what we think we should be.

Andrew: So for example, one of the elements of contextual interference is making things harder. Isn’t our whole goal to make things easier? All right. And another thing that we do when we do contextual interference, so when you do contextual interference, you do something to make things more difficult. You change the rhythm, or you change the way you’re standing, or you change the room that you’re in, or you do something that changes things and makes things more difficult. You change the dynamics, whatever. You do things that make it harder.

Andrew: And the other thing that’s really weird about it is you don’t want to get it perfect. So when you make this change, you stop before it really gets good. And it’s like, that makes no sense. But what’s happening is that the learning, what’s happening in your brain is that the optimum efficiency for your learning comes when you’re struggling. It comes when you’re working really hard.

Andrew: And that’s the deal with contextual interference and what we create with that, which is called desirable difficulty. Is that when we’ve created the struggle, our brain is learning really fast. And then when we’re not practicing, it goes to work trying to figure it all out and sort it all out. And there’s all this neuroscience stuff with myelin sheaths and things like that happening in our brains. But it’s really pretty cool and you come back the next day, it’s like, “Wow, I really did make some progress.”

Christopher: And we’ve been doing our best over the last year or more, I forget when we first interviewed Gregg. But we’ve been putting a fair bit of our weight behind trying to get this stuff mainstream because there’s no doubt in the research world it works. And everyone who tries it, it’s like, “It works.” But still most people don’t know about it.

Christopher: And so we’ve done these interviews with Gregg and we’ve done practical classes of his at Musical U for our members. And recently we had him on to do our practice Q&A where he shared some of these ideas and concepts about what was possible. But I know a lot of people having heard that, they’re not yet getting the benefit. So even the people who’ve heard that this is possible and maybe get the idea, “Oh, I make things a bit harder and then it will be easier.” I’m certain 99% of them are not then going away and doing it in their practice.

Christopher: And what I’d love to share is you and Gregg came up with a really clever way to adapt our normal learn, practice, apply framework at Musical U to help people actually not just spend a week hearing about contextual interference and getting the idea, but to actually get the benefits. So that by the end of the week they are really seeing the difference in their practice. So maybe you can share a bit about how you’ve structured that or what’s going on during that first week.

Andrew: We’ve been developing this learn, practice and apply methodology. And in fact when we showed Gregg, when we’re saying, “Okay Gregg, let’s get together and do this course. This is how we do it.” He says, “That’s great. That’s learning. That’s really sound learning stuff.” So, based on research that we didn’t do, but we figured it out somehow. And he says that this is a really good way to work on things.

Andrew: So another thing we’ve been doing is putting the learn, practice and apply together in modules. So you learn something, you get some information, then you do something to practice that information in a box where it’s like, okay, you’re going to do this exercise in a box and maybe it’s too easy. Maybe it’s too hard. Whatever. You’re learning about how this thing works.

Andrew: And then you go and you take it and you apply it to your own musical life. So for example, in this first lesson with a contextual interference, we’re going to start with learning about a certain method of creating contextual interference through changing the rhythms. We’re going to practice it with a piece of music that you’re working on. And then we’re going to take that and apply it in many different creative ways to this piece of music you’re working on and also give information about many, many other ways that you can come up with contextual interference.

Andrew: Now this is the thing that I think is really important there is that a lot of times people learn, they learn one thing to do, they learn one trick from their teachers or something like that. But after a while, when you learn the trick really good, it’s not as effective anymore because there’s no struggle.

Andrew: So we’re giving you tons of tricks and plus we’ll stimulate you to come up with your own tricks. Because part of the fun for me was once I learned these concepts, is coming up with my own ideas. I’m an improviser. So improvising my practice and improvising like, “Okay, I’m going to try this, I’m going to try this, I’m going to try this.” Where I like, “What if this? What if that?”

Andrew: Where it gets to be a really creative and enjoyable process and then you’re so busy playing around. And the next day you realize, “Hey I learned this thing. I learned this piece. It was supposed to be played originally even though I messed it up totally.” So that’s how we’re going to learn, practice and then apply with some more creativity to designing our practice sessions.

Christopher: And I think it’s been really interesting on both sides collaborating with Gregg on this because he has such extensive experience. And most of his teaching has been presentations or one on one with students, either in person or online.

Christopher: And so he has that kind of teacher-student relationship. And obviously we’re coming in and being like, “We’re going to make a course and people are just going to log on and do the course on the website.” And I remember saying to him in some of the early discussions, “We’ve got to take all this stuff you know how to do step-by-step, one-to-one with the students and structure in a way that every day they’re going to get some teaching from you that they’re going to be able to do.” And it’s structured in a way that it leads them through to getting these skills so you don’t have that kind of back and forth.

Christopher: And I think you guys did a really great job of leveraging that learn, practice, apply idea. So that from the student perspective it feels a lot like each day I show up and Gregg helps me take this next step into getting all of these magical benefits in my practice.

Christopher: And I just think it’s hard to know from the outside when you hear this idea like desirable difficulty or contextual interference, it’s really hard to know what should I do tomorrow? What should I do the next day? Okay, I’ve showed up for my practice session. I know I could do this thing that’s good. What do I actually do? And I love that you’ve turned it into something that is very step-by-step and process-oriented while also equipping people to go off into the wilderness afterwards in any number of ways they like.

Andrew: Well, I want to say this, a lot of people think that online teaching or doing something like this is kind of second best. And I teach live all the time, but what we’ve created is something I think that we’re not just doing something that’s a dumbed down version or second best version of something that you would be doing live.

Andrew: Because what happens here is that because you have these modules and you have all this information and you have it all step-by-step, you can come back to it as often as you like. A lot of times we have these experiences in our lessons. We have this in-and-out experience and it’s so wonderful and it’s so amazing. And then we go home and we’re practicing and it’s like, “What did he say? How did he say it there? What am I supposed to do here?”

Andrew: And here it’s like you don’t have to remember. It’s right there. We are going to increase your memory though. There’s a whole module on your musical memory. But you’re also going to be able to have this as a resource to come back to again and again and again.

Andrew: And of course, with our Musical U courses the other thing is community. Where you have the resources of the community and learning with other people and people talking back and forth. Where it becomes such a rich evergreen resource for you to use over and over and over again. And get down deeper level by level and by level.

Andrew: And for this first time through the course we’re doing live stuff too, live Q&A. And the recordings of that are all there. So there are so many advantages to doing it this way where it really helps it stick rather than having to go back to something to the teacher all the time and do everything live all the time. It really helps it stick to have it in this format.

Christopher: Absolutely. And I know we’ve been learning a lot from Gregg reciprocally. We were sharing some of the learn, practice, apply stuff and he was coming in and saying, “Well, if we really want students to learn during this week, we’re going to have to do the quizzes in this way. And we’re going to have to recommend they do it in this way.” And yeah, it’s really fascinating for us, because as you say, we don’t know the brain science research nearly to the extent he does. And yeah, it’s really cool.

Christopher: Anyway, moving on to the next thing because I think that gives people a good sense of contextual interference is about making things a bit harder on yourself because then it somehow magically makes things easier. And there’s subtlety to it. And there’s a whole process you go through to internalize these skills and make them a part of your practice.

Christopher: But in a nutshell, we’re handing you in week one the power tool. And if someone wants to go off and just learn and master one thing that would give them a taste of this super learning, I think contextual interference is probably it. That being said, in week two, we step back, right. And we go to the bigger picture of, where does this fit in in the world of learning overall? How do you know where to apply it and when and how? So maybe you could give us an idea of what’s going to happen in week two.

Andrew: Well, the title of the module is Deliberate Practice and maybe you’re familiar with that term. It’s certainly been bantered about quite a bit around our world and a lot of times we summarize it by you’re going to really focus on the stuff that’s hard, the stuff that’s difficult, really zero in on things. But what I found, working with Greg, is that I would do things. I would say, “I’m going to do it this way, I’m going to do it that way.” I might do things.

Andrew: But what was really missing for me is the critical step of really reflecting on what I was doing. Like, I play something and then why doesn’t this work? Why didn’t this happen? And not just leave it as, “Okay, well I have to practice this again. I have to play it again. I have to repeat it again.” No, there’s something going on there. There’s some little tweak.

Andrew: When we’re playing music and we’re using our voices or instruments, there are these incredible repertoire of fine motor movements that we develop in order to play an instrument. And it’s these little tiny tweaks, these little tiny position changes. “Oh, if I just move my hand this much or that much,” that can make all the difference in my ability to do something. And so when I really focused in… We get in this zone… We’re going to get. See, it all works together. It’s amazing, because now I’m talking about module four.

Andrew: But I’m coming back to this module, Deliberate Practice. When we get to this ability to focus in on these minute, minute details and some are like, “Aha, that’s what was happening. If I try this, what’s going to happen? If I shift this little thing?”

Andrew: And it’s amazing that rather than just driving through and pumping through it, where I can make a big difference with a very small change and a very small shift. And sometimes the small shift isn’t even in the body, what I’m doing with my body to create this sound, but it’s in my mind. It’s like, “Oh my gosh, I realized that part in the music… I have been terrified of that passage for years, and I have to get rid of the fear.” I put a bomb in there. It’s like, I have to… And Deliberate Practice exposes these things. It gets us into the details and then we really start to make the progress we want to make.

Christopher: And I’m going to just play the part of devil’s advocate, or maybe even say what might be on our listeners’ and viewers’ minds, which is, okay, sounds good. I get it. I should reflect more and be a bit more thoughtful about what I work on during practice. Why do you need a whole week of a training course about that? Like, what are you actually going to do in that week that makes this more than just that idea?

Andrew: Well, the things that were really different for me working with Gregg was first, having an organized way to look at my music. To look at my practice sessions. And it wasn’t like it was a regimented system. You do this, this, this, this. Although there were some exercises like that, but just the general principle of looking at my practicing in a much more systematic way made a huge difference. He had me doing spreadsheets and things like that. I don’t know what we’re going to get to in the course. But there was other things where just categorizing and thinking…

Andrew: So, the reflection, it’s not just “Think about what you’re doing,” but there’s an attitude and a step to take, and then to then plan and do my next thing, make the change that I want to make and see how that’s going to do, and then reflect on that. So, a lot about it was slowing down, slowing down the whole process. And there is definitely a method to that. Just like learning an instrument. You know, one of Greg’s thing is that practicing is in itself an art and a science. So, for example, you can learn an instrument and someone can say, “Okay, here’s a scale. Go home and practice it.” Right? And you don’t know how to practice it.

Andrew: But you might not even know how to play the scale. You’ll want them to say, “Hey, what’s the scale? What are the fingerings? What’s the system? Which notes are these? How do I finger this note? What do I do here?” You know? So you want more information on that. And the same thing is with deliberate practice. You know, some would say, “Yes, deliberate practice, and you’re going to reflect on it.” But there are steps to deliberate practice. And what was really cool is that we were able to take the steps that Gregg has for getting us to practice deliberately and put them in this learn, practice and apply format.

Andrew: So first we’re going to learn about what deliberate practice is. But of course that’s never enough, to just learn and get all the information. We’re going to put that deliberate practice to work on a piece of music that we’re working on, and we’re going to take these steps. We’re going to slow things down and really take these steps and get a feeling for the flow of how this all works. Because it really is, it’s kind of like a machine that you get into, and it’s a really good feeling. I’m doing this.

Andrew: This is what it feels like to me when I’m doing deliberate practice, and you’re learning these steps one after another. This one leads to this, this one’s to lead this, and this one leads to this, and of course it all leads to our success. And then of course we’ll take it into the apply, where we’re taking this cycle and widening its reach, and applying it to more of our musical experiences and our practice experiences.

Christopher: Yeah. I think if we were to compile taglines for this course, or the concept in general, that were uninspiring but accurate, one of them would definitely be “Musical Superlearning: it’s easier said than done”. I know. I love that you guys have found a way to make it easy done too.

Christopher: Yeah, I really don’t want to be teasing people here, but obviously we can’t cram all of that week’s content into this podcast conversation. The idea is just to really illustrate the fact that yes, these concepts are kind of catchy and inspiring, but there is then a process, and whether you take training with Gregg or you figure it out yourself, but from the research papers or you want to come and take the course with us, there is a way to turn that powerful idea into something that looks very concrete in your music practice.

Andrew: It’s also a very personal experience, just like playing music. You know, when we’re learning an instrument… I mean, one of the things we love about learning an instrument is, it’s just an intimate, very personal experience that we’re having, and very pleasurable and enjoyable.And practicing could be just like that. You know, the art of practicing and art of learning, where you’re really learning, “Oh, this is how I think, this is how I think here. This is what I’m doing here.” Where you’re learning about yourself in the process as well. And you’re learning things about goal setting and about achievement and things that really apply in all areas of life by doing this. And it is a great way of making oneself a more accomplished human being in a way, but being yourself. So, getting really big here, but that’s really how it does for me. That’s why I love music so much.

Christopher: Yeah, and I think again, we’re leaping forwards a bit, because some of that plays definitely into Mindset in week four. But before we go to that, let’s just talk a little bit about memory, because it was very clear from the practice survey we did recently that memorization is a big challenge for people, and a lot of people feel like they have a bad memory, or if they’re a bit older, they feel like they’re getting more forgetful. And obviously that’s really frustrating if you’re trying to memorize repertoire to get it off-book, or if you’re learning scale fingerings for the first time and you just can’t remember and you have to keep going back to your reference. Memorizing is a big part of learning music whether you like it or not. I love that you’ve dedicated a whole week of this course to showing people there is a very different way to approach memorizing things that works a lot better. Maybe you could talk a bit about what comes up in week three in that module.

Andrew: I think I could best describe my experience with memorizing, teaching memorizing, and what we’re going to be doing in this class is that let’s say you are going to drive from one place to another. It’s at night. You’re going on one road and really all you see is these signs and those little flashing white and yellow lines on the road. You get to the place, but that’s all you’re seeing. That’s the way a lot times us approach memorizing. We’re memorizing, we’re trying to memorize those white lines going down the middle of the road, but when you drive there during the day and you’re observing there’s a sign over there, there’s this shop over here, there’s this tree over here, I really like this tree, wow, there’s a cow, there’s a deer. I mean, that’s how it is where we live. There’s things that you’re seeing, there’s all this stimulus from the entire landscape that help you memorize that route, understand that route, and enjoy it so much better.

Andrew: You’re knowing so many things about the context, so a lot of us just approach memorization with a very narrow viewpoint of what the experience is. When we experience the music more fully, which of course is what we all want anyway, when we experience the music more fully, from more different angles, and from more different ways, we are experiencing this whole landscape, and we’re memorizing things better. How that works, we’re building a lot more infrastructure in our brains to hold this memory of this thing, we’re building all kinds of neural pathways to support that learning rather than being just one skinny little neuron, there’s this whole web of brain that’s involved, so to me, that’s how I summarize the whole memorization thing and why this approach, which is first of all much more fun, and second of all much more … it’s much more useful, practical, and it works a lot fast, and it’s more musical. You really get the idea of the music, the feeling for the music, and your motions get involved, it’s just a much more fulfilling and easy way into memorizing. Not that it’s not a lot of work because you’re looking around at all these things, but it’s a lot … it’s really fun.

Christopher: That’s a much more enjoyable and inspiring answer than I was expecting you to give because it’s all of this cool nitty gritty stuff in that module about spaced repetition and first retrieval factors. That is this cool tool I can apply to get this result. As you’ve illustrated there, these aren’t four topics that we just randomly picked from the scientific literature. These are four topics that are fundamentally interlinked and intertwined, you and Gregg have done a really fantastic job of building up this course in a way that by the time you get to week three on memory, you’ve actually started to explore some of these techniques already through the first two weeks, it all snowballs, and gathers momentum as you go. I think the way you talked about it just there, people get an idea of if I’m practicing in this different, more exploratory, more aware way, of course that would help me memorize because I’m not just trying to internalize random data from a piece of paper, it has a lot more meaning to it.

Andrew: that’s so true and we were really sneaky like that. What happens is that everything in the course is intertwined, so we put little things all over the course that weave it together just the way our brains work. That’s the cool thing about working with Gregg because he knows this stuff and we could structure the whole course like one big brain in this topic. It reflects what’s really going on in there rather than trying to take something that’s external to our biology and cram it onto it where it’s how we work.

Christopher: Yes. In week four, it’s the topic that probably most people are least excited about. When we’re writing things in emails and on the product page about week four, I’m very conscious that people fully don’t realize it will be valuable to them as much as the others where there’s a very clear tangible payoff. In my mind, it’s my favorite because it’s the one that makes all of the rest work and particularly work in the longterm because without it, you’re so prone to self sabotage or losing momentum, or all of this mental junk and psychological stuff that can go on. In week four, we’re spending a whole week talking about mindset and I wonder if you can give people a little taste of why that’s worth spending a week on and what they’re putting in that week.

Andrew: Well, mindset is really … it’s what you wind up working on anyway this whole time. What’s happening is that we’re working on our mindset, we’re making these shifts as we do these practices. Then week four, we start to really understand, what is this big shift that we’re making? How are we moving from a mindset where we’re critical of ourselves, where we’re putting ourselves down, where we’re frustrated, where we’re angry, where we’re disappointed, and it’s like here we have all this frustration and disappointment on one side, over here we have this incredible love that we have for music on the other side. How do we do that? How do we go from here to there and make that love that we have for music not just something that we’re longing for and reaching for, but something that we’re feeling and able to feel as we’re doing it in the process?

Andrew: We learn to love the process of learning and love this whole process, to enjoy it because it’s working for us, because we’re doing it in the way that is really meant for us to do it. When make that shift in our mindset, it’s so helpful not that all the criticism goes away instantly, but you recognize it. You can go, oh, I don’t want that. I want this. You can make a choice. You have a choice to choose to do what you love with a loving attitude towards what you’re doing and then to really learn because you have the tools to make this work, you have the hardware, you have everything that you need to really make it happen. You feel that sense of accomplishment, the sense of growth, and the sense of I can do this, I’m in power.

Christopher: Fantastic. Honestly, I had jotted down a few more things that I wanted to ask you, but I think just like the course itself, that’s actually a beautiful end to this conversation, so I’m going to wrap things up there and end on that note because, what is more important than bringing that joy and love of music into the process of becoming a musician? I hope that’s given everyone a good taste of what musical superlearning looks like in practice. Again, I’ll underscore, this is not about come take our course. You’re very welcome to, we’d love if you do, but I hope you’ve been able to listen with the appreciation that everything we’re talking about is fundamental, general, you can go off, and study up by yourself if you want to, you can figure out how to do some kind of learn, practice, apply.

Christopher: I would really encourage you to explore all four of these topics because as we’ve talked about, they work really well together. If you only do one of them, if you’re like “contextual interference, that’s all I need”, you’re going to be missing out. If you would like to know more about the course, please head to musicalsuperlearning.com. That’s where you’ll find full information. Again, at the moment if you’re watching this when it airs, there’s just a couple of day left to get a spot on this first group of students. We’ll be closing enrollment on Monday evening, so do act fact if you’re intrigued and want to know more. We’ll also have that link in the show notes for this episode, musicallynow.com. Huge thank you to Andrew for joining us for this episode.

Christopher: I personally am so psyched to dive into the course because I love what you and Gregg have put together. It’s time I brushed up on some of this stuff myself, so I’m going to be right in there with the first group of students accelerating my own music learning. You can probably tell from my voice, I couldn’t be more excited about that. If you are joining us for the course, I look forward to seeing you in there, and if you are not, then best of luck. That was rubbish, let’s do that again. We will see you on the next episode of Musicality Now, or if you’re joining us for Musical Superlearning, I will see you in there. Cheers.

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