Seth Godin (whom I may or may not have mentioned before) is someone I consider to be a great role model and inspiration for me as a musician. Considering he is a business/marketing genius, you might consider that a little odd. What insight could he possible have to offer me, a musician?
The answer: A life-changing amount.
There are many reasons for this, but it is my hope you would check out his blog or one of his books and figure them for yourself. Today, there is a specific idea of his that has been on my mind.
He has a list of daily habits for artists, and one item is this: Learn something new without any apparent practical benefit.
This is a great idea! Obviously, we are privileged with access to a huge amount of information through the internet. So, it doesn’t take long to explore something we know nothing about. This is a convenient method for developing yourself as a well-rounded artist that can bring a variety of things into your work. However, a lot of what you gain through research and exploration on the internet is just factual knowledge, and is useful in a very specific way.
This became quite clear to me a couple months ago, because I decided to add some more lessons to my schedule. Not music lessons, but horseback riding lessons. These are two different things entirely, but there are some incredible connections I have made in regards to learning across the two disciplines. Since they both are designed to develop procedural knowledge (the understanding of how to perform a task) It is easy to bring some ideas from one into the other to facilitate the learning process.
In other words, I feel like I’m learning faster, getting less frustrated, and have more practice tools at my disposal. Not because the actual technique directly transfers, but the ideas behind them often do (in fact, I’ll probably post a couple of my favorites here soon). To some degree, the elements necessary for successful learning are the same across disciplines. The value of exploring an additional one or two disciplines is that the emphasis is different and the elements are presented in a different perspective.
The more angles you have to approach learning something, the better. It’s easy to think that there isn’t time for it amongst all our other responsibilities and music learning, but you don’t have to devote tons of time to it. And the time you do devote to it is worth it, especially if it is something that is pure fun.
If you are getting bored, experiencing burnout, or find yourself on a learning plateau, taking lessons in something else might be something to think about. It could be anything-dance, ice skating, etc. If you’ve ever wanted to try something, go ahead! There is a very good reason for you to do so.