Education is important

Tutorials are important. There is absolutely nothing wrong with gaining knowledge on subjects, and having someone explain the process you are trying to perform, be it in written form, or in a video, is extremely important and worthwhile. Lately though, I have found myself in a kind of loop. It’s almost like hitting the snooze button. Instead of ‘getting up’ and getting to work, I instead sat there consuming more more an more tutorials.

The all you can eat buffet

“I spend many an hour convinced...I am making progress. The problem is, I'm just not sure that's actually true.”
There is a plethora of tutorials out there now on almost every single subject you could ever imagine. Each one has its own emphasis, its own spin and is ready and waiting to educate you; no matter the hour of the day. As well as the technical information you’re looking for, you’ll often get a healthy dose of the author’s own take on the subject, as well as the promotion of products and a perhaps a little banter in the middle. None of these are bad inherently and I’m going to get to the point soon I promise.

But I’m learning right?

As someone who often has little time to make music, I spend many an hour convinced that as long as I am reading something about, watching a video on, or doing something tangentially related to making music, I am making progress. The problem is, I’m just not sure that’s actually true.

Sure, I learn a lot and expose myself to new techniques that I will undoubtedly need in the future, but do I need them right now? No. How often was the information that I read actually relevant to the task I was currently facing? Rarely. When I have 5 minutes free, is watching yet another video on using Ozone really the best way to spend those 5 minutes.

Not all learning is equal

“My time is precious and I need to stop fooling myself into thinking that all learning is equal.”
Internships are so successful because you are learning on the job. “Learning by doing” is a very well known phrase for good reason. When we put into practice the things that we are learning, it sticks far more than when we don’t. So while it doesn’t hurt me to learn or attempt to learn all of these other techniques, the fact that I’m not going to be actually using them for months means the time would almost certainly be better spent actually working on the music.

I’m not advocating stopping learning all together, but perhaps if I target the learning towards topics that are useful to me right now, and put them into practice there and then, I will see the impact of that learning immediately and create a positive feedback cycle.

My plan moving forward

From now on - if I have those 5 minutes spare, I’m going to use them to do something which benefits me right now. Even if that’s something as boring as playing scales on the Piano. I could try out some new chord progressions, or listen to a piece of music in the same style as the one I’m trying to compose in, as opposed to trying to learn something that is to far into the future, or something I have already learned, but repackaged in a slightly different way.

Reading/Watching 5 tutorials on the same subject is, for me at least, overkill. Though there may be some subtle nuanced differences in the videos and maybe one does have that little golden nugget of information that will change the way I record vocals for ever. The fact of the matter is, that the technical details I get from one of those videos will get me most of the way there. My time is precious and I need to stop fooling myself into thinking that all learning is equal.

I need to make progress, not pretend I’m making progress. If I’m stuck, I’ll absolutely ask a friend, watch a video, read a book/magazine, but pretending that just one more tutorial will make me magically better at something is probably a little shortsighted. I need to try it instead.