• Anish Hindocha

Experiment #7 - I got my first real six string...

Updated: Feb 22, 2021


If I dedicate just 10 minutes every day to try and play Fast Car by Tracy Chapman I would make sufficient progress to play the tune by the end of 30 days.

I got my first real six string. In 2007. An acoustic. And I said to myself it would be worth it, even I only learnt how to play 2 riffs. One of those was Fast Car by Tracy Chapman. Keep reading to find out the other one.

13 years on, I had completely forgotten about Tracy Chapman, until last month when I was racking my brains on what to do for my next experiment. I also added a deliberate constraint. That I could only practice for 10 minutes per day.

Now as friends and family will attest to, I am no accomplished musician. I can't read music. And beyond strumming some simple chords, the truth is I can't really play. This isn't imposter syndrome kicking in, I'm genuinely a novice after 10 years. My guitar has actually been gathering dust for almost a year. But undaunted I thought I'd give this a go.

My format for recording reflections is to note down 5 observations that happened during the process. I have discovered through others that often these learnings can equally apply to different facets of life, work etc

Lesson 1 - Get the environment right before you begin.

Even if it's just 10 minutes you want to make those 10 minutes count. Preparation is everything.

Before I started I watched a video tutorial on you tube and I watched it and realised I needed something called a capo. In the original, she plays the tune with the capo on the 2nd fret. I found an old one in a drawer and clamped it on. I also committed to doing this at the same time each day in the same room. As I describe in my webinars on Habit Formation, the more decisions you can remove from the process, the easier the task becomes.

Lesson 2 - Progress over perfection.

There is a temptation to get every note spot on before moving on. But like other things in life you have to just trust the process. I knew if I did then my somewhat uncoordinated finger picking would come good eventually. Also I think feeling your way through it, is far better than perfecting each part.

I could have spent Day 2 going back over what I had learned on Day 1 but what would be the point. From a motivation point of view, evidence of progress is a bigger factor in staying disciplined than mastery.

Lesson 3 - Enjoy the process

Following on - with evidence of progress, comes greater commitment. You see results and the likelihood of giving up reduces and actually strengthens commitment. This is particularly important once you get over the "honeymoon phase" of starting any new habit. And if you have picked upon something that you find fun, then there is far less chance that even after 30 days you will view it as a chore. And besides as I mentioned earlier - everyone usually has 10 minutes.

Lesson 4 - Learn to read your next move

Chess players are famed for thinking several moves ahead.

Tennis Players are positioned for the return from their opponent.

A corporate trainer looks up from their material to 'read the room'.

And in order to do anything that appears to be executed on instinct, you need to have practiced. A lot.

One thing this experiment taught me was to anticipate the next move before it takes place. There's a part in the song where she slides down the guitar. For those that read music, I think it's at the start of the 2nd bar. In order to execute that properly, I discovered you need to have your fingers ready to make that move just before it happens. That's a timing thing, but it made me reflect on how for example, when someone is in the full flow of training, they are looking up to read the room (or these days, the zoom call) and paying attention to how learners are taking in the information. It's the difference between colour by numbers and mastering something.

Lesson 5 - Look for multiple learning inspirations

Around Day 15 or so, I had been diligently following a youtube tutorial on how to play the tune. By this stage, I started to get curious as to how others play it. So I sought out other tutorials. Watched her playing it live (by the way she plays it differently, capo on the 3rd, and slower than the recorded version) and looked at cover versions. The point I am making is that the magic of learning something well, lies in how to make it your own. By combining different sources of inspiration, I could play with different ideas, and develop a richer understanding. Think of a time when you learned a different skill, a language, a facilitation method, software. It's only when you experiment outside of the boundaries set by the tutor, do you get to really learn.

Did I prove the hypothesis for this experiment? Here it is again

If I dedicate just 10 minutes every day to try and play Fast Car by Tracy Chapman I would make sufficient progress to play the tune by the end of 30 days.

I'll let you decide. You can see the progress by watching this video here.

I really enjoyed the process of learning this riff. It's such a great tune also. I had the pleasure of seeing Tracy Chapman live at the Hammersmith Apollo in London in 2007. It was just her on stage with that velvet voice and an acoustic guitar for 2 hours. Magic.

PS - If you got this far, thanks for reading. That other acoustic riff I always wanted to play? - Redemption Song by Bob Marley.

Keep following me for Experiment 8. You can see all my previous experiments over at www.jigsawconsulting.co.uk/30dayexperiment

About the#30dayexperiment

#30dayexperiment is a project I created to better myself, stay disciplined, whilst I pursue a long term goal of creating a business that I am passionate about.

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