Music learning myths are stubborn creatures. Their existence is the result of a peculiar mixture created from good intentions, scholastic approach and, well… pure sadism. There are ones that are quite useful, only not quite the way people believe them to be. And there are ones that are just plain silly, dated and useless. Let’s check out a couple of them.
Music learning myths
Transcription helps you to play and improvise better: It doesn’t. What it does is to strengthen the connection between musical notation (visual) and music (audio) itself. It means you will be able to follow music with the notation appearing in your mind at the same time. Or you will hear music in your mind while following musical notation. Both of these skills are important if you are a musician who’s required to write, read and sight read. They just don’t teach you anything that you shouldn’t be able to hear with your own ears anyway.
Metronome helps you to improve your sense of time: It’s another one of those stubborn music learning myths. In reality, once you turn off the metronome (or any rhythm generating aids), you’re on your own. Once the steady rhythm stops, you have to use your own internal sense of time again. While you can memorize certain rhythmic patterns, you can’t memorize their steadiness. So, playing to a metronome teaches you to play to a metronome (or any other steady rhythm). Comes handy when you’re in a band, but not when you play solo. For helping that, you might want to check breathing exercises and your anxiety levels, among other things.
Playing with heavy strings trains you to play guitar better overall: It’s one of those macho style music learning myths among guitarists. It is true that learning to play with heavy strings is useful if you play plain acoustic guitar and need the highest possible volume level. It also helps you to get a certain tone, both on acoustic and electric guitar. However, it doesn’t help you to get more fluidity and freedom in your playing, if you play other string gauges that have a significantly different feel and stiffness. For example, knowing the feel of heavy strings will result in playing out of tune and applying too much pressure when you encounter light strings – at least for a while. It’s the same reason why using training weights (doughnut) on your baseball bat doesn’t improve your accuracy and speed.
Music learning myths
Repeat the piece a million times during practice: One of the dumbest music learning myths, even if there are good intentions behind it. While repetition itself is not a bad thing when it comes to motor skills, repetition just for the sake of it will certainly not help your technique. What’s more important is to focus on the problematic parts, and play them slowly. As slow as it takes for you to be able to play through them without any mistakes. That’s when you will learn them properly.