S5E6 "The Most Important Part …" on timing: don't teach analysis paralysis, Brad!

About 16 and a half minutes in, @bradbordessa, when describing the exercise of clapping along with a metronome, you say, “You need to know, am I slowing down, am I speeding up? And this might be subconscious. It might be something you learn over time….”

From my experience as one of your online students, I encourage you to place more emphasis on the partly subconscious (at least for some of us) nature of the process. In sports, it is sometimes said that analysis is paralysis, and this can certainly also apply to music. Not to be anti-intellectual, of course, but overthinking a problem can impair performance.

At one point last year, I went through a crisis of intimidation and discouragement because, at the moment of losing time with the metronome, I found it impossible to be consciously aware of which error I had made: speeding up or slowing down. For me, the moment-by-moment process of getting re-synchronized needs to happen—and does happen, fortunately—without that binary bit of conscious information. But this seemed to contradict your instructions, and so I had a serious crisis of self-confidence as a student.

I’m glad that, this time around, you mentioned in passing that the process may be partly subconscious, but I suspect that I’m not the only student who could benefit from more explicit “permission” to let it be so.

Fascinating feedback! I feel like I already pull pretty hard against the typical paralysis by analysis that I feel other instructors (and certainly students) introduce. If you had asked me this morning I would have said I was the “crunchy” uke instructor, but now I’m all confused!

I certainly can see how this statement I made could be interpreted as instruction to overthink. Definitely not what I intended to come across. Sorry if it triggered your bad experience!

I’m very used to most folks who I teach (lots of career professionals and “smart” people) overthinking everything. I go kicking and screaming to meet them somewhere in the middle and feel like even that compromise is a big achievement. A lot of times I try to throw them a bone and let them overthink certain things so they can feel in control of the situation. That way they aren’t as affronted when I yank them off the beaten path and make them play intuitively. This statement might have (subconsciously :rofl:) been one of those moments.

Have you noticed this tendency anywhere else in my work? Do you have anyone in mind who you feel strikes a better balance of this in their teaching?

Would love to hear more as this is very important to me and your insight is quite surprising.

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I’ve purchased half a dozen of your ebooks, and I don’t recall having any other such crisis of self-confidence from any of them. It was an unusual situation, not part of a pattern that I’ve seen in your work.

I have to admit I don’t know what you mean by “typical” analysis paralysis introduced by instructors. When I browse YouTube for ukulele instruction videos, it’s extremely rare for any of them to cause me that particular problem. But as I said, it was only that one time, with that one thing, that I had that problem with your instruction either. So please don’t feel insecure about your method of teaching.

Would I call your teaching style “crunchy”? If I understand properly what you mean by that word, I would rather say, to the contrary, that your style is fairly meticulous—as it should be, since good music is made by careful attention to detail. Most of the time, James Hill is another appropriately meticulous teacher, but he has you far out-crunchied in his podcast episode “Zen and the Art of Strumming”. “Strumming will never make sense until you stop trying to make sense of it,” says James. It was fun to pick up my ukulele and a pair of headphones and participate in that meditative learning-by-doing, but I’m glad that there are also more “cerebral” approaches to strumming such as yours.

Please let me know if you have any further questions. You didn’t mean to shake my self-confidence, and I don’t mean to shake yours.

Was my reply satisfactory, @bradbordessa?

Yes! I’ve been out of town. Thanks for the insight. I’ve been thinking about it.

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