Welcome Frustration In Your Practicing (The Growth Process)

May 31, 2022
Christopher Maloney, music educator and founder of Practice Warriors explains the Growth Process of learning music.

Are you frustrated when you are practicing?  Do you feel like you aren’t making progress?  Do you feel like your skills are actually getting worse? Do you feel like your learning process is just an uphill climb?

Good…because you may be EXACTLY where you need to be.  Not only that, you might actually be making MASSIVE PROGRESS in your playing!

Let me explain something called “The Growth Process”.   

The Growth Process is a concept of learning music made famous by legendary guitarist, music educator and founder of the world-renowned Musicians Institute, Howard Roberts.  The Growth Process has been taught to literally thousands of the world's top session and touring musicians over the past 50 years, and now you're going to know it too.  This is an important concept to understand and acknowledge to keep you motivated and disciplined during the inevitable times where you'll feel like you are really struggling.  It's exactly when you're struggling the MOST that you are actually making HUGE PROGRESS!!  The Growth Chart is a visual representation of this process.

First, you begin with Self Questioning, where you begin to become aware of your weaknesses and deficiencies.  This period lasts until you figure out the specific area or areas , what we're going to call “topics”,  to start working on. This may represent EXACTLY where you are right now. 

Next, you start practicing and working towards your goals.  In other words, you're making Progress. Because you're using multiple systemic energies during this process, this is the period of time where you feel like you aren't actually making any progress at all, and that you're going nowhere with your improvement.  In fact, because you're highly focused on what is unfamiliar to you, you may actually feel like you are getting WORSE.  However, once again, this period of time is actually when you're making the MOST progress in your playing.   This negative feeling about your abilities will continue for quite a while.  You must truly understand and appreciate the fact that, even though you feel like you are endlessly walking up a very steep hill, THIS is where your skills improve the most.

Finally, you'll have a period that feels like a natural state of rest, especially after the hard work during the “Progress” phase.  During this Rest/Plateau period, you'll feel really confident in your abilities. You'll also feel that you are making progress in your playing, because your playing ability has gotten better   Actually, the reverse is true.  The progress is always made during the uphill climb (“Progress”), not during the rest period.

So remember that you actually want to welcome frustration in your practicing, because you know, in those frustrating moments, that you're tackling things that are really challenging to you, but won't stay challenging for very long.

You'll then start the process all over when you start to, once again,  become aware of other challenges and begin another period of progress.  This Growth Process continues on and on as you continue to improve your playing.  For most people, it’s during the Progress stage that they quit, because they feel like they’ll never achieve the skill they’re working on.  But you know differently now, because you understand The Growth Process is the natural cycle of learning music (or anything, for that matter).  You know that the frustration and challenges will yield to knowledge, skill, competency, self-confidence and a playing ability you will be proud of.  

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