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  • Writer's pictureJay EuDaly

The Mistake-Reboot Loop

Updated: Mar 17

One of the common deficiencies I see in guitar students is a lack of self-awareness.

One of the main indicators is that the student makes the same mistake multiple times in a row. Each time he makes the mistake he starts whatever he's doing over, proceeds to the same point, makes the same mistake, starts over, makes the same mistake, starts over etc.

At least he knows he's making a mistake - that's good! - but he never realizes he's making the same mistake every time. He just starts over - over and over. He reboots.

What's happening is he's programming the mistake.

This happens to people who are left-brain dominant. The left-brain is linear, sequential and cannot multi-task. It is unable to recognize patterns. Realizing that you're making the same mistake over and over is a function of pattern recognition.

I explain this in more detail in Analysis Paralysis. I said,

  • Because of the L-Brainer's linear default, he tries to keep track of all the data, one packet at a time, by rote - all the names, positions, voicings, etc. If the old data hasn't been clumped, sooner or later the cache is full; the new data causes a loading, please wait error-message - and the brain locks up/freezes. The L-Brainer then reboots - starts over - and the same thing happens, over and over.

Many times I've actually sat and watched a student doing this mistake-reboot-mistake-reboot loop for 5 minutes wondering if they would ever become aware of the fact that they're making the same mistake over and over. They hardly ever do, I have to point it out.

So one of my jobs is to inculcate an awareness in the student about their mistakes. The goal is for the student to catch himself making the same mistake the second time!

Another tell is when a student is playing something and they just stop and say something like, "Wow, man, I just had a brain-freeze!"

That indicates linear processing instead of parallel processing - i.e. pattern recognition.

Once you realize you've made the same mistake twice in a row, the next thing is to internalize/program the following default:

If you make a single mistake you're playing too fast!

That should be the first thing you think once you've made a mistake.

Many times the student realizes they've made the same mistake more than once - good; progress! - but then they don't change anything. They express frustration by saying something like,

"Dammit! I don't understand why I keep making that same mistake!"

What? You don't understand why? It's because you didn't change anything! You're doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result!

Here is the first thing to change; SLOW DOWN!

NOW is the time to employ analytical thought; analytical thought does not happen when you are playing fast.

The solution to most mistakes is changing something you're doing in order to create more economical movement.

Less movement = less potential for error.

Hand position? Fingering? What can you change to create more economy of movement?

Don't automatically go with what feels natural. You're already doing that and it's part of the problem. Doing what feels natural without thinking about it is what led to the mistake. No one is naturally economical, it's the result of training. So,

  1. Learn to immediately recognize the mistake-reboot-mistake-reboot loop and stop it by,

  2. Slowing down. Then,

  3. Analyze. Change something. Figure out the most economical way to do something, no matter how awkward it might feel at first, and through repetition train yourself to play it that way.

Economical movement is self-evident, it's empirical. How it feels - awkward or not - is irrelevant. You can change how it feels by repetition; but the economical-ness of it is provable logically.

Speed is largely the result of economy. Economy is the result of analysis and then repetition; training the hands to move in the most economical way. Most speed happens organically from that, but analysis and training is done slowly!

Go slow, analyze, think through to the solution and quit programming the mistake.

Stop the mistake-reboot loop!


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