The Eye of The Master

This is definitely true for me, and it may be true for many others: I have a hard time learning directly from a true master of something.

My father is an incredibly skilled drummer. He’s an incredible musician in general, but even among all his talents, the drums might be his most impressive. There isn’t a Gene Krupa solo he can’t duplicate, and he’s done more than a few that D.J. Fontana would have a hard time with. And at 7 years old, I tried to learn from him.

It was nearly impossible. There was simply too large a gap in the knowledge between us. I saw his skill as an impossible mountain. And he was so into his craft that whenever we’d play together, he’d go wildly off of the “basics” and into things that were amazing – and intimidating.

I would have been better off with either a very intermediate teacher, or no teacher at all.

I think when you’re first learning something, the best place to be is in an unsupervised sandbox. Someplace where you can’t do any real damage but you can mess around with the building blocks of whatever skill you want to learn. Someone being great at something doesn’t mean they’re a great teacher of that thing – so don’t make the mistake of seeking out “the best of the best” to learn from right away. Most of what they know is useless to you in the beginning anyway, and you don’t need experts to learn from.

And not for nothing, but people learn more when they’re in a good mental state, and many people are nervous as heck when they know they’re being scrutinized by an expert in what they’re trying to do. No one likes to feel judged, even if that’s not what’s really happening. You can (and should!) work on not feeling intimidated in those scenarios, but that’s a lifelong process and you shouldn’t let it get in the way of freely learning right now.

Learn like no one’s watching!

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