Refining the Process Part I: An introduction to applying 80/20 principles to music.

Even in this seemingly limitless world of high-speed information, learning any new subject on one’s own is incredibly daunting. Think of it like crossing the Atlantic without a map or compass. You’ll eventually bump into something important, but there will be a lot of aimless drifting before you get to where you actually want to go. In my own case, learning Cuban music and salsa was my version of this nebulous voyage. I eventually learned most of what I needed to know, but it took al long time and a lot trial an error.

Don’t get me wrong; I understand the value of consistent, patient learning wholeheartedly. However, I wanted to see if by refining my methods and learning from my past mistakes I could find a way to avoid some of this aggravation. The thing I realized that it wasn’t my work ethic and attitude that needed improvement, it was the actual process itself. The hardest part is often figuring out where to look and what to look for. We’ve all been there. The initial rush of excitement, the flow-state induced Google search and the inevitable crash due to overwhelming amounts of information to sift through. The end result is hours of time wasted with no real results to show for it.

The two 80/20 methods that inspired this idea have been Tim Ferriss’s DiSSS method, talked about in depth in his book The 4-Hour Chef, and the David Baker 12 Bebop Head exercise mentioned to me by Hal Galper during my sophomore year at SUNY Purchase. The next few blog entries will cover each of these methods in greater detail, along with recommended reading and links to other blogs on the subject as well as my own self-experiments in using these techniques to dramatically improve my own learning process. Stay tuned, enjoy the ride and see you on the next one!