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Four Stages of Learning…

It’s a universal truth, that a person’s response to new experience is greatly influenced by their social, ethnic, religious, and political identity. And then we add to that our belief systems, and the influences of our environment.

If that rings true for you then it follows that:

  1. You have to want to learn “whatever it is” that is before you.
  2. You must see “whatever it is” as meaningful and worth spending your time, energy and monies on it.
  3. The learning needs to be self-motivated and focused.

Learning falls into four general stages. Let’s use learning a new piece of classical music or a complete operatic role as a metaphor.

The first stage is called unconscious incompetence – Not only do you not know what to do, or where to start the process, you have no experience of it either. This is the ignorant bliss stage. For example: Not thinking of vocal technique, some younger singers learn a piece of music solely by imitating their favorite artist singing their favorite aria, song, piece of music.

The second stage is conscious incompetence – You start to do it and soon find out the problems. At this point it takes all your conscious attention to be able to apply your vocal technique as you put the music into your voice. Although this stage is uncomfortable, it is also the stage when you are learning the most. You might become discouraged, so it’s important to chunk it all down into manageable bites.

The third stage is conscious competence – you can do it, but it still takes your full conscious attention and concentration to accomplish it.

The fourth stage is unconscious competence – the skill becomes a smooth series of habits and your conscious mind is free to focus on storytelling, interacting with others and the nuances of the words, while being present for your audience.

Most of our thought processes are unconscious, we only become aware of them when we experience the results. So, take these smaller chunks of current new information and connect it with your past experiences so they can work together. You can then be truly responsible for owning the story you are telling through the sound of your voice because all the elements are working in tandem and are now habitual.

Breaking down how someone does something is the “secret to making it transferable”. So, it takes the combination of your skills, talent, practicing mindfully and being present combined, to be the very best at how you do what you do. And remember, practice makes permanent. Avanti.

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