Friday, July 13, 2012

Predicting behaviour and how it affects guitar learning.


It turns out we are better at predicting the behaviour of other people than predicting our own behaviour. According to various experts when we see others we consider environmental influences but when we assess ourselves we don't take the circumstances into account as much. We like to believe that the influences of others does not affect us as much as it affects others. We like to believe that we are fully in control of our decisions. 

I know you better than you do
Emily Balcetis (Assistant Professor New York University) and David Dunning (Professor Cornell University) conducted a series of studies to show the difference between predicting our own behaviour and that of others. In short their was a significant difference between the two. This means that if predicting your own behaviour is less reliable than asking others for advice we should be seeking more advice. If for example I was to teach you guitar I am quite confident that I will be a better predictor of your future behaviour than you. Let me explain why.

"I want it now!"
I have spent 25 years working with thousands of guitar students. I have studied their behaviour and I have learned to recognise the predictable signs of students who are about to quit or who will likely want to quit at some point in the future. In fact it only takes one or two conversations for me to determine what kind of behaviour you are likely to display in the coming week. For example students who call up to inquire about lessons with one question 'Can I start today?' have about a 50% chance of quitting within a month or two. This is because they are impatient. The reason they wanted to start lessons today is because by later that same day that want to be a guitar master. When this doesn't happen they move on to something else.

Why my students rarely quit
The good news is that even the impatient can be saved if the teacher knows what to look for and how to respond. I rarely lose students in the critical first year and there are two reason for this. No.1 is I look for those early signs and address them immediately. In other words I never book in a student on the same day. I also ask the question "How long do you think it will take to learn guitar?" to set them straight before we even start. No.2 is I require students to keep a daily practice log. This is like a health chart and keeps aware of how consistent you are about your practice.

Test the theory for yourself
All in all when it comes to making a behavioural change in life you will always do better with a coach than without one. If you doubt this why not try it. Decide on two goals that will take at least 6 months to achieve (E.g. run a marathon and learn guitar) and do one with a coach and one with out and see what the result is after 6 months. 


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