How to trick yourself (and others) into practicing guitar.

CCF23092010_00000Taronga Zoo‘s (Sydney, Australia) magazine ‘Wild Life’ (WL)  featured an article about training seals to do tricks. Throughout history animal training was largely based around cruelty but most of today’s animal trainers  have learned to use positive reinforcement techniques. In WL the author says “Today’s training is based on operant conditioning where seals change their behaviours because off positive reinforcement”.  They use a variety of fish snacks as well as toys and even gelatine. They also incorporate the use of a whistle which creates an association that a fish snack is on the way. So how does this relate to you?  Comparing you to a seal may seem strange but the reality is you are not so different. The seals change their behaviour because it brings an immediate positive result. Everyone loves an immediate positive result. This is often termed as instant gratification but usually in a negative sense. The results of your life whether it be learning how to play guitar or getting fit or almost anything else comes about as a result of your behavior. Reinforce the right behaviors through positive reinforcement and just like the seals you will learn to associate the actions to the rewards. Can you train other people to do tricks?  You might ask what kind of manipulative person would want to train other people to do tricks. In the WL article they mention how a common question is ‘why do trainers want to train seals?’ Their answer is that it allows them to take care of the seals. For instance getting them to open their mouth allows them to keep their teeth clean and getting them to lie down and rollover allows them to inspect their body for any problems. They have even trained female seals to lie down for an ultrasound to monitor their pregnancy. This same idea is probably applied every day in your own life. Anyone who is parent is constantly training their child to behave in a certain way. By using positive reinforcement you can usually get your child to want to brush their teeth, eat their vegetables, go to bed on time and to do their homework. Cause and Effect. We are basically motivated toward pleasure and away from pain.  Think about what drives you to go to work even if its a job you hate? Either the pleasure of being paid or avoiding the pain of poverty. Credit card companies, airlines, department stores are all examples of organisations that use reward systems (point cards) to keep you motivated to buy their products. They know the power of rewards all too well. Frequent flyer reward system for guitar  How you ask? Firstly create a reward system based on your practice. The positive behaviour. Create a rewards catalogue for yourself that rewards you or your child for minutes spent practicing. E.g. 1 minute of practice equals 1 point. So for 1000 points you might get a choice of a movie ticket or an iTunes card. At 5000 points you might reward yourself with a concert ticket. 10,000 points and its time for that new guitar. Guitar practice becomes its own reward  The final destination is getting to the point where practice becomes its own reward. This is where you begin to really enjoy the the practice. From my experience it is connected to confidence. Lets use say learning to swim. If you can’t swim learning is hard word and a little scary but once you can swim at a reasonable level it becomes fun. So good luck and let me know how it works out. Hope that helps. David Hart – Program Director Become a G4 GUITAR FAN on FACEBOOK. Visit the G4GUITAR METHOD Website Ph:0405-274456


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