Why Lacking Awareness of Your Progress Kills Motivation

When working to achieve your goals it is very common to think only of your goals as the mark of achievement. While there is some truth to this, if you only think in this manner, it will be very difficult for you to continue moving forward with your scratching. Particularly, if the goals you're working to attain are extremely challenging. The reality is there are many steps of achievement within each and every goal you will ever take on and it is vital to acknowledge and appreciate when you've accomplished them.

When you don't appreciate each moment of progress you experience, your mind tends to focus on only one thing. That thing is frustration and if that's all you're focused on, you will bury yourself in it. Staying motivated in a blanket of frustration is next to impossible. The natural result of this type of negative mindset when scratching is you'll start to believe you can't actually achieve your goal. The more you believe you can't do something, the more it will become true because your mind believes what you tell it. Once you fall that far into disbelief, it'll only be that much more frustrating to withstand the challenges of your goals and like most, you'll probably give up.

Open Your Eyes and See What's There

Admittedly, it isn't always easy to keep track of all your accomplishments, especially if they aren't blatantly obvious. However, it can be done much easier than you may realize. Imagine, you were on a weight loss program and you had a goal to lose 100 pounds. Obviously, losing 100 pounds is not an easy task and if you truly need to lose that much weight, it'll take awhile before you start visually noticing actual weight loss. If you didn't have a scale, you would probably assume within the first few weeks that all your efforts towards your goal are ineffective so why bother. Clearly, that is a foolish way to go about things though and using a tool as simple as a scale to keep track of your progress is extremely common and effective.

Use the Right Tool for the Job

In scratching, progress is more measurable in some areas than others. However, all of your progress can be kept track of with recording. For example, if your goal is to scratch at a very fast speed, you can record yourself scratching over a beat and incrementally increase the speed of that beat until you reach the speed you desire. All the while listening to your recordings to hear how close you are coming to scratching at the level you're aiming for.

When working on something like improvisation, it can be harder to measure in such a clear cut manner as speed, but definitely something that can be put under the microscope. Simply record your freestyle sessions on a regular basis and compare older recordings with current recordings, while thinking of all the areas of your improvisational abilities you wish to improve. The more you listen thoughtfully, the more you should be able to hear how you're advancing in those areas.

When Regression Occurs

Truthfully, not every recording you make will be packed full of progression. You may experience moments of making mistakes you thought you had gotten past already. While on the surface this may seem like a bad thing, it's actually good because now you're aware that some of your practicing methods may not be as effective as you previously thought. This affords you the opportunity to seek out better ways of working to achieve your goals and begin getting much better results. While you may not know what those methods are, there is someone out there that does. I have worked with people such as you and helped them to achieve their goals much faster than they would have otherwise with fully effective and efficient practice regimens. If you feel you're not getting big enough results from your efforts check out my Scratch DJ Lessons.

Take Pride in Yourself

While keeping track of your progress is important, it's only a means to an end. Ultimately, when becoming aware of all of your improvement, you need to take time to actually enjoy the fact that YES, you are definitely moving forward. When you do so you will be happier, have more fun, feel like everything is not as hard as it may have seemed previously and thus continually stay motivated to bust through the obstacles that stand between you and your goals!

Never Get It Wrong – The Power of Isolation

Have you ever tried to learn a simple phrase in a foreign language? Perhaps you were planning on visiting another country and you needed to learn it and most likely other phrases that were critical for communicating things to the locals. In most cases like this, we tend to learn just enough to get by.

Getting by might be acceptable for simple trips, but what if you planned to move there and really immerse yourself in the culture long term? If you really want to be accepted and build strong, high quality relationships with the people there, you'd probably take learning their language much more seriously. Let's take it even further and assume that you want to learn the language to the point where even locals can't tell simply by hearing you that you're not from the area. With a goal like that, there's really no room for error. You'd literally have to talk the talk on a consistent basis.

Of course this may all seem very daunting for someone who hasn't learned a lick of the language yet. However, if you were to focus on simply one word and repeat it incessantly until you get it absolutely picture perfect you'd be hard pressed to ever get it wrong again. If you truly want to master scratching your goal should NOT be to simply get by. It should be to express yourself in the most fluent way possible 100% of the time.

A Big Piece of the Puzzle

This method of isolation that I alluded to in the previous example is a big part of what it will take for you to overcome your challenges in scratching and ultimately perfect your scratch technique. I refer to this method as drilling and if it's not a part of your current practice routine it should be. If you are faced with a challenge in a specific technique, random freestyle scratching and occasionally throwing that technique into your soloing will likely make it take much longer if not impossible to ever get past the problems you're encountering. When you drill a specific technique in isolation you are effectively shutting out all distractions when scratching and allowing yourself the chance to really get to the bottom of what is holding you back from improving.

Taking Things to Further Extremes

In fact it is possible that you may only be struggling at one aspect of a technique. In this kind of situation, you will need to isolate things even further and just drill that one aspect of the technique that is preventing you from performing it correctly. Perhaps things are worse for you and you just aren't grasping the technique at all. The strategy of extreme isolation is still the best way to approach it. Only now there are multiple parts to the technique that need to be broken down into their own specific drills before you'll be ready to put it all back together again and drill the full technique without such severe isolation.

Different Drills for Different Needs

While the above drills work well for techniques you are suffering big problems with, they don't necessarily work for other issues such as phrasing. When phrasing you are stringing together a group of techniques to create something where all the techniques sound like they're really meant to go together. Individually you might seem to have no issue performing any of the techniques you want to use in the phrase, but things tend to fall apart once you begin combining scratch techniques.

There are many reasons why this may be so, like timing, rhythmic feel, and contrast in speed or pitch as well as many other possible challenges. A great way to approach such a problem would be to isolate your phrase to only two techniques at a time. Work hard to see what approach will be best to make the transition from one technique to the next to sound the smoothest. Then once you feel you've achieved something you're pleased with, add an additional technique to the phrase and drill that. Often times it's the transition between one scratch technique to the next that is most difficult so you will likely have to go back to extreme drilling. Only unlike extreme drilling with a single technique, in the context of a phrase you would be drilling the transition only.

Refinement

While drilling is mostly best for getting past major challenges it can also be used to refine scratching that you aren't necessarily struggling with, but are getting close to mastering. This goes back to just getting by vs. perfecting things. Drilling something that you can do well, but haven't mastered will lead you to mastery much quicker than you would otherwise.

Making the Most of Your Practice Time

Keep in mind that items that you are struggling with most deserve much more practice time and things that only need refinement deserve much less attention. If you put too much effort towards drilling practice items that only need refinement you stand to progress at a very slow rate. No one wants to intentionally slow their rate of progress down so be sure to avoid allocating improper amounts of time to what you practice. While it is not impossible to judge what deserves the most vs. the least attention during practice, it's not necessarily easy either. If you need help designing a practice schedule that fits your needs and the amount of time you have to practice throughout any given week, be sure to visit this link: Scratch DJ Training

Why Confusing Jamming with Practice is Detrimental

Practicing is the most important thing you will ever do as a turntablist. How you practice determines everything you will ever accomplish with scratching. If you practice regularly and effectively you can basically guarantee that you will achieve the results you desire and achieve them at a rate far quicker than someone who is practicing ineffectively. Unfortunately, many do not understand the importance of practice, much less what effective scratch practice entails.

To most, simply putting on a beat and jamming freely over it is what they consider practice. While this is not a complete waste of time, it is certainly not an effective use of practice time and quite frankly is not actual practice. Real practice consists of determining categories of specific items to work on and how much time must be spent on each item in your practice schedule based on your current strengths and weaknesses. If you are not doing this, you are doing yourself a huge disservice.

Avoiding Problems vs. Creating Them

Think back to any conversation where you misinterpreted what the other person was trying to communicate to you. In most cases, that misinterpretation probably led to a problematic outcome. Had you truly understood what they were trying to get across in the first place, you would've had a much better chance of preventing whatever problems resulted from misunderstanding them.

When you confuse jamming with practicing you're essentially doing the same thing. This can be much worse than misunderstanding a simple conversation. Afterall, if you never gain true knowledge of what effective practice actually consists of, you could potentially waste years and years of your life never really achieving many of your scratch goals.

The Flip Side

Keep in mind, there is still a time and place for jamming. In fact, you can have the opposite issue if you get too heavily involved in practicing. While practicing effectively should make up the bulk of your scratching, if you never give yourself time to freely jam over a beat, you're not really giving yourself a chance to flex all the scratching muscles you're developing during practice. Ultimately, scratching is all about expressing yourself and stirring up emotion in your listeners. Thus, it's very important to set aside some time for jamming regularly where you can leave all your concern for the problems you've been working on behind for a bit.

Common Jamming Pitfalls

If you're truly working to progress regularly with an effective scratch practice strategy, it will be tough at times to shut out the inner critic when you're strictly jamming. What I'm advocating is not to avoid critiquing yourself when jamming, but to not be overly critical. Give yourself the freedom to make mistakes when scratching. You can take quick mental notes as you encounter problems, but you don't want to start breaking into practice exercises to fix those issues in the middle of jamming or you'll break the flow of your expression. You can always attack those problems later during your actual practice time.

An even better way to not let your worries drag you down during a jam is to record yourself scratching in audio or video and critique your jam afterwards. This will give you a much better chance to enjoy jamming and also make it easier to determine what the actual issues you're facing are. Often times in the moment of jamming, it is much more difficult to figure out what is being executed correctly or not. With a recording you have the opportunity to hear yourself from an outside perspective, as well as the ability to continually review anything that stands out to you as something to be concerned with.

With True Clarity Comes Great Responsibility

Now that you have a much better picture of what jamming and practicing are, you owe it to yourself to start creating a much more effective practice strategy for yourself. Understandably, this isn't always easy to do. Depending on your experience, you may not really know yet what specific areas deserve your attention during practice. To help get you started, I highly recommend you check out this great resource of practice topics I have written about here: Effective Scratch DJ Practice Strategies

While the topics I've covered should be of great help to you, you'll likely have more indepth issues that are very specific to you as an individual in need of attention. If you feel this is the case, be sure to go to this page and contact me directly with your concerns: Scratch DJ Lessons

Why Blindly Practicing Will Lead You to Walls

Have you ever had the feeling of being eager to scratch, but when you finished you felt like you achieved very little? As exciting as scratching can be, if you're not consistently getting results from your sessions, you're likely to stop enjoying it so much. Too many sessions of thoughtless scratch practice will start to eat away at your self esteem. You would think the fact that you're regularly scratching should be enough, but it simply isn't.

Small Goals Lead to Big Achievements

Big goals are very important to have and downright vital should you wish to achieve anything truly fulfilling in life. However, you can't expect to reach such goals if you do not have smaller benchmarks to achieve along the way. You don't just come up with a massive goal for yourself then wake up the next day and it's achieved. Quite obviously, you have to work hard at scratching regularly to bring your dreams into reality.

So why is it that we tend to neglect the smaller things that make the big things possible? Is it because these smaller goals are too tiny to capture your imagination? Perhaps, but more likely it's simply because you just flat out didn't think of them before. Often times what's right under our noses is what needs our attention most.

Pointing Out the Obvious

When you go to the beach are you planning on having fun? Doesn't it seem silly to think of going to the beach without fun being involved? Well of course it does, but not having fun is exactly what will happen if you have no idea what you're going to do there. You just show up, sit down in the middle of the sand with no plans and do nothing. Pretty boring and ridiculous sounding right? You're probably wondering who in their right minds would do this, yet that's exactly what you're doing every time you scratch and you've neglected to make any plans of what to do while you practice.

Small Goals Overload

Once you become aware of how important it is to set smaller goals for each individual practice session, you're probably going to have the opposite problem. You started off blindly practicing with little to no purpose, but now you're burying yourself in problems with your scratching that you expect to overcome within each session. While it is good to work on multiple things when practicing, it doesn't mean that you need to drown yourself in goals.

Narrow it Down to One

It is often times better to focus on just one specific thing you want to achieve for each session. Doing so will keep your mind free of clutter and you'll be much more aware of how much progress you actually made on that particular goal by the end of the session. Also keep in mind that if you're practicing scratching daily and you have one daily goal per day that you're working towards, they all add up over time to tons of smaller goals. So in actuality, you're really working on many things all the time.

Alleviating the Pressure

You need to also understand that you don't have to achieve any of these smaller goals in just one session. Sure it would be great and also quite possible at times. However, it is not the end of the world should you fall short of any given goal. That is why tomorrow exists. It is not about getting to the finish line faster. It's about the continuous drive towards it.

If you run faster than anyone else and are about to win the race, but collapse just short of the end due to exhaustion, what good was all that hard work? Persistence in scratching is your biggest ally and persistence consists of regular, thoughtful, well paced action.

From Wandering Mind to Pinpoint Focus

Lack of focus is a very common problem that we all have faced before. It isn’t like we are intentionally sabotaging ourselves, but that doesn’t change the fact that losing focus can slow scratch progress down to a crawl if it isn’t dealt with properly. If you look at anyone who is truly great at scratching you can place a sure bet that they didn’t become excellent by accident. An extreme ability to deeply concentrate was developed to aid them on their journey.

Think about a pro baseball player with a high average of homeruns. If a great level of concentration didn’t exist within their mind it’s obvious they wouldn’t be so accomplished. Even hitting just one homerun in any circumstance against a masterful pitcher requires an amazing amount of focus. The odds are already stacked against you even if you have perfect focus, so you could imagine how greatly your ability would suffer without the concentration needed to take on the challenge.

It All Starts In Practice

If you are unable to focus effectively in a practice situation you shouldn’t really expect to possess intense focus anywhere else. So the question is how much concentration do you lack and when do you lack it? The best way to begin determining this is to watch for what kind of thoughts you are having while practicing a specific technique or scratch combo. If your thoughts are wandering to other scratches that have nothing to do with what you’re working on that’s a problem. If you’re having thoughts that have absolutely nothing to do with scratching that’s an even bigger problem. The more often your thoughts deviate the more you’ll have to actively work on improving your ability to remain focused on what you want at the specific time you choose to do so.

1st Level Distractions

When you start thinking of other scratches instead of the item you’ve chosen to work on you’re likely also doing those scratches. A lot of times this leads to doing stuff you’re already good at. While doing what is comfortable can be fun, it completely defeats the purpose of improving your scratching by working on something specific that you’re struggling with. Remember, the more time you spend working on your problem areas the quicker you’ll progress. So be sure to note when you are not practicing what you set out to do and get back on track immediately. Any good or bad habit is developed out of regularity so by always making sure to refocus your concentration back to what matters, the more naturally you’ll do so as time goes on.

2nd Level Distractions

Thoughts that have absolutely nothing to do with scratching are the most detrimental of all. The obvious reason being that if you are not even thinking about scratching, you’re likely letting all sorts of mistakes go by completely unnoticed, thus never even allowing yourself the chance to correct them. There are many reasons for this, but the most common one is boredom.

If you feel like drilling a scratch technique or pattern is a monotonous process for you, it’s important to remind yourself of why you’re practicing that particular item in the first place. When you focus too much on the process it’s all too easy to lose patience and become bored because the process is the hardest part. It’s the result that we all treasure and enjoy having under our belt and so that is what your mind should be concerned with most.

Emotional Intent

All that being said, let’s not confuse emotional intent with completely unrelated thinking. Meaning, if you want to express something that you’re practicing with a specific emotional feeling, you may want or need to think of something outside the realm of scratching. Some examples might include a rainy day or a fight scene in a movie. These types of thoughts when used correctly by tying them closely to the technique or combo in question can be very effective for self expression when scratching and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Meditative States

A masterful level of concentration is not unlike that of intensely focused meditation. The more you actively seek to obliterate wasteful thinking and replace it with fully on target thought, the quicker and more easily you will reach the goals that you’re most concerned with achieving. So stay alert, stay patient and keep your eye on the prize!