The Discouraging Side of Progression

Progression is something that we all thrive off of and enjoy. It's often seen as a very positive thing as it should be, but there is a negative side to progression that is quite common. There are ways to cope well with the negativity that comes along with progression, but before we discuss that we need to understand how progression works. What you must realize is that progression in scratching tends to happen in incremental steps. It often takes many twists and turns before something comes out just right, so when a moment of clarity hits you and it all comes together that is actually the result of many smaller steps of progression that lead to that experience.

It really boils down to replacing inaccuracies with correct technique. Often times there are multiple things that are going wrong within any given thing you're working on. Not only do you have to correct these things, but you need to further correct the so called correct way of doing things as you're likely to still be somewhat off from what is truly accurate. This means that you'll be spending much more time doing things incorrectly than otherwise. This leads to developing bad habits that you'll be working regularly to break and replace with good habits (accurate technique).

Negativity Minimized

Unfortunately this is where progression is mixed with regression which is the unfortunate side of progression. It's very similar to the expression, "Old habits die hard." Considering all of this, it's even more devastating to realize that we're mostly unconscious of letting our old habits get the best of us despite learning good habits to replace them with. When this happens it's typical to get upset and feel like all your hard work wasn't worth it. It's only natural to feel puzzled about not being able to do something that we just did moments before.

No Miracle

While there is no miracle cure for this issue there are things that can be done. One of the most important things you can do is always be prepared to write about your major moments of progress as they happen. Yes that's right. Actually stop what you're doing and write down exactly what took place. While it would seem better to keep attempting to do the same thing over and over again after it happened, it can cause too many distractions as your old habits can creep in, adding confusion to what actually worked in the first place. Writing things out brings clarity in your scratching that otherwise wouldn't be there and gives you something to focus on so you can be much more aware of what to do and what not to do.

The Big Picture Gets Even Bigger

The beauty of this strategy beyond making it easier to cope with regression is it actually helps to speed up your overall progression. This is because, once accustomed to this approach, you will be spending far less time getting stuck on bad habits that sabotage your progress and far more time on what does work. This is even truer over longer periods of time. Think of it like a high interest savings account where large deposits are made regularly instead of withdrawals, allowing the interest to yield much higher amounts of money for you as years go by.

A Time and a Place

Sometimes progression will hit you at times where stopping to write about it won't be ideal or even appropriate. Such situations would be jam sessions or live performances. Make sure to fully realize the difference between scratch practice and performance. Understand that what I have laid out for you in this article is a practice strategy. Jamming is a time to let all your hard work shine for you and express yourself to the best of your abilities without having to worry about further improvement. Don't worry if anything passes you by during those times. As long as you are on top of things during practice you'll get more than enough progression out of yourself.

Reflection

You can always reflect afterwards about your performance and what allowed you to excel. I strongly recommend recording your scratch jams whenever possible. You may not always be able to recall what you'd like to since there can be so much to think about during a performance situation. Watching and listening back to what you did can be an excellent way to jog your memory as well as capture the joy of your performance.

Scratching Away From the Turntable – Mental Scratch Strategy

Improvisation is a very important part of scratching. Although there are methods for writing scratch solos such as TTM, scratching has a rich history of being primarily improvisation driven (more commonly known amongst turntablists as freestyling). A typical approach to improvisation is to take what you already know how to do and create solos on the spot with your current skill set. While there is nothing wrong with this approach, what happens if you run into a physical limitation because the idea you want to use is beyond your current ability? Typically we might work around such a problem by either avoiding it completely or by working on that idea later in isolation.

If you choose to avoid the idea you are intentionally hampering your creativity and will eventually hit a brick wall should you make avoiding such challenges habitual. If you choose to work on it in isolation you will likely have an easier time integrating it into your improvisation as time goes on. However, if the idea is too challenging, it may take quite awhile before you’ll be able to successfully integrate it and even worse, you may fall back on avoiding it out of frustration.

Good improvisation is like any other skill and will take time and patience to develop. That being said, there is a way to speed up the process and significantly increase your scratching creativity. Imagine you have no physical limitations and can perform any idea that comes to mind. With such ability, your creativity could really soar!

Believe It Or Not, This Is Something You Can Do Right Now!

Let’s take a few steps back and picture that we are an abstract artist and we want to create a very expressive painting. Before we even set foot near a canvas, we’re already thinking of the mood we want to create, what kind of colors we want to use, different kinds of shapes and other abstractions that will make the painting come alive. More importantly, our ideas of what we want to paint are vivid and we can envision it clearly. During this thought process there isn’t a single notion about being unable to create the painting. We are completely absorbed in our own creativity.

This type of approach is something you should be doing regularly when working on improvisation. When you create improvised solos in your mind nothing is off limits. The tempo, note groupings, speed at which everything is executed and every other element is all up for grabs. You can create scratch solos that are not only outside of your own current skill level, but above and beyond anything you’ve ever heard before as well. This is why improvising in your mind is such a powerful tool for your creativity and will allow you to be very self expressive.

There Is A Time And A Place

And that time and place can be literally anywhere at any time! Think about what it takes to actually scratch. First off you have to make time to do so. Secondly you have to be somewhere that a turntable and mixer is set up. I’m sure you can think of plenty of times where you had the desire to scratch, but didn’t have the time or access to gear in order to make it happen. Furthermore, I’m sure there are plenty of times throughout the day where you are doing something that doesn’t require a lot of thought, such as driving to work, taking an elevator, waiting in line at the grocery store or simply trying to sleep.

These are all great times to work on mental improvisation. For one thing it will make those types of activities much more enjoyable. For another, all of the time you spend working on it during these moments of your life adds up pretty quickly. By the time you are back in front of your set up and ready to scratch, you’re really excited and have a whirlwind of ideas to explore.

That Excitement Turns Into Motivation

Not only are you excited about all the possibilities, but you have a much clearer picture of where you want your scratch style to go. This can be extremely motivating when you come across physical barriers in your technique. Now that your creative ideas are stronger in your mind, it won’t be a question of not being able to do what you want, but more a matter of looking forward to when you can. With this type of mind set, patience and persistence becomes virtually unlimited.

Additionally you will have more focus on what to work on and likely won’t waste time on things that don’t fall in line with what you want to express. Once you have obtained this level of focus, you can speed up the learning process of scratching exponentially.

So How Do You Get Started?

If this concept is new to you, it might feel a bit abstract and possibly overwhelming to attempt. A simple remedy to this is to listen to the type of beats you would want to improvise over and mentally solo over them. In this day in age with all the mobile devices that exist, you can do this pretty much anywhere. Of course once this concept of mental improvisation is firmly planted in your mind you should have little need for such a crutch, but it’s a great way to get the ball rolling.

Why Seeking Perfection Will NOT Lead to Perfection

Seeking perfection in scratching is a very common thing. Obviously, the idea of being perfect is an ideal that many would undoubtedly love to experience in the real world. Unfortunately, seeking such an ideal rarely, if ever pans out to anything significant.

There is a lot of unspoken danger about becoming perfect. One of the biggest issues that will crop up for you time and time again when you feel you must be perfect at something is you'll be frozen in fear of not being perfect and hence not take any notable action towards your goals. The main reason being, that for most the idea of being perfect tends to feel like an insurmountable goal that no matter how much effort you put forth, shall never be achieved. When you have engulfed yourself in this belief you've essentially knocked all the air out of your sails and will likely have little to no motivation to take the actions necessary to progress.

Perfection Vs. Progression

What I'm about to say may be hard to believe, but I truly feel beyond a shadow of a doubt that true perfection does NOT exist! I also want to point out that I don't believe that's a bad thing. The problem with the idea of perfection is it places an artificial limit on what one can achieve and that at some point there is an end to what can be done with your scratching, or anything else in life for that matter. Yet we all know that everything that exists can always be improved upon (at least on a subconscious level). Humanity's greatest strength is within our ability to endlessly progress at whatever we choose. Scratching is a great example of that when you see how it started from its humble beginnings to where it's at currently. The amount of progression is very significant. Yet it is such a young art still with much room to grow.

Imagine if the forefathers of scratching and everyone that followed in their footsteps believed that perfection was achieved after only a few years of development. Clearly, the art would not be nearly as advanced and primed for further progression as it is today. This is why it's so important to avoid the idea of perfection and to place your focus on continual progression. NEVER place a glass ceiling over your head!!

Progression in Your Own Goals

Now that you have gotten a taste of how detrimental perfection can be on a grand scale, it's time to shift your focus back on yourself. This is important because, whether it's obvious or not, your progress has the potential to progress the artform overall. More importantly, on a personal level, you'll be able to feel much more fulfilled if you're regularly progressing and of course actually achieving the goals you've set out for yourself.

Progression will come, but it must be pursued systematically! The first major key to progress regularly at scratching is to change your belief system! After all, how can you possibly achieve what you want if you don't truly believe you will achieve it? All your thoughts stem from your beliefs, but if your beliefs aren't aligned with your goals it's like trying to run on a conveyor belt that's going top speed in the opposite direction that you're running in.

Even if you manage to get your beliefs and goals aligned, you will still likely struggle to keep your thoughts positive while scratching. The main thing to keep in mind here is patience. Anytime you make a major change in your life it takes time. There is no such thing as overnight success. Many steps need to be taken in the right direction before progress can be measured with major achievements. It takes daily effort on your part and faith that you WILL learn to dominate your thoughts with positivity!

Action Leads to Progression!

While improving your beliefs and thoughts is extremely crucial you DO NOT need to worry about perfection. Otherwise you're completely missing the point of this entire article. Remember, action leads to real world results and real world progress. We are human. We are not beings of perfection. We are beings of progression and progression does not take place without the willingness to put yourself to the test regardless of how prepared you are to deal with the challenges you face. Furthermore, since you'll be working on improving your beliefs and thoughts in addition to taking action, your actions have no choice but to improve as well!

Seeking a quality scratch mentor will also be of great help to you in order to supercharge your scratching progress, because a great scratch mentor will have already succeeded in many of the areas you wish to succeed in. When seeking success it's important to learn from someone who has been through the struggles that you may be experiencing and has figured out the solutions to those problems. Time waits for no man so don't waste your valuable time reinventing the wheel. Take charge of your future and start achieving your scratch goals!

Log in