The Discouraging Side of Progression
Progression is something we all thrive from and enjoy. It's often seen as a very positive thing, but there’s a negative side to progression that’s usually overlooked. There are ways to cope with the negativity that comes with progression, but before discussing that you need to understand how progression works.
Progression in scratching tends to happen gradually. It often takes many twists and turns before something comes out just right. Breakthroughs rarely come out of nowhere. It’s usually the result of many smaller steps of progression that came prior.
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 them, as you're likely to still be somewhat off from what’s accurate. This means 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).
Unfortunately, this is where progression is mixed with regression which is the downside of progression. It's very similar to the expression, "Old habits die hard." It's tough to accept that you keep repeating old habits, despite learning good habits to replace them with. When this happens it's typical to get upset and feel like your hard work wasn't worth it. It's only natural to feel frustrated when you’re not able to do something you just did moments before.
While there’s no miracle cure for this issue, there are things that can be done. You should always write about your 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 seems better to keep trying the same thing over and over after it happens, it can cause too many distractions. This allows room for old habits to creep in, adding confusion to what 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. This way you can be much more aware of what to do and what not to do.
The Big Picture Gets Even Bigger
The benefit of this strategy, besides coping with regression, is that it speeds up your progression. Once you’re used to this approach, you’ll spend far less time getting stuck on bad habits and far more time on what works. 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. Thus, 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 when you should let your work shine without concern of 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.
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.
Article written by Kwote