For the Love of Music, Learning, and Those Who Teach

Music instrument

Have you heard of MOOC?

I learned about MOOC about a month ago when I took a music course (Introduction to Ableton Live) with Coursera.

I’ve taken online courses, and participated in boot camps and forums in the past. But I’ve never taken anything on this scale and magnitude. I was blown away by the whole experience. I couldn’t believe the enormous amount of effort and preparation it took to make it work—there were approximately 38,000 students from 170 countries taking the course at the same time (if the information I have is accurate).

For the first time in years I completely lost myself for three weeks in the course material and music. I honestly didn’t think I still had it in me—to spend hours upon hours fixating and working with only one thing. But I did, and I had a blast! These three weeks changed my life. I listen differently now, and have more appreciation for sound and music.

In the past I’ve started and stopped trying to learn Ableton Live more times than I can remember. This time I stuck with it and I broke the self-imposed limitations and fears. I learned on my own, but being part of a structured class helped me a great deal in pushing myself to complete the assignments within the established timeline.

I’d like to share with you some of the insights I gained from this amazing experience that might be helpful to you if you love to learn.

And I hope you do love to learn. Learning is as human as curiosity and inquisitiveness. It changes us, it elevates us, and more importantly, it connects us with other like-minded people all over the world.

I don’t know how many participants actually worked with the material to completion (it’s a low percentage from what I gather). But even if a tiny fraction of humanity came together to learn, and make music, our collective energy shifted—higher.

Language barriers and cultural differences were put aside. People came from various backgrounds and skill levels, and it didn’t stop them from joining and learning. I loved every minute of it, and would love for you to try a course that interests you.

Observations and appreciation

Everything we do with intention and focused effort changes us. Learning and knowledge assure more than scare, embrace more than alienate, and empower more than demean.

A few thoughts below:

The majority of human beings are kind and supportive.

Regardless of race, age, gender, or religion, students tend to support and help one another. This is something that brings us closer, no matter where we are in the world.

Learning brings out the best in us. It nourishes our intellect, and fosters our talents. And when we’re learning within a group, the impact is magnified many times over. It’s a win-win-win, for the students, their communities, and the world.

Those who can do teach really well.

My teacher for this course is an amazing and talented artist. She kindly chose to teach and share what she learned. And that’s incredibly generous and supportive. I have more love and appreciation for music now than I’ve ever had.

No matter what subject we want to pursue, there’s always someone who’s willing to share his or her knowledge and experience with the rest of us.

The saying “those who can’t do teach” doesn’t apply here. Those who can do, actually do, teach well, and inspire. It’s very empowering and motivating.

We all have it in us to commit and do the work. It’s a matter of desire and motivation.

I admit, I’ve been scattered and can’t seem to put in more than a couple of hours of decent work, without jumping to something else.

But for those three weeks, I got lost completely in one project, and I loved every minute of it. I’m not saying that I did great. I sucked big time. But I enjoyed myself, and learned a lot.

The most important lesson I learned is that you have it within you to do anything you desire. You just need to align your intentions and actions by starting and committing. And that’s where a structured learning environment can be of great help.

What to look for when taking a course

Consider the following points when taking a course. I think they’ll make your experience more effective and enjoyable.

1- Choose something that interests you. It’s much easier to work hard on something you enjoy than a subject you think you have to take. You’ll feel more motivated, and you’ll experience less resistance.

2- Reprioritize your time. This is something I overlooked, and I suffered for it. If you commit to learning, you’ll have to give up something else for the duration of the course. Create space ahead of time so you don’t feel stressed, or you give up on learning, or ignore some other important task.

Multiply the recommended study time by 2 or 3 to be on the safe side. I spent 2.5 times the estimated study time.

3- Do the best you can, but don’t get hung up on scores and results. Participate and do the best you can, but don’t overthink the results. Unless you want an academic record of your achievement, do the best you can, and let go of wanting to have the highest score.

4- Support fellow students, and ask for help when needed. This is something I didn’t do because I didn’t allocate enough time to the course. I quickly skimmed the message boards and managed to listen only to compositions by my fellow learners whom I evaluated as part of the peer review assignment.

Part of the fun and experience is to extend a supportive hand and to learn from others.

5- Celebrate your progress. It’s natural to feel frustrated and doubtful, especially if you’re learning something completely new to you. When the feelings come up, let them be and reflect on how much improvement you’ve made since you started. You’ve learned and changed, but it may not be noticeable yet.

Learning resources (and gratitude list)

This experience got me started and for that I’m eternally grateful to all the individuals, and institutions that made such learning opportunity available to me, and many others.

  • Coursera: a great space for learning and growing. I didn’t have one glitch with streaming or downloading video, or submitting the quizzes and assignments.
  • Berklee College of Music: the perfect place to learn anything and everything about music. They’ve generously provided an excellent course, and chose a great teacher.
  • Erin Barra: couldn’t have asked for a better teacher. She inspired me in so many ways.
  • Ableton Live: the software that got me started, and my limitless creative tool.

For more information about MOOC, check this Wikipedia page and explore what’s out there.

Our growth doesn’t stop till the day we die. We’re meant to continue to learn and evolve. And the Internet has revolutionized the way we learn and interact with each other.

No matter what your circumstances are, if you can access and read this article, I hope you can pick something you’ve wanted to learn, and do it. You won’t regret it. We’re all waiting for your brilliance to shine through your thoughts, your creativity, and your being.

The world awaits you.