Can you really learn too much about music or, well, anything?

Probably not.

All I know is that I have been very guilty numerous times in my life of over-learning and under-doing.

If you are anything like me than you love reading about new concepts, hearing about revolutionary breakthroughs, and studying diverse philosophies. Clearly, there is nothing wrong with any of that. The problem comes when I never put to use any of the new information.

I call this “left foot syndrome.”

Think of your left foot as learning and your right foot as doing. If you step with only your left foot then you will end up going nowhere and just walking in a circle. It is the same if you learn and fail to do!

Left-foot-syndrome is caused by us looking for the secret sauce, the success potion, the one thing that is keeping us from playing at the next level. Because, I mean, c’mon! You can’t expect us to just put our head down and practice. There must be a better way!

This is an all too familiar mindset. It is familiar to me because I fell prey to it for many years and still battle it nearly everyday.

I’ve never had a consistent guitar or mandolin teacher.

That said, I have had the opportunity to sit-down for one-time private lessons with some of the best guitar and mandolin players in the world. I am being very literal when I say “best in the world”. We are talking Grammy Award winners, IBMA Guitar Players of the Year, and Country-Music-Hall-of-Famers. I would go into these lessons with such great expectations. I knew I was going to be shown what lay behind the veil of success.

And, without fail, I was shown the same dreaded secret to success: more practice, more action, more right-foot steps.

I certainly don’t want to discourage anybody from learning.

Because, I mean, we all love the term “work smarter not harder.” So by all means, keep learning. But always remember, the one thing keeping you from getting better on your instrument is not knowledge.

It is practice.

If you know enough to practice for 20 minutes today then you know enough for today. Once you’ve mastered, and I mean MASTERED what you already know, then maybe it is time to take a step with the left foot.