Two Skills a Month Challenge 1 Report - Speed typing and pitch perfect skills

Written by Arindam Dawn

Jul 29, 2019

Takes about 7 minutes to read ⏱

“THE FRAMEWORK: • Identify the routine • Experiment with rewards • Isolate the cue • Have a plan” ― Charles Duhigg, The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business

I started the month of July 2019 with a fresh zeal to write more, read more and exploit my learning skills. I began a ‘two skills a month challenge’ where I decided to take up tasks that I may mould into skills and develop long term memory for it. I started with typing and being able to identify musical notes by listening which is popularly known as developing a pitch-perfect ear. Here is a link to my article where I wrote while taking up the challenge.

To give you a brief insight about my result, I have been able to achieve my typing skills goal (I can type now without looking at the keyboard) but I did not perform well in my second goal. I shall try to explain the reasons and the individual path taken towards the respective skills.

Speed typing - Ability to type (I don’t consider typing on the smartphone here 😛)

Prior to this month, my typing speed was decent enough but I had to look at the keyboard to be able to type. That serves the purpose most often but knowing the exact location of the keys in the keyboard helps a lot. It’s like setting up an auto-pilot mode while typing. You just need to look at the screen and your fingers will work automatically. The brain has one less item to think (i.e observing the keyboard) while you work on your computer. It’s just another habit like brushing teeth or tying shoelaces which we can do while talking to others without thinking about it.

I came across this wonderful website which helps you to be a pro in typing just by spending around 15-20 mins daily. The best thing is that the experience is gamified and addictive. During the 1st week, I was often bored at times and thought it is quite impossible for me to be able to memorize all keys but gradually I could see my progress. Here is a glimpse of my typing certificates that I received after taking 1 min, 2 min and 5 min speed tests. As you can see, with time my speed has increased. Currently, my speed is between 40-50 words per minute which are not jaw-dropping by any means but is a relatively decent feat. Think about it. You can be able to type 45 words per minute without staring at your keys at all.

1st test

1st test

2nd Test

2nd Test

3rd Test

3rd Test

5 min Test

5 min Test

Though being able to type at decent speeds in an auto-pilot mode is not that an immense achievement to brag about, I believe it has boosted my morale a lot and I can already see the benefits. The good thing about this skill is that I don’t need to force myself to practice every day once my challenge period gets over. I, anyways spend most of my time in front of my laptop typing something or the other. So continued practice won’t be a challenge at all.

Pitch Perfect Ear - Being able to identify musical notes by listening to it.

Well, I was a tad overconfident while taking up this particular skill, to be frank. I did not have a clear idea of what I was trying to achieve. I initially came across a website (which is quite useful) called tonedear where you can practice improving your listening abilities by training your ear. I assumed that being able to identify all notes correctly in this particular website would be enough to certify myself as someone who has a pitch-perfect ear! I had no idea and I was 100% wrong in this case.

Initially, I tried the exercises provided and I could see results. I was able to identify the simple notes in the C Major scale. I felt within a month, it won’t be tough to identify all 12 musical notes. However even after a couple of weeks, I realized, I was hardly making any progress. In fact, I performed very poorly sometimes unable to identify even basic notes. My curious mind brought me straight to youtube (My favourite website - Yes it’s not Facebook 😛). I learnt having a pitch-perfect ear is an impossible feat to try as an adult. A person who has a pitch-perfect ear can spontaneously tell any single note or a combination of notes (in music called chords). They are so damn good that they can even tell you the approximate note of a doorbell as well! That ability is innate and is attained during the initial days of childhood. You can check out the youtube video below where a kid easily identifies all musical notes. It’s spectacular!

Here’s where he shows how since birth the exposure to quality musical sounds have given shape to the musical mind.

How do adults learn to identify musical notes and be so good at it?

I also had the same question. How do singers, music composers, and other musicians (even many friends of mine have the ability) are so good at identifying notes, scale, the key of songs and compositions? Here comes the concept of relative pitch training where you train your ears to identify sounds based on a reference sound. Musicians who practice regularly for a considerable amount of time gradually develop amazing listening abilities. (It is just like a great mechanic with good experience will easily distinguish sounds produced by different vehicles and tell the manufacturer.) This process takes time and dedication and with enough practice, one can attain the capabilities very close to that of a pitch-perfect person. I was quite fascinated to know about all this and soon realized that I should rather spend a small chunk of my time and do deliberate practice for a considerably long period of time to start witnessing progress. It is not something that can be tackled in a shorter span of time. I read one article where I person claimed to have developed great musical ear in a month. It is amazing but again the results displayed by him are on a specific website toned ear and seems sceptical. Music is like an ocean and the same sound produced from different instruments have different quality or timbre.

Considering my overall progress during the month, I feel glad that I have been able to reduce my procrastination levels and learnt something new that might help me in the long run. Though I was not able to improve my musical ear that much, I have decided to continue with my deliberate ear-training practices to gradually soak information chunk by chunk rather trying to be a prodigy.

It was immensely exciting to be able to track my progress and learn something new. I have a few challenges in mind for the upcoming month that I want to pursue. However this time I decided to do some basic prior research on the estimated rate of success and achievability rate before jumping into it in a haste.

Books that I read this month

To conclude, I would like to mention the books that I have been reading throughout this month. I have started reading regularly which was an once occasional fancy stuff. The books are in no specific order and belong to a wide range of genre. I loved all of them and I am immensely grateful to the authors, bloggers, YouTubers who have indirectly recommended these marvels. I will provide the links (affiliate) to purchase them in case you’re interested. You can definitely give one of them a try.

I am excited to write about my new ‘two skills a month challenge’ soon!

More to come...

More to come...

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