As children we learn how to be disciplined. From every action, every daily activity we are encouraged and told to focus. A good teacher will show us how to concentrate. Important exams will mean we have to throw ourselves into study and soak up the information. Revision courses, homework prep time, parents sending us to our rooms to avoid distractions. It’s coming at us from every angle. As a result we could, for at least 20 minutes, focus on a book, an exam paper, a conversation, without our minds wondering.
So why is it as adults we struggle so much to discipline our focus? When sitting down to write an email, read a book or write a letter our minds constantly wonder. The dishwasher needs to be emptied, I must call my mother, oh and that reminds me – I must chase that client. It’s never ending! Yes, these days there are multiple distractions: iPhones, emails popping up, twitter feeds, etc. But we should, as complex and intelligent beings, be able to concentrate on one thing at a time.
How can we expect our children to achieve these basic skills when we, ourselves, fail so badly? The brain is a muscle and so we need to exercise it. But how often as adults do we allow ourselves to do this? On a daily basis how many of us learn new skills, and discipline ourselves to focus on those?
Running a tutoring agency I feel envious of those who allow themselves this “brain work out”. Booking a lesson with a tutor, and paying for this time, one is made to concentrate.
So here is my challenge: I work a great deal in voice over work and narration for radio. One thing that I have never been disciplined to learn is phonetics. This is a crucial linguistic skill to have if you want to learn accents and dialects – a worthwhile tool for an actor.
Over the next month I have assigned a tutor to teach me phonetics. 30 minutes a day, one accent a week. This is my challenge. Fitting this into a busy schedule will be tough but discipline is what I intend to learn.
30 minutes a day of phonetic tutoring, as well as my own motivation to learning a British accent. Should be do-able right?
So which accent should I start with?