Thoughts on Practice*

A few thoughts on practicing from an article in the Wall Street Journal – an article that applies practice as musicians and athletes know it to other areas. Italicized comments are my own thoughts.

  • “Practice lets us execute a task while using less and less brain processing.” Fingers can fly by themselves as we dig into the creative elements.
  • “…many instructors, in talking about practice, are just as likely to get things wrong as to get them right… fast, simple feedback is almost always more effective at shaping behaviour than is a more comprehensive response well after the fact.” Fast and simple. Put the lid on too much teacher talk. 
  • “It is easy to mistake critique for correction.” Mary Gae George would take it one step further – prepare the students and pieces adequately, negating the need for correction. This is a work in progress for me.
  • “… when it comes to practice, simpler is often better. The brain (prefers to learn) in manageable leaps. Then it releases the chemicals that reward success and deeply encode behavoir.” Manageable leaps. Baby steps for some. The joy of teaching.

Read the entire article here. Thank you David.

*I’m going American with the spelling of “practice” here. I know that as a good Canadian I should be distinguishing between the noun and verb with the spelling, but on this one I’ve made the leap. 

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About LaDona's Music Studio

Musician, pianist, teacher, blogger.
This entry was posted in Inspirational, Piano pedagogy, Practice Tips and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Thoughts on Practice*

  1. I always try to remember to do things right from the very beginning. I won’t rush through just to finish and then go back. I take one step at a time. Once you have practiced something incorrectly, it is very difficult to correct it later on.They say a stimulus enters long-term memory (that is, it is “learned”) after it has been attentively observed 7 times. But if an “incorrect” stimulus is first learned, it then takes an average of 35 repetitions to learn the “corrected” stimulus. So in other words if you are practicing a piece and you are playing an A key instead of B key, it will take you 35 more times to re-learn it with the correct key. Why waste all that time when you can just start off with slow, attentive practice right from the beginning?

    • If only everyone would take the time and care that you do in learning a piece! It seems so obvious, doesn’t it? I think it goes against human nature or something to tackle something that carefully :) Kudos to you! And thank your comment.

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