Tips & Tricks: Why you should “Play it again, Sam!”

Play it again Sam!A common issue that I run into with my students is that once they play something correctly, they want to move on. “I just got it right, why do I have to play it again?” This is very tempting to all of us! Once you have successfully played the piece, we tend to want to move on rather than building on our current success!

In my last post I wrote about muscle memory … every time you repeat something and play it incorrectly, your muscles are remembering what you have done. By moving on as soon as you play a piece correctly, your muscles have only actually done it right once. This means that the next time you play the piece your muscles are more likely to remember how to play it wrong than how to play it right!

There is a learning method that many people use that involves having 10 pennies lined up on one side of a table. Each time you play the passage correctly, you slide one of the pennies over to the other side of the table. When you make a mistake, you move all of the pennies back and start over again with the aim of playing it right 10 times in a row. This is an excellent exercise, although it can be time consuming and take a lot of patience!

My high school violin teacher (who also directed a local amateur orchestra) always believed in playing a passage three more times once you got it right. While not as thorough as the other exercise I described, also very effective!

Have fun practicing, and don’t forget to “Play it again, Sam!”

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