How Often to Repeat Something while Practicing | Violin Lounge TV #231
This episode is about how many times you should repeat something while practicing the violin. We all know practice makes perfect. Did you know in some cases too many repeats can make your playing worse?
It’s been researched that five to nine repeats is most effective. More repeats don’t make much sense for two reasons:
If you play something well for nine times it doesn’t help you much further to repeat exactly the same thing for another hundred times. Yes, it makes it more solid, but there are more effective ways to reach stability in your playing (keep reading!).
If something goes wrong and after nine times it still goes wrong… Don’t repeat it for another hundred times. Clearly something is off and if you keep repeating it, you will make this mistake permanent.
Practice doesn’t always make perfect, but it does make permanent. Repeating the same mistake over and over could make your playing worse. You are telling your fingers to make the mistake over and over again, so that’s what they will do in the future.
The second reason why you shouldn’t repeat the same mistake endlessly is that it won’t improve if you don’t analyse the mistake. What is it that makes this run so difficult? What skill should you learn to be able to do it right? Is it a position change? A string crossing?
Don’t repeat without thinking, but change something. Play it much slower or perhaps faster. Perhaps you should try a different fingering.
Once you know what causes the mistake and you are ready to practice the difficult run, practice variations: different tempo, different rhythms, different bowing (slurs or not). In the video I demonstrate this. Be very creative with it. Do every variation five to nine times.
Practicing variations is way more effective than endless thoughtless repetitions. Also it’s more fun and less frustrating. If it’s more fun, you will be more motivated practice more and better.
I’m very curious to hear from you if you have applied these strategies and what result you have noticed. Please share your experience in the comments below!
PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!