It all starts in the practice room… well yes, no surprise there I guess. But… what can we do to get more consistent results from practice sessions?
You do a good, solid practising session on an excerpt: slow practice, rhythmical variations, slowly increasing speed… until, after an x amount of repetitions, you can play the excerpt with consistency. And you happily move on.
Only… next day when you play the same excerpt, you discover you are back to yesterday’s starting point… where did all your progress go? ARGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!
Recognise that? What went wrong? Although we feel comforted by the series of repetitions, one after the other, and the progress we made with them, research proves that this system does not really improve consistency in performance. Why? Because it takes you from A to Z, stage by stage, but… you are supposed to learn how to start on Z, directly without all the other ‘in between’ steps.
How else should you practice? Muscle memory requires repetition, right? Of course! But… why do the repetitions in sequence?
Enter: Random Practice Schedule.
With Random Practice Schedule you do the same amount of repetitions, just not one after the other. Starting is the most difficult moment, and in this system you force yourself to start many times: so you really learn how to start directly from Z. Mission accomplished :-)
Random Practice Schedule
- Pick the excerpts you would like to work on and how long you would like to work on them
- Define what you will work on for each excerpt
- Set the timer for 5 minutes
Start with excerpt A, work on it for 5 minutes, go to excerpt B, work on it for 5 minutes, go to excerpt C and work on it for 5 minutes, and then back to one of the excerpt (mix the order to maximize the effect) and so on till you have practiced the amount of time you had planned.
It might feel more challenging at first than the Block Practicing System (all repetition in sequence) but this system will ensure that you can start tomorrow where you left today.
Benefits of Random Practice:
- it forces you to become more actively engaged by preventing simple (mindless) repetition of actions
- it gives you more meaningful and distinguishable memories of the various tasks
- causes you to forget the short-term solution (from working memory) to the movement problem after each task change