How Much Repetition Is Enough?

Michael Griffin’s blog has some very interesting thoughts on the mental aspects of becoming a musician. Well worth exploring!

Learning Strategies for Musical Success


The inflexible and automatic knowledge gained through repetition is the foundation of expert performance, but be warned—repeat carefully! The learning brain does not distinguish between good and poor habits but learns whatever we repeat. Repetition creates permanence, and habits are difficult to correct. In particular pay attention to rhythmic accuracy. Rhythmic patterns are robustly set in the memory and difficult to alter once in place.

Inexperienced learners struggle with the discipline required for repetition and get lulled into a false sense of mastery when they judge themselves as having played a passage reasonably well. Without sufficient repetition, however, the learning soon will unravel. Teachers should practise in front of students, modelling the ‘how’ of repetition. It is advisable to give young musicians who have not yet reached the metacognitive stage a quantifiable number of repetitions to aim for in their practice, perhaps a number not less than six. As students become…

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2 thoughts on “How Much Repetition Is Enough?

  1. Thanks for posting this Simon. I’ve written a follow up blog discussing the two types of repetition: blocked and spaced. This might also be of use. Kind regards, Michael Griffin.

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