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Practice makes Permanent

5 months ago

When it comes to practising we’ve all heard that practice makes perfect. However, as our Chief Examiner, John Holmes, suggests this is not always true: ‘the truth is more that practice makes permanent.’

Practising is the act of repetition and the more we repeat an action the more ingrained it becomes. From music progression to education and sports, repetition is essential to quality improvement but ‘effective practice only truly starts once you get it right.’

‘If you try something once and get it a bit wrong, then you have another couple of tries and get it a bit better, and try a fourth time and finally get it right, but stop at this point, you’re not really practising effectively. This is the point at which real practice starts!’

So whether you’re trying to improve your own performance or helping someone else improve theirs, we have some helpful hints to help you make sure that your practice makes permanent improvements.

  • Don’t just practise your mistakes
  • Remember practice only really starts once you’ve got something right
  • Be mindful in your practice: make sure you are reinforcing the perfect, rather than the imperfect
  • If you’ve been working through a tricky passage and you have finally got it right, then you should aim to repeat it correctly at least three more times to embed the right behaviours.

As John suggests, ‘if you make sure that your practice involves a majority of correct versions, you will ingrain these, rather than mistakes. This way, your practice will gradually make permanent what you intended, and will have a positive reinforcing effect.’

Excellent advice for music practice and beyond!

Practise right with ABRSM Music Case. Music Case is a free practice tracking app helps you to organise and reflect on your practice, making practice time more effective. #Practiceimproved


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