Memorization Madness – Part 1
Your time in the practice room is extremely valuable. You should not waste it on unnecessary issues, or only “half practice”. I started my study on memorization of a particular skill by using my students as subjects. I took my own experience as well, but I asked each one the following questions:
- 1. How many times do you have to practice something (whatever is it) to learn it without looking at the page?
- 2. What is the amount of time it takes to practice something until you can do in every key, without hesitation, all over the fret board (in multiple positions)?
- 3. Is there a number of repetitions you should practice something until you have total mastery?
These are important questions to think about, and once you do, they will really help you start thinking about how you spend your time. Let’s say we’re trying to memorize a short phrase (8 notes). Our end goal is total mastery. We’ll talk about total mastery later in this post:
When I spoke to individual students about question 1, the time they thought was all over the place. Some examples:
- Bob 1: 1000 reps
- Jane 2: 1000 reps
- Jake 3: 250 reps
- Caleb 4: 500 reps
- Bill 5: 1400 reps
- Emily 6: 800 reps
Let’s break this down even more and talk about it in the perspective of time. Meaning, the time you spend practicing. If the said lick is 8 notes, and you’re playing it in quarter notes, it takes 7 1/2 seconds to play it. Therefore, take the LOWEST estimation (800 reps), we end up at 100 minutes, roughly a little over one hour. If we take the HIGHEST estimation (1400 reps), we end up at 175 minutes, nearly 3 hours of practice time. That’s a BIG difference. And bear in mind, this is just for reaching the 1st level of mastery, being, playing the exercise or phrase without the music, having it “in your hands”.
Click here for Part 2!