Learn Music Fast Using Spaced Repetition

Published: Apr 19, 2016

Our culture teaches us that the best way to master something is through hard work, persistence and perseverance. We interpret that to mean that practice involves continually repeating an activity until we can complete it. What if I were to tell you that isn’t the best way to learn music fast? You see, the brain learns and retains new information and skills better if it is exposed to an activity, rested from that activity and then exposed again.

We are familiar with the idea of interval training in sports. To be build greater fitness, we work the body hard for a relatively short period, take a break from the activity and then repeat the exercise. This gets the best bang for your training buck.

We can apply this same principle to learning information and/or skills to obtain more bang for our learning buck. What this tells us is that if I were to practice a piece in 3 x 20 minute blocks I would improve more than if I practiced the same piece continuously for 60 minutes. And it would be less monotonous.

When I was learning, scales, I would practice them during the ad breaks on TV. While the ads were on, I would practice the scales. Then when the ad was over, I would return to watching the show AND FORGET ABOUT THE SCALES I WAS PRACTICING. I found this method very effective.

Now here is an interesting point. Taking a break from the activity doesn’t necessarily mean doing nothing or thinking about nothing. While I was watching TV, my brain was still active, it was just thinking about something different. I could have been cooking eggs, playing tennis or doing anything which made me forget for a short time about what I was practicing. the important thing is I wasn’t thinking about the scales for a period of time. Then when I returned to the scale, I would be starting from a higher base.

This principle works over different time frames, be it minutes, hours, days, weeks or months. The more you repeat the activity, the less frequently you need to repeat it. The point is, it is the break in between that enhances the learning effect.

If you are interested in this, Northern Music will be holding free workshops to show you how to learn music fast. The workshop will cover spaced repetition as well as other strategies to help you learn music fast. Keep an eye on our events page for the dates.

Any comments and questions are welcome.

Using Spaced Repetition to learn music fast