Rote repetition isn’t just rote repetition

Rote repetition isn’t just rote repetition.

Let’s face the facts: to learn piano, we have to play things over and over. And then again some more. Sometimes mechanically.

Much of today’s education tries to avoid what it considers to be “rote repetition,” but what does this really mean? I’ve been teaching piano for 30 years at this point, and I can’t recall a single instance where a student repeated a passage so mindlessly that it lacked value. I didn’t see this in my high school academic classes either. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that we SHOULD be using repetition to memorize more. More poems, more math equations, more music. When you memorize these things they become part of you in a deep way.

Rote repetition isn’t just rote repetition.

It’s the transference of music from our brains to our muscles. Intellectual memory into muscle memory. It’s absolutely essential in learning piano, but no, it’s not the end result. After the fingers know the piece by themselves, we need to start thinking about it again. Analyze chord progressions, look for thematic connections, explore the music’s emotional content.

Unless we do that, rote repetition will just be rote repetition.

Have you seen my Evolution of Blues Piano video yet?

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