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Stop Telling Your Kids To Practice 10 mins a Day.

Updated: Jun 25, 2023

Repetition vs Time: Why Repetition Wins Every Time

Teen sitting on a coach playing guitar and looking at their right hand.
Teen Practicings Guitar

Regarding learning a new skill or subject, two factors are crucial: repetition and time. Many believe that the more time you spend studying or practicing, the better you will become. However, others argue that the key to mastery is repetition. In this blog post, we will explore the debate between repetition and time and determine which one is more important for effective learning. Sidebar - We believe practice is the agreement with one’s self to improve. That’s it. For kids, this is a challenging concept as most “want it now” (“it” being great at their instrument) Kids aged 5- sometimes eight years do not understand the concept of time. So when you say to your 6-year-old, “Go practice for 10 mins” to her, that could mean the whole evening. Time isn’t rational to kids. However, if you say, “Go practice bars 4-8 20 times” (or until it feels easier - use how you know your child best), we have found it to be more effective. The former often leads to the non-musical whining of, “has it been 10 minutes yet?!” Or, “How much time is left?!” They clock-watch and are not focused. Repetition (reps) results in another reaction. First, it seems more manageable. Kids can “see it, " creating a strong desire to finish the task. They are focused on the instrument. Some argue that it’s not quality practice. While there is slight merit to this, it’s a) better than the clock watching and b) a great technique to get kids into the habit of practicing. If your child is new to music, establishing a habit based on the child’s desire to participate will create a better musician. Second, it can elicit longer practice sessions than 10 minutes. Because the focus is on the instrument and not the clock, students may get wrapped up in playing, and the wins are more apparent.


The Power of Repetition


Repetition is a critical factor when it comes to learning. By repeating a task or skill, we strengthen the neural pathways in our brains that are associated with that particular activity. This leads to improved performance and increased proficiency. Repetition also helps to solidify information in our memory, making it easier to recall in the future. It allows us to develop muscle memory which is crucial for many skills like playing an instrument or typing on a keyboard.


Time is also important in the learning process as it allows us to absorb, process, and retain information in our memory. When we spend more time on a particular subject, we have a better chance of understanding it thoroughly. Additionally, time allows us to practice and refine our skills, essential for mastery. However, simply spending more time studying or practicing does not guarantee success. Effective time management is crucial to ensuring that our learning time is productive and efficient. While a hockey team may practice for an hour, that is more for the societal need to block off practice while balancing life’s responsibilities. In that hour, specific drills are repeatedly done. The higher the level, the more attention to weaknesses are given. This should be the same when practicing an instrument.


Finding the Balance


While both repetition and time are important for effective learning, finding the right balance is key. Spending too much time on a particular subject can lead to burnout and decreased motivation. Similarly, repeating the same task or skill over and over again can lead to boredom and frustration. However, repetition is a more effective way to learn as it strengthens the neural pathways in our brains. It is crucial to create a practice schedule that incorporates repetition in a balanced and efficient way. Consistency is also crucial, as regular practice and study will lead to better results over time.


Conclusion


In conclusion, repetition is a critical factor in the learning process. It allows us to develop muscle memory and strengthens neural pathways in our brains, leading to improved performance and increased proficiency. Students can also piggyback the benefits and develop a self-induced practice habit. While time is also important for learning (especially at the higher levels of playing), repetition, from our experience, is a more effective way to learn. Finding the right balance between repetition and time is the key to learning. By creating a practice routine that incorporates repetition in a balanced and consistent way, we can maximize our learning potential and achieve our goals.

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