Faster progress comes from getting all the notes right
all the time!

If we want to make faster progress on musical instruments we need to follow Habit 1 carefully

it is essential to get the notes 100% correct at all times

This is because our brains learn patterns. When we learn to play pieces of music our brains are actually learning the patterns within them.

Blue tick

Each time we play 100% correct notes the pattern is reinforced. Each time some (even one) of the notes are wrong, it isn’t. In fact, the more times we play something wrong, the more our brain learns the wrong pattern! Better not to play at all than to play incorrectly, at least that way you aren’t reinforcing the wrong notes!

Educational psychologists currently believe that a pattern is learned after it has been repeated 7 times correctly. If a pattern is learned incorrectly first it takes an average of 35 repetitions to unlearn and learn the correct way! So if you want to make faster progress let this be your encouragement for getting it right first time, and every time!

How to get it right every time and guarantee faster progress

It is very simple to play 100% correctly every time. Here is the secret

And stop if there is something of which you are not sure

That’s it. Play slowly. It seems very obvious and of course it is common sense, but you would be surprised at how many people have an "Ahhh moment" over this. One of the essential keys to slow practice is to make sure you are using the correct technique. Click here to read a page on slow practice which explains how to make it work for you, rather than against you. For maximum effectiveness use a metronome.

Stop if you find there is something you can’t play, or a note or fingering you don’t know. Work it out - don’t guess. Mark it on the music. Yes, this will interrupt the flow of the rhythm a few times as you stop to figure out what you are doing... but it means your brain is learning the correct pattern of notes and the stopping will stop very soon! You can even stop before a complex section and take it at a slower speed. As long as the notes are 100% correct at all times

If you make sure you have 100% correct notes all the time you will begin making faster progress almost overnight.

But I could play it at home

Getting notes 100% correct can also help with curing this problem. If you find you are getting things right at home and wrong in your lesson making sure you have 100% correct notes at all times can help.

Think about your practice. Does it follow this pattern?

Play something. Get it wrong. Play it again. Get it wrong. Play again, a few less mistakes this time. Play again. Same mistakes as last time. Play again a few less mistakes. Play again...almost there. Play it again...EXCELLENT! All notes correct. Got it! On to the next section.

Look back at the previous paragraph. Six times wrong. Once correct. And you wonder why things go wrong in your lesson? If that was each session for five days you’d think you had practiced 30 times... but you would have played the piece wrong 25 times and correctly 5 times! Something to think about?

When you've 'got it'
you are beginning to practice it

There’s always a point when practicing a section that we think... GOT IT and move on.


This is when the most valuable practice is done. It is at this point you are strengthening the dendrite connections in your brain. Make the most of it. For faster progress, when you think ‘got it’ play through that section another five times. At least! Since you are playing it correctly it won’t take long and the small time investment here pays off hugely in terms of progress and the speed at which you learn pieces... and in the HQ (Happiness Quotient) of your teacher next lesson!

Go on to the next efficient practice habit: Clear Practice Targets

Expert Practice Secrets

practice makes perfect by simon horsey

Frustrated with your practice? Read Practice Makes Perfect and hack the 10,000 hour rule. Cut your practice time by up to 25%! Make faster progress, learn pieces and scales faster, memorize more easily, and much more. "If you play an instrument you need this book!"

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