Maximizing the benefits of time spent practicing
rather than spending “more time”practicing

One theory of education holds that “The subconscious works on problems in the background while the conscious mind is occupied with other matters”.

This theory posits that in order to properly digest any subject, it is best learnt in small digestible “bite-size pieces”.

This refers not only to the size of the pieces but also the time spent ingesting those pieces of information.

I was introduced to this concept by a high school teacher explaining the best way to take tests:

Read every question on the test. Answer all the ones that are easy. Don’t spend any time at all mulling over those that you don’t immediately know the answer to. But be sure to read EVERY question.

When you get to the bottom, start all over again. As you go through the second time, you’ll find yourself saying over and over again “Hey, this one’s easy. Why didn’t I know that the first time through? Hey, this one is obvious. Wonder why I didn’t see it right off the bat?”

The reason you know the answer NOW, and you didn’t know it the FIRST TIME through, is because the subconscious has had a chance to work on those problems while your conscious mind was occupied with reading the other questions.

The same thing happens the third time through as well.

If you are studying a subject, read ONE paragraph, and then give it a little time to digest before moving on to the next paragraph. You really won’t retain very much if you attempt to learn/internalize a hundred pages non-stop in a single sitting, but you retain an enormous amount of information if you take it in in “bite-size pieces”.

The internalization process is greatly speeded along by this simple yet incredibly effective technique.

A corollary to the above educational theory is: “The subconscious mind is incapable of working on the problem while the conscious mind is currently occupied with the self-same problem”.

If you find yourself at an impasse thinking “Damn, I’ve been practicing this same damn thing forEVER and I’m not getting any better at. I feel like I’m beating my head against the wall”.

Yes, you are indeed beating your head against the wall. That’s your cue to back off and do something different, so the subconscious can do its job.

The bottom line here is that ANY subject is learnt more quickly if it is ingested in bite-size pieces followed by a change in activity (or a period of rest). Realizing this and putting it into action takes advantage of the way the human mind internalizes skills and information, ie. the way we humans learn best.

So spend 10 or 15 minutes on an “exercise” and then leave it alone for a while. It’s surprising how much easier it is when you come back to it at a later time after having allowed it to “stew” in the back of your mind.

In addition, you are much less likely to develop the debilitating effects of repetitive motion injury that musicians are prone to due to over-practice.

If you've found the information above to be useful,
Please drop Five Bucks in the Tip Jar by clicking on the "Pay Now" button below!

copyright © 2009 Jeff Brent

If you've found your way to this page from a Search Engine link,
please click here to enter Jeff Brent's Web Site.
 (This link will take you to the entire web site.)