By Melissa McNeely
When is it fun to repeat things over and over? I'd like to say when I'm having fun! I heard something recently that I won't quote verbatim, because I don't remember it exactly, but the gist of it was that if we are trying to train our brains to remember something, we have to repeat something approximately a zillion times to burn it into our brains, UNLESS we are having FUN or in the process of PLAY! Whaaaa??? Major SHORTCUT!! This is mind boggling for sure, and a zillion times may be a bit of a creative over-exaggeration, but it was definitely about 10,000 way-too-many laborious times, and that number is less than 50 when it's in play! Now how absolutely crazy is that? This boggles my mind for many reasons, but it did get me thinking. It honestly got me thinking quite a bit to be honest! When I think of things I absolutely love to do, I remember the beginning of each of those things was absolutely in PLAY while I was having FUN! I learned to catch a ball while playing! I learned to serve a volleyball by playing volleyball, and I learned to ride a bike, while playing with my bike as a kid!
Certainly I have not done any of these things 10,000 times, and truly if so, I've certainly lost count (wink), but I feel confident I'm pretty decent at all of them! Now don't go thinking those are the only things I know how to do, because I know how to do many things, and so I'm here to admit that I've clearly done some things I do not absolutely LOVE to do way over 10,000 times! LOL! Doing dishes pops into my mind, vacuuming the floors is another, and insert many household chores that are a necessity of living. I know how to do them, but they were most likely learned from continual repetition, and not necessarily in fun and play! BAH! Also, does it not add up that if you are having FUN in PLAY, then this remembering we are all trying to do is accomplished through a major SHORTCUT! How exciting is that?
As I'm doing these days, when I hear some intellectual tidbit such as this, my mind is drawn to apply it to what I'm currently doing. You all know that I'm currently learning the piano, so here I am to share my new discovery. When it comes to the piano, I decided that I definitely need to turn my practice time into FUN and 'PLAY' if I am ever to remember anything about playing the piano. This is an absolute must for me because the information to learn is vast, and I'm in the second half of my life, so time efficiency is important to me and shortcuts really grab my attention! Checking into my heart and inner musician, I also know that I am 100% more apt to vacillate towards a FUN activity in PLAY than something that is seemingly a chore, so it's is helping me stay on task with my piano goals!
HOW IN THE WORLD can I turn my practice time into fun and play? I'm going to tell you what I've tried so far, that has made an enormous difference in switching my mindset to FUN AND PLAY instead of just another item on my 'TO-DO LIST'. First off, when I am learning a concept about music, and if it's a concept that is foggy for me to wrap my mind around I seek out additional information around this topic. (Yes, indeed this is most of the topics!) In the very beginning of my learning, I had a major, if not continual, struggle with note name association, or simply reading the notes. What I did was I found many methods to help me
remember the notes, starting with flashcards, which were helpful, and then and moving on to apps for my phone to help learn the notes, and also writing the note names on the piece of music I am currently learning. I have to say that for me, the apps I've found (that start out free, by the way) are Notes Teacher, and Nutka. Silly as this is, these apps have made note name sight and association more of a 'fun' process for me by turning my mindset to 'game', which I clearly associate with fun and play. I'm not perfect and there's much more to go in learning, but when I have some extra time, I sit on my phone and instead of doing a crossword puzzle game, I open my note naming app, and here's the thing, I'm getting much better at note names! I do have to credit these apps to me learning some of the notes and I'm actually proud to say I'm confident in the notes I've learned thus far and do not have to double check each note when I go to write them on my music anymore, (thanks to the app PLAY time)!
I've also been struggling a little bit with rhythm for instance, and I've mentioned that in the past. In searching for more information, I learned about another tool, which is a book about rhythm. This terrific book is called Rhythmic Training by Rober Starer. I found this on one of
the videos I had watched from the Ashlee Young Music Studio which is honestly, my first 'go to' when seeking out more information on music! There are so many resources on this site here if you are interested. If you are not familiar with ASHLEE YOUNG MUSIC STUDIO videos on YOUTUBE please check it out.
There is a vast amount of videos out there for learning to play the piano and many if not all of the topics on how to get there. In these videos, many concepts are broken down into much smaller pieces and because they are easy to listen to, you can re-listen as often as you desire, in addition to pausing and trying out what's being taught, and then restarting the video from there. I move from one concept to another and then watch them over and over again. For me, they are major game changers! I highly recommend checking them out! I definitely also have to mention the app called Rhythm Cat - if you like the idea of turning your practice into a fun game to work on your rhythm anywhere, anytime, check this one out too!
I'm currently learning the piece Prelude in C Major by Bach - and it may be the simple version because I'm a newbie but this is a beautiful piece and my husband loves it when I 'practice' this one. Well, here's the thing, ASHLEE YOUNG MUSIC STUDIOS made an ENTIRE VIDEO on learning this exact piece, and I cannot tell you how exciting that was to see!
There are definitely some SHORTCUTS to learning! Now I don't know about you, but when I hear the word shortcut, my head pops up, and you have my FULL attention! I get excited about the idea of any type of short cut! LOL! Additionally, when I hear the word short cut, my brain shifts immediately, and puts this new shortcut into the side of my brain that houses FUN and PLAY and also adds an element of 'challenge' that grabs on to my inner child who clearly is somewhat competitive, and lo and behold, I am instantly gung ho to get to it! (If you happen to learn this piece, I highly recommend checking this video out, because there's a FUN way to SHORT CUT practice time with CHORDS for this specific piece and a absolute game changer for learning the whole piece.) I'm on another mission, and that mission is to see how exactly I can turn each of my new music learning challenges into my most favorite and FUN thing to do, and mostly turn that into PLAY because I'm here to admit, there's not enough time in my life to repeat too many new things 10,000 times in order to remember them, I don't know about you, but I'm signing up for the FUN AND PLAY OF SHORTCUTS! I hope you'll join me!
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