Repetition is the name of the game

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on

Aside from learning a tune a week, I have been taking a harmony singing class from Old Town School of Folk Music. Singing harmony has always been a challenge for me. I learn the harmony but then when someone starts singing the melody, my part becomes more of a hybrid of the melody and harmony and I can’t quite stay on the harmony track.

Our teacher this week made us go through line by line of each song we are learning and sing first the melody and then the harmony over and over and over again. She said the key to learning your part is repetition.

For this week’s tune a week tune, I’m learning a jig that is quite challenging with the bow. (You’ll have to wait until Tuesday to find out which tune). Normally, a jig’s rhythm is quite easy to play. But this particular tune is pretty note-y and in order to make it sound pretty and still keep the rhythm of the jig, one has to make some adjustments in the bowing, which is never easy for me. I get stuck in my bowing patterns and it’s hard to stray.

But since this week’s singing lesson was all about repetition and breaking down the music phrase by phrase to really grasp the essence of it, that is what I have been doing with this particular jig. It’s a tedious process but necessary.

So if you’re struggling with a tune or a particular phrase of a tune, I challenge you to break it down phrase by phrase and play it slowly, accurately and repeat it until your fingers and hands know where to go automatically. Not only will your playing improve but your confidence will shine through.

Happy playing. Tune in on Tuesday for #9 of 52 tunes!

3 thoughts on “Repetition is the name of the game

  1. Thanks for sharing. I had my son read because he is struggling with some songs and rhythm with his flute.

  2. I think that this is true of all neural learning. I was an Alpine ski racing coach for 46 years, and one of the challenges was convincing young athletes to work on a new skill by slowing down and repeating it continually at a speed that would allow for continually correct execution. For me, learning tunes, I first learn the notes, phrasing, etc., then I’ll play each part of the tune continuously at a tempo that I can repeat without mistakes (i.e., slowly) at least a dozen times. I’ll then progress to the entire tune, but with the same procedure. I’ll do it for days, if necessary, and it usually is necessary. I gradually try to increase the tempo, but only at a rate at which I can play it correctly.

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