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How To Practice Effectively, According To Science

The practice may be physical activity, of course, but it’s also hard mental work — if you’re doing it right. a replacement video published by TED-Ed gets right down to the scientific nitty-gritty of what good practice seems like, and what it does to your brain. (Assume axons and myelin, not “muscle memory” — muscles do not have “memory.”)

As Annie Bosler and Don Greene, the maker of this TED-Ed lesson, point out, this recommendation can apply to all from music to sports. They specify effective practice as “consistent, intensely focused and target[ing] content or weaknesses that lie at the sting of one’s current abilities.” That’s differently of saying: Don’t waste some time practising the things you already know, just to refill those minutes.

More of their clear-cut advice, with each point bolstered by research:

  • “Focus at the task available .” Shut off all those digital distractions. No excuses.
  • “Start out slowly, or in a movie . Coordination is made with repetitions.” catch on right at a slow pace then work on growing your speed while still playing the music rightly.
  • “Frequent litany with allotted breaks are common process habits of elite performers.” Do what many pros do: rift your practice time into smaller, super-concentrated chunks, working multiple times each day.
  • “Practice in your brain, in vivid detail.” Envision playing your music without actually playing it. Put yourself through the music, note by note. Imagine what it seems like to press that key, or take that breath, every step of the way.

Of course, their advice about practising isn’t new; a quite little bit of it’s been floating around for a few time now, like during a series of posts published here on Deceptive Cadence a couple of years ago. But having a far better understanding of why and the way it works is inspiring — and helps you reinforce good habits.