Category: Articles for Parents (English & Spanish)
Wartberg, Kerstin: Progress Through Repetition
Dear parents, after some years of instrumental lessons your children will have learned a good number of pieces. To some parents and students, regular repetition of all pieces may now seem too laborious and complicated. Nevertheless, this area of practice should not be neglected. Regular review of high quality becomes ever more important as skill levels increase. What follows will illustrate both why review should not be neglected, as well as how to make it a fun and exciting experience.
What effect do review exercises have on children?
Children who regularly review previously learned pieces or learn new pieces and techniques through systematic repetition, gain fundamental experiences that can be applied to many areas of life. Musically their development is more advanced, and they have better command of their instrument than those who predominantly play only their current pieces. In order to illustrate some important aspects of review, try to imagine the following three scenarios:
First scenario: Think back to the time when your children made their first attempts to walk. They fell countless times, got back up, fell down again, scraped a knee and maybe cried. However, when they finally managed to walk a few steps, they would laugh with joy at their accomplishment. Untiring, they tried to walk again and again, alone or holding your hand. You remember these scenes very clearly.
Second scenario: We observe a circus performer balancing with confidence on the high wire, doing somersaults or jumping up and down. He stands smiling in the spotlight and accepts his applause. We all know how much intensive training and daily practice is required to perform such feats.
Third scenario: Imagine a beautifully well-groomed garden in full bloom. In the sunlight, under a tree, a monk sits peacefully and deeply absorbed in meditation. After a while, he stands up, picks up his bow and arrow, carefully takes aim, and hits the center of the bull's-eye.
The first scenario represents the natural need for learning and achievement found in small children, qualities that should be nurtured for life. The high-wire artist illustrates how much we can achieve when we constantly strive to improve ourselves, giving joy to others and gaining self-confidence in the process. The third scenario describes a path for inner development. Here, shooting with a bow and arrow serves as a means towards self-education. The monk isn't really interested in the handling of a bow and arrow. His objective can be found in the voluntary self-improvement revealed in his unwavering goal of perfect execution. A Zen saying clearly illustrates this principle:
What I do, I do fully; I give my best.
I do this naturally, with enterprise, joy and infinite care, playfully-serious.