Crossposted from my Substack.

You don't need to watch the videos to understand what I learned today; you can grok it from reading the text.

I'd like to make one more post in this series, to determine whether a person can use this grinding strategy to correctly estimate the time it will take to learn a piece of music. That said, I'm jumping the gun a little bit and need to spend at least the rest of this week ensuring that the grinding strategy works as well as it appears to work after today's experiment.

So... that'll be all from me on this topic until I'm ready to share those results. 

Yesterday, I began a series of videos on how to learn music more efficiently.

Today, I ran an hour-long experiment on the relationship between grinding (in the video-game sense, translated in this case as “repeating a 12-measure sequence 20 times in a row”) and learning.

Basically, I was asking myself whether I was confused about what deliberate practice meant. Somewhere in all of this I got stuck on the idea that to practice deliberately, you had to deliberate between each repetition. You had to ask yourself “how did that last pass go, and what can I do differently on this next pass?”

This time, I asked myself what would happen if I simply ran the pass over and over, twenty times in a row.

This is both “how I used to practice” and “completely different from how I used to practice.” As I note in the video, I learned a lot of piano repertoire by grinding my way through it — but as a younger and less disciplined pianist, I doubt I ever committed to grinding a single passage 20 times in a row. I gave up as soon as the grinding got repetitive and/or I got distracted, which meant that I never got to the point where I knew the passage well enough for the repetitions to become interesting again.

Younger!Nicole (and I include 2021!Nicole in that designation) also left out the key step that I discovered in yesterday’s video and re-integrated at the beginning of today’s video: before you begin the 20 repetitions, make sure you have the skills/understanding required to play the passage perfectly. It’s no good to grind until you know what you’re grinding, after all.

I think this is the most important thing I’ve learned about learning this year. 😉

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