Three Reasons You’re Not Reviewing Your Music

Review your music regularly.

You know you should be reviewing the music you’ve learned but somehow you never get to it. I know; I don’t do as much review as I should either.

Reviewing the music we know should be the easy and fun part of our practice. Often, however, it’s the part we put off. We save it, as if it were dessert, until after we’ve worked on the pieces we have in progress, only to find that we’re too tired to enjoy our review when we’re done. 

In fact, review is not the dessert after your practice; it’s the essence of your practice. The reason you put in all those hours of practice was in order to be able to play your music, and review is when you finally can stop doing the hard practice work and start doing the fun playing work. 

Review work will help you secure all the details you’ve worked hard to perfect. It will strengthen your knowledge of it and give you the confidence to make your interpretation of the piece exactly what you want it to be. Even better, the more you review a piece, the more fun it will be to play.

Of course, we all know what happens to our music when we don’t review it. The ugly truth is that no matter how hard or long you have practiced a piece, the moment you stop practicing the piece you begin to un-learn it. A little bit of regular review is all you need to prevent this. So why aren’t you reviewing your music?

You aren’t reviewing your music because…

  1. You don't have the time. This is patently false. Logically, if you spend time practicing, but not reviewing, you are wasting your practice time. When you put in the effort to learn a piece and then abandon it instead of review it, your practice efforts have produced no benefit for you. True, you may have improved your technique and enlarged your musical understanding, but you haven’t added to your repertoire for the long term. Allocating some of your practice time to review is time-efficient.
  2. You don’t have any pieces to review. That’s probably because you haven’t started a review habit yet! Look through your music and choose one piece - it can be a very simple one - and play through it until it feels fairly comfortable. Poof - you have your first review piece! Add another piece or two, review them weekly, and pretty soon you’ll have a repertoire. How’s that for an easy win?

  3. You’re not sure exactly what the review process should be.  Review is mostly just “playing through.” It is definitely NOT taking a piece apart and practicing it. Review should accustom you to playing a piece from beginning to end without stopping. Basically, then, all you need to do is play your review pieces through. 

So what do you do about mistakes that need fixing? 

When you play through your review piece, you may notice spots you need to refresh. After you have finished playing through the piece, make a note of those spots in your practice journal or on a sticky note. Then practice those spots on a different day during your regular practice. I find it is best not to mix review and practice; it’s too easy to lose sight of the real purpose of review which is playing and fall back into the practice habit of fixing.

Perhaps you still need a little more motivation to start reviewing your music, If that is so, then I will share my own favorite thing about review: I love playing music on the harp, and that’s what review work is all about. It’s my release from the drill work of practice. It saves me from having to re-learn music that I already spent hours learning. It ensures that I always have something ready to play if I am asked. And even if no one else asks me, I can play it for myself any time I want.

Now...will you promise to start your review habit???


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