Sometimes I tell my students that their fingers have brains. They get really excited & maybe even freaked out – and the best part is that I’m telling the truth.
Noelle Perrin, a Suzuki teacher trainer, uses this explanation with her students when she talks about muscle memory. We all know about muscle memory, especially its major benefits in Suzuki education. What I love the most about repetitions during a practice session is that it’s the total test for the student’s brain. Especially when learning a technical part in a song, or perhaps the B section in a certain song that is hard to remember, breaking it down into small pieces and utilizing repetitions promotes such high concentration and brain power. Their brain is working and focusing on such a high level to get every repetition correct, over and over again. But then the amazing thing happens at the performance: muscle memory completely takes over. When your child is nervous yet fully present in their performance, they may tell you they forget how they did, or even how it sounded. That’s normal – and it probably sounded great! Because of the numerous amounts of repetitions your child did in their lessons and home practice, their body takes over the performance and relies mainly on the muscle memory that they have created in their practice. In short: practice is for the brain, performance is for the body.
My favorite way to do repetitions is by rolling dice in our lessons. There’s an exciting chance factor in repetitions. I highly recommend getting creative with repetitions in your home practice. “What’s 5×3? That’s how many times you should play Cuckoo!” “How old is your sister? That’s how many times you should play this section!”