The Importance of Repetition in Guitar Practice
Often while teaching my students a piece of music, I will ask them to repeat small sections. I might ask a student to practice grabbing a chord ten times in a row. Or I may ask them to play part of a lead five times straight. Repetition is a crucial component of learning any piece of music, regardless of the difficulty of the piece or level of the student. The reason for this is three-fold:
1. Muscle Memory: By repeating a movement, we train the neuromuscular system to do it subconsciously. When you are first learning a scale, chord, or pattern you will put a lot of effort into getting your fingers in the right places and remembering the notes. As you repeat it more and more, your central nervous system and brain will become adept at recreating it without having to think about it or strain your fingers.
2. Memorization: On top of muscle memory, repetition allows our brain to better visualize and remember what we have played on a conscious level. When you get to end of a section, you want to be able to picture what chords are coming next. Memorizing a song is the only true way to make it repertoire, something that we can play whenever prompted.
3. Training the ear: Playing a scale, chord or song over and over gives our ears a chance to hear it again and again. As such, we will become better able to identify the use of that chord, scale, lick etc,. in another piece of music. Over time you will listen to other guitar players play and think “Oh, they’re using that lick.” Or hear a song and say “Oh, this in that key, and they are using these chords.”