Rule #5 – Repeat to remember.
My take aways:
1. Information that gets into my brain is sliced up in many different small parts and sent to different areas even though the information fits together. So the information for how I go about singing a certain piece is stored all over my brain. Pieces about correct diction are stored in different places than those about how to breathe for a phrase or how to use my facial muscles to convey an emotion.
2. Our brains like patterns. Comparing and contrasting a new idea to ideas that are already understood helps the learning of both ideas to be more permanent. I do this to some degree in my classroom when I teach. On the day the half note is introduced to my students we spend a few minutes talking about how it is the same and different as the quarter note (a note they are already really familiar with) both in its visual qualities and its musical meanings.
3. Automatic processing is key! Students have a much better chance of recalling information if the setting where it was presented to them is recreated. This is part of the reason why we have a “dress rehearsal” for our concerts. I want my students to be recalling how to sing in the concert hall (gym) during the concert not learning how to do it during the concert. Before we even get to the dress rehearsal I’ve been going over with the kids the basics of “how to” perform. How do you stand? Where do you look? Where do you stand? What’s the difference between a good performance and an average one? Hopefully because of the number of repetitions of the information their body recalls it automatically. Once we get in front of an audience whole pieces of the brain are busy helping the student to cope with this new piece of the puzzle. I need for as many parts of the performance to be automatic as possible. If I can remove other stresses it is more likely my students will be able to focus on and enjoy the process of making the music.