Rate of Progression?

Rate of Progression?



Tuition books. So lovely and helpful. Finish one piece. Tick…. Turn the page….. Tick.


Each new chapter that little bit harder. Something new. Something more challenging.


Grade 1. Done. On to the next…


And so on and so forth.



Does music progression always have to be so…. Linear?


No two students learn the same. And no student will ever progress is a slow and incremental fashion at any aspect of learning, especially music.


So, why do we get to a stage of playing where we need to think that our next piece has to be ‘trickier’?


What is ‘trickier’? More notes? Faster? Do they challenge your playing? Probably. Do you progress after you’ve mastered them? Probably?


I have been thinking a lot this week about the rate of progression we often impose on ourselves, and in particular as adults. It’s so often we choose pieces that we feel we should be learning, because they look harder. I’ve been asking a lot of my grown up students about this recently. And we’ve decided we don’t know why it is that we always feel compelled to finish a piece and go on to the next new challenge. But we do.


It could be that this is how we learn. You master the basics and progress.


But what is progression? Where do you have to go?


Can we not play music, for music’s sake?


Can we not play a new piece, that is of the same standard. Could we not even play a piece that is well within our grasps and actually play it well. Give ourselves time to think about all those other mysterious elements of music that vanish when we’re concentrating on the notes and rhythms. Things like… Dynamics? Articulation?


Will you stop progressing onwards if you play pieces of the same standard or easier for a while? Could it be that your brain and body actually has a moment longer solidifying the knowledge it has already, before you give it something new to try?


So, the next time you’re choosing a piece either for yourselves or for a student. Perhaps take a moment to think. Do you constantly need something that keeps pushing you onward. Or perhaps could you have a moment to play something for joy. Something for you. Something…


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