The most efficient way to study a composition is to learn the most difficult sections FIRST! Here’s why: The typical way that people learn is to learn the first part first. Then, each day they push forward and learn a few new measures. The problem is that it’s very tempting to stop pushing forward and to prematurely reward yourself by playing through the part you’ve already learned. This, of course, is the beginning section. As you approach the part that you don’t yet know, you hear the music getting slower and sloppier until it just stops. Then, this is so frustrating, you are tempted to repeat the part that you know again rather than work on the new section. So in essence, when you do this, you end up “practicing” the part you already know and avoiding the parts that you don’t yet know. This is so common, yet so ineffective! The worst part of it is that the part you already know is often the easiest portion of the music, as composers rarely start out with the most difficult passages. So think about it: You end up practicing and practicing and practicing the first section of the piece every time you “run through the part you already know.” Yet this is the EASIEST section and requires collectively the LEAST time. Whereas the hardest parts that require the MOST time collective are the parts you tend to avoid each day. It would be so much more efficient if you could get out of the assumption that you should learn the first part first. Instead, scan through the new composition and determine which sections appear to be the most difficult. Start on THESE sections, even if they are not connected. Eventually, each section will grow and they will overlap into each other. NOW, when you want to play through the sections you “already know,” it will be the HARDEST sections that you play through rather than the easiest. This means even if you avoid learning the new sections and you fall back on playing the parts you already have learned, you will still be doing some good, because these sections are the ones that will benefit by the continued review since they are so difficult. In the end, you will have over-practiced the hard sections and under-practiced the easy sections. The result will be that all the sections will be equally-mastered and this is what will help you reach your goal sooner than later!

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