Once upon a time I had a great article about the importance of review, and I can’t find it anywhere!! Instead, here are my top 5 reasons for reviewing those old favorite pieces.
- Performance – there is always something ready to play for houseguests, grandparents, school talent shows, etc. Students perform review pieces with ease and confidence. Musicians who regularly keep pieces at their fingertips feel ready for anything.
- New Skills – Reviewing old material can help us implement new technical and musical skills. Our brains can be devoted to the new idea while playing a piece we already know well. Once a piece is in review, we can further polish by adding more nuance like balance, shaping, tempo, and more.
- Previewing new material – almost everything we do in Suzuki Book 1 is getting us ready for Suzuki book 7 and beyond. For example, the pattern in Honeybee of D-E-F-D is repeated in so many pieces in our Suzuki repertoire that it becomes second nature to students. A swift scan of the books reveals the pattern in: Book 1: Christmas Day Secrets (Dutton), Allegro (Suzuki), Book 2: Arietta (Mozart), Book 3: Vivace, Op 36 #1 (Clementi), Allegro Op. 55 #1 (Kuhlau), Book 5: Old French Song (Tchaikowsky), Invention #1 (JS Bach), The Cuckoo (Daquin), Book 6: Rondo, K545 (Mozart), Nocturne (Grieg), Spanish Dance #5 (Granados), Book 7: Alla Turca, K330 (Mozart), Prelude & Fugue in D (Bach), Romanian Folk Dances (Bartok).
- Flow – In the book The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle*, the author discusses various “talent hotbeds” of training (like Brazilian soccer, Russian tennis, Julliard musicians, etc.). While these training centers certainly have programs and routines that cover various technical drills, another important aspect of training is allowing athletes (or musicians) to play the game (or piece) with little to no interruptions. In the “flow” of playing, students learn how to work through errors, retrieve important information, and experience joy and accomplishment. Flow is empowering! I’ve seen students who learn to “play through” their music apply it to other skills away from the instrument.
- Transcend Your Instrument & make music! – I love what cellist Yo-Yo Ma says about learning an instrument “One of the purposes of learning how to play an instrument really well is so that you can go beyond the instrument. Sure, you’re playing the bass, you’re playing the mandolin, you’re playing the cello. But you actually want to transcend that instrument so that you don’t hear instrument, but rather you’re hearing music.” This sums up what many of us are looking for when we sign our children up for music lessons: helping children to express themselves, to have an emotional outlet to express a variety of personal emotions.
Reviewing is a great tool that helps us meet our goals of happy, healthy, expressive, joyful playing.
*P.S. If you are interested, I have a copy of this amazing book available for loan. Or maybe your library has it!