That's a huge concept for growing dancers. Some moves start out difficult, but after repeating them hundreds of times, they become second nature. Repetition is the mother of all learning.
Of course, this applies to dance moves, music, sports, new languages, computer programming or virtually any other subject you decide to learn. No matter how you slice it, repetition is the mother of all learning.
Too few repetitions and it doesn't stick. Repeat it many times and it does. It's deceptively simple and very powerful if applied correctly.
How many guys have you heard complaining, "I don't remember those patterns" or "I can't remember the moves from class" or "I can do that slow, but once the music starts I can't remember that sequence." I suspect you can guess why.
My early drum teacher told me over thirty years ago; "If you can't do it effortlessly in a performance, you haven't practiced enough."
He was constantly reminding me that quality practice (repetition) was a requirement for excellence. One of the few excuses he allowed me to use when I couldn't do an exercise was, "I didn't practice that enough." I didn't like hearing it as a teenager, but over time his words stuck in my head and I realized he was absolutely right.
How many times do you repeat a new move before you own it? In some case, it may be a few times and others it will be hundreds or thousands of repetitions or more. The "few times" is an exception, and often the result of something you previous learned. In most cases it's hundreds or thousands of repetitions before things become mindless.
Newer dancers often under estimate how many times advanced dancers practice a move. That practice may have been on the dance floor, but owning a move is often the result of countless repetitions, over many months or more.
You forever see guys trying new moves with minimal practice because they see the more advanced dancers doing something similar. The advanced dancers make it look so easy, it's not obvious they repeated a sequence hundreds of times to make it look so comfortable.
If you want to learn a move, remember a pattern, step or feeling, do it over and over again, with attention to detail. Do it at different speeds, from painfully slow to burning fast. It's not magic, but it is a process.
Repetition is the mother of all learning, but be sure you are repeating things you actually want to learn. Mindless repetition, without refinement makes it easy to learn bad habits if you're not careful, so work toward repeating the habits, moves and patterns you want to master.
This isn't news to you, but this concept applies directly to your mastering the music.
Over a year ago I wrote an article titled "Listening to Music 100 Times or more" and it documents some of my experience with repeating music hundreds of times.
Repetition is not the only factor is learning, but it's a key factor and often under appreciated.
Let me know your experiences with repetition via the comments link below. And don't forget; repetition is the mother of all learning.
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We know too much for one man to know much.
-- Robert Oppenheimer
Originally published in Jan 2009. It's been tweaked before this re-publish.