The science behind practicing effectively

Posted on: March 10, 2017

“Practice is a physical activity, of course, but it’s also hard mental work—if you’re doing it right,” writes Anastasia Tsioulcas on Monday (3/6) at NPR. “A new video published by TED Ed gets down to the scientific nitty-gritty of what good practice looks like, and what it does to your brain. (Think axons and myelin, not ‘muscle memory’—muscles don’t have ‘memory.’) As Annie Bosler and Don Greene, the creators of this TED Ed lesson, point out, this advice can apply to everything from music to sports. They define effective practice as ‘consistent, intensely focused and target[ing] content or weaknesses that lie at the edge of one’s current abilities.’ That’s another way of saying: Don’t waste your time practicing the stuff you already know…. More of their specific advice, with each point bolstered by research: Focus at the task on hand. Shut off all those digital distractions….. Start out slowly, or in slow motion.… Do what many pros do: split your practice time into smaller, super-concentrated chunks…. Visualize playing your music without actually playing it…. Their advice about practicing isn’t new…. But having a better understanding why and how it works is inspiring — and helps you reinforce good habits.”

Posted March 10, 2017