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Magic Choral Trick #125 24 Hours – That’s All This Phrase Has Got

The subject of 24 hour memory comes up quite a lot in the private lessons I teach, and nowhere is it more obvious than at kids’ piano lessons.

Here’s what seems to be true.

Once a musical correction is made, unless it’s reinforced within the next 24 hours, the body/subconscious thinks that this new information is unimportant and lets it go.

So I tell my students that I want them to practise 5 days in the coming week. (I know, only 5 – perhaps I’m not enough of an ogre.) The kicker is that the first 2 days have to be tomorrow and the day after. If they wait longer than that, their brains and their hands seem to forget all of the work we’ve done at the lesson, and they spend the rest of the week catching up to where they were at the end of the lesson, rather than building on what they achieved.

Experience has taught me that the same is even more true for adult choirs. Certainly my memory is nothing like it used to be, but if I do some intensive work for a couple of days in a row, I can move whatever it is that I’ve learned into muscle memory. Once my body takes over from my brain, that information is there to stay.

I often record a couple of songs at rehearsal, then email out the sound files the next day and ask for feedback. Most choir members are interested in hearing what they sounded like, so at the very least, everyone is listening (within 24 hours) to the end result of the rehearsal – and being reminded of any changes. Even the act of listening to the changes reinforces to the brain that this information is worth remembering.

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