Before discussing whether or not you should perfect a lesson before moving on, you need to know how to choose the right lesson. While practicing a lesson to perfection, there will always be new techniques and concepts learned along the way. If not, the lesson is probably too easy for you or doesn’t match your skill level.
The ideal lesson to learn is something at your ‘edge’, where the task is hard enough to be a challenge, but not so hard that you become anxious, and not so easy that it becomes boring. It’s different for everyone, so we recommend playing lessons at a grade that is a little bit harder than you think you can play.
Perfecting a song.
Once you’ve found a lesson that suits your skill level, you should learn the lesson to a certain level of perfection. You’ll be surprised at what skills you’ll unintentionally discover, and moving on to something new too soon might mean you miss out on these valuable learning opportunities.
The other benefit of perfecting a lesson is that it takes time, which means you’ll be practicing certain skills and ingraining them into your arsenal of techniques and musical ideas. It’ll be much easier to call upon these techniques and apply them to new material or your own music production.
Don’t practice until you get it right; practice until you can’t get it wrong.
Most people will start a lesson by learning the notes, but there’s a lot more to music than just melody or rhythm. With enough practice the notes will become second nature, and you’ll be able to focus more on the subtle nuances of the track instead. For example, you can work on ‘feeling the music’ rather than just playing the right notes, or you might develop a different way of playing a musical passage that makes it easier.
But what is perfection, and how do you know when to stop? Everyone’s level of perfection is different, and the more you practice the sooner you will find yours. There aren’t many musicians who can say they have ever had a perfect performance, so it’s important to remember that we are human, after all. Don’t strive for perfection before moving on – practice new material, but keep revisiting these songs to continue improving and perfecting them over time.
We recommend practicing a song until it flows naturally. Once you can play a song without focusing too much on the notes, you’re on your way to perfection. Test yourself by looking away from the screen, and really getting into the ‘feel’ of the music. If you can do this and still get three stars on the lesson, it’s time to step it up.
Learning new songs.
While perfecting your abilities is important, there are also many important benefits to learning new skills at the same time. Once you’re comfortable playing a lesson, start learning something new, but keep revisiting that lesson that you’re striving for perfection on.
Perfection takes time, but practicing one lesson over and over can become stale which can actually be detrimental to your progress. Your brain needs time for new skills to sink in, and learning new songs helps to refresh your mind. You might find that after taking a break, you can come back to a lesson and play it even better than before.
It’s important to satisfy your curiosity. Discovering new lessons and music is a part of your development as a musician – but our brains can only handle so much new material, so limit yourself to 2-3 lessons at a time.
Practicing multiple lessons at once teaches you how certain musical concepts fit into the wider world of music. If you’re learning about harmony, for example, learning different lessons at the same time will give you context as to how harmonies work within different styles of music.
Another benefit to learning new lessons is that it will improve your sight-reading skills. Sight-reading is the ability to play songs that you’ve never seen before. This skill can only be learned by playing new lessons, so the more lessons you play the easier learning will become.
Don’t overexert yourself.
Whether you’re learning a new skill or perfecting a song, it’s important to play within yourself. Our brains can only handle so much new information or repetition – so keep revisiting lessons, take breaks, and limit yourself to learning 2-3 lessons and a time.
There are benefits to both learning new songs and perfecting them. Striving for perfection will help you become a better musician – you will discover new skills and concepts along the way. The best pathway to perfection is patience – so keep your mind fresh and learn new material at the same time.