Greg and I are always interested in how to practice more efficiently for ourselves (we don't have much time) and our students (so many after school activities!). In my research we discovered some cool things about when to practice and what to practice.
We often tell our students to chunk their pieces- it helps to learn smaller sections and get better at those then to do the whole piece over and over again. The research says that chunking your piece helps with remembering your piece better.
Apparently the best time to CHANGE chunks is just before you feel like you're getting it right or it feels comfortable. The reasoning is it is better for your brain to retrieve the chunk if you mix it up. Retrieving material needs to be done again and again so that your brain has to do some work and it's not just automatic. This requires concentration which is GOOD for our students who have difficulty doing passages again and again and again and again - they start to let their mind go on vacation and it becomes harder and harder. With this method they do it just until they've almost got it (maybe 2 times in a row without error) and then we move on to another chunk and repeat the process. When it comes time to play that original chunk again, students are concentrating just because they HAVE to.
My students will be happy with this change of practice and I know I'll be happier when I use it too! What are your thoughts?