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Why you should start learning at the end

Musicians with plenty of experience can often play a new piece of music by sight. You put the music in front of them and off they go. Musicians who are still in the early days of learning will not have the skills to do this. Let's look at a different way to learn a new piece of music - starting at the end!

Learning a piece by starting at the end

Most people start with the first note on the first line. There are only 12 languages in the world that are read from right to left (they include Arabic, Hebrew and Urdu). Traditionally, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean are read from top to bottom and right to left. This means the majority of us read left to right, so we naturally read, and start practicing, music in the same way.

The biggest problem with this method is that the next note is always one you haven't played, within this piece, before!

Why start at the end?

There are five, maybe even 6, key reasons why you should start practicing a new piece of music at the end:

  1. You are always playing music you’ve already started learning.

  2. You're not sight-reading ahead.

  3. You don't start practicing wrong notes into your performance. Muscle memory can be a bad, as well as a good, thing.

  4. There is no temptation to continue playing the next section - that you haven't practiced.

  5. This allows your brain to learn in the easiest way - by repetition of the correct notes.

Finally, this is a very well-used technique by a great many professional musicians.

How to practice new music from the end first

It really is very simple:

  1. Start with the very last note or chord

  2. Then add the preceding note

  3. Add a little at a time until you are at the beginning

  4. Use Make it Easy and Take it Easy techniques along with this method

The result is that you will enjoy practice more as you make faster progress and play more accurately.

What will you get from practicing this way?

Practicing from the end first will help you to learn faster. You will play the piece more accurately and your knowledge of the piece will be far better.

Starting in different places, as you work backwards, trains your mind, giving you greater familiarity with the piece. Perhaps the biggest benefit from this is that it is far easier to then pick up again, should you make a mistake or lose your place when performing.

What to do next

Simple. Grab a piece of music that you have been struggling with. Pop it onto your music stand and flick your eyes right and down, to the last note. Setting up practice sessions in the Sweetnote App will further help you to learn faster and have fun with your musical instrument.

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