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Learning As Sequences
What is the thirteenth letter of the alphabet? Do you know the alphabet backwards? What is the thirteenth letter of the alphabet when starting from the end?
Most of us have learned the alphabet as a sequence and have a tendency to repeatedly recall it within the same sequence rather than experiencing each letter as a distinct entity to be retrieved when its place in the sequence is given. We only know it from one direction. We don't yet know it forwards, backwards, and at any point in-between.
Likewise, sometimes when learning Songs, we only condition the playing of the Song into muscle memory and "play it back" in a sense. We may not be able to tell what is in each Measure when given the number of the Measure, or be able to pick it up from that section without some Sheet Music in front of us as a reference.
A similar problem arises from practicing things like Scales and Chords as specific sequences without variation. There are very few occasions in which we might play something as a list, but oftentimes, we try to practice Scales and Chords in this way rather than in the ways in which they are actually applied (i.e.: within the context of musical pieces).
Thankfully, there are a couple of great resources for studying music theory in the context of musical pieces:
• For "Classical Music" there is musictheoryexamples.com
• For "Pop Music" there is hooktheory.com
Hopefully, these ideas and resources can help to make your practice feel more like play rather than drudgery.
Thank you for reading!