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Timothy's blog on dulcimers, music, nature and life!

The great value of 'Repeat One'

The great value of 'Repeat One'

One of the great advantages of digital recordings --- CDs, .mp3s, etc. --- is that you can set up playback for shuffle/random, for repeating an album or playlist, or for repeating one track.

That last one, repeating a single track, is wonderful for getting your fill of a favorite piece without having to hit the ‘return’ button each time (or in the case of magnetic tapes of all kinds, setting zero and rewinding to it); but I also find tremendous value in the ‘repeat one’ feature of any playback system: for learning something new!

If I’m needing to learn a new tune from someone’s album (or especially from an instructional CD that comes with a tune book), I can just play it as much as I need for familiarity’s sake, and I can play along to get the notes into my hands, or to memorize words, or to get the flow of the timing just right.

And here’s another big use of ‘repeat one’: practicing how to improvise new parts to go with a piece.  I remember when I was a teenager in the 1960s and was wanting to develop my improvising skills, I’d put on a vinyl LP of a track I liked, and I’d play flute or guitar ideas of all kinds, exploring and making horrible mistakes and running across ideas that I liked --- and then lifting the needle and putting it back at the start of the track and trying some more ideas, and doing it again and again, feeling my improvisational structures developing in my mind and hands.  Invaluable!

But now with the digital ‘repeat one’ capability, there are no rewinds or needle-liftings --- just a constant repetition that I can practice or improvise along with till I really feel like I have some kind of mastery of the new material or creative ideas.

If you’re a musician, you’ve got to use this technique!  Please, please, please try it!  You’ll probably be amazed at the new proficiency you’ll experience.

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