What Every Musician Ought to Know About Repetition

“Repetition of the same thought or physical action develops into a habit which, repeated frequently enough, becomes an automatic reflex.” – Norman Vincent Peale

Repetition isn’t necessarily attractive. The thought of playing the same notes, the same rhythms, the same patterns over and over isn’t inspiring.

However, sometimes it is the simple, unglamorous things that will make a big difference in the long run. This is especially true for musicians.

Those who can commit themselves to the process will eventually exceed at their craft. Their desire to become a better player, to be able to pull off flashy tricks and play like a pro can be achieved through diligence and persistence.

If you have trouble focusing and staying on task in your practice sessions, it’s important to consider why that occurs.

Why Repetition Is So Hard

Repetition is oftentimes brainless work that’s anything but stimulating. Boredom can cause people to stop what they’re doing and turn to something else that’s more interesting.

That does not change the fact that consistent repetition can have a significant impact on one’s playing; especially in the long term. The benefits cannot easily be denied.

Repeating a musical phrase over and over is challenging because an undisciplined mind tends to wander. However, it is possible to cope with these challenges.

How To Overcome Boredom And Distraction

It may be necessary to cultivate personal discipline in order to overcome boredom issues.

For example, if you are in the habit of multitasking and trying to complete a dozen different tasks in a single day, you may need to start a new habit of prioritizing your activities, ranking your to-do list in order of importance, and tackling each item until it’s done. This will serve to instill a more focused mode of operation.

There are, however, simpler ways of beating the boredom trap.

You could set a timer and practice a single phrase for a set amount of time. When the time is up, you could find another phrase or chord or rhythmic pattern to repeat. It doesn’t necessarily need to be long stretches of time. You could change things up every 10 to 15 minutes. Constantly rotating exercises will help curtail monotony.

As you are practicing a specific scale or exercise, you could also be thinking about the technical details of what you are playing. For example, you could be thinking about what notes you are playing. You could be thinking about how what you are currently learning applies to other things you’ve already learned. Making these connections is important, because if you can’t apply what you’ve learned, you haven’t really mastered it.

Ultimately, you also need to stay focused on the prize. What will the results of consistent practice be? Eventually, you will learn to be able to do everything that you once hoped to be able to do on your instrument.


Learning to play some of your favorite songs or tricks may not be as hard as you think. The only thing separating you from the players you love is time and repetition. As you make repetition a greater focus of your practice (in moderation, of course, as too much repetition can cause injury), you will see the progress that you want to see more quickly.