Repetition Repetition Repetition

A kata would normally be considered as something to do with martial arts. Originating in Japan, kata is a word meaning form. Often associated with karate you would also see them performed in kendo and judo. A Kata is a series of choreographed combined technques.

I remember doing them in karate as a child and wondering what on earth was going on. I just want to learn how to kick and punch but never really understood the concept behind a kata. However, thinking back and reflecting on them now I can see that it gives the practitioner confidence with a number of different techniques.

Moving forward to today, the word kata has started to be adopted as a more figurative term. If we lift what martial artists do and apply it to learning piano (or any musical instrument but I’m biased) it can help us move forward.

Repetition is what helps us to learn our music and related techniques. Too often we don’t practice passages enough. How often have you practiced until you play a passage once, pat yourself on the back and move on to something else? Be honest 😂

When I am practicing I use an abacus type tool. Very similar but I use dice. I’ll sit 10 dice to the left and play a short passage that I’ve been working on. If I play it correctly, I pass one dice to the right. Each time I play a passage correctly I move another dice across. If I get something wrong I move all the dice back to the left again. Yes… even if I’m on my 10th attempt at a correct play-through.

This requires a lot of focus and discipline. If you’re going to try it I suggest starting with 5 dice or whatever you deicde to use. Also, don’t try this at fast tempo. Take your time.

In summary, getting a passage correct once isn’t enough. We must practice getting the passage correct several times through repetition (kata) until it feels easy for us. Then it’s time to move on. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Free top 10 tips to effective practice

10 top tips and our newsletter.