Recitals and concerts are very important points in the learning process. They solidify and accelerate the learning because their importance makes them memorable, and the connection between the preparation and the performance becomes internalized.

What is important after a recital is to utilize the learning from the recital by transferring the ability into the new pieces. In the Book Intelligent Music Teaching*  Robert Duke explains the concept of transfer:

“The Application of acquired knowledge and skills in situations other than those in which the knowledge and skills were originally learned is called transfer of learning.”

He discusses the importance of educators always asking themselves the question “Why is it important for students to learn this now?” By teaching and emphasizing only the most important point at a given point in time in the learning process, students are able to learn the fundamental skill that will transfer into the new pieces. This of course involves repetition of the specific skill.

Just now the students can play Twinkles with good ready, good posture, good technique, and good tone. As you can see from the lessons this week I will continue to ask them to improve their Twinkle technique. It is also time to transfer their ability to the pieces in Book 1. The repertoire is uniquely suited to developing ability because the pieces contain multiple opportunities to transfer the knowledge and gain fluency through this process. You may notice when your child is learning a new piece that their sound is now legato even when they are just learning the notes, and that their hand position is naturally above the keyboard. We can facilitate this transfer by helping them discover similarities and pointing out times when you observe them using skills from a previous piece on the newer pieces.

The transfer of ability into the next piece, the next book, the next level of complexity, is through the process of fostering, nurturing, natural learning, and critical to ability development.

This last week I worked on keeping the “thumb up” with some of the students. This is only one small point but allows the whole hand to stay over the keys and the fingers to be able to move. The new pieces coming up -Clair de Lune, Long Ago and Little Playmates all start on the thumb so this is the appropriate time to solidify this ability and spot the beginnings of the pieces.

How the students are learning the left hand is another good example of the use of transfer. They “know” how they are supposed to hold the arm and move their fingers, but the physical skill has to be developed. So, in this case the contextual similarity of the right hand and left hand will enable them to acquire the ability much more quickly than when they learned the right hand. That said, since the students are right handed the left hand may require more development to become fluid. Repetition is the important key here.
Dr. Duke says about repetition:

“Through consistent, productive repetition over time, the physical and intellectual habits of musicianship become learned to the point that they are somewhat automatic and require less and less conscious though on the part of the learner. All competent musicians have skills in their repertoire that have been rehearsed to a level of automaticity that requires little effort or thought. For example, when it’s time to play, the body and the instrument “go to playing position” without a great deal of thought on the part of the performer.”

Contextual differences are important too. Pieces that have the same rhythmic feeling at the beginning such as Go Tell Aunt Rody and French Children’s Song, but have different pitches develop learning of similarities and differences. Long Long Ago and Clair de Lune together teach this same concept of similarities and differences because they both start on the same note and both go up at the beginning of the melody, but have different rhythms.
The optimum environment for human beings to learn and to transfer that learning into ability arises out these abilities which have become internalized. Eckart Tolle, author of A new Earth and The Power of Now says:

“Do you think that when Rembrandt was painting, he stood there with a brush in his hand thinking, “Okay, I wonder what my next brushstroke is going to be. If I put it there then it may clash with that. I’m not quite sure, but maybe two more centimeters to the right, let’s measure it. It might look better over . . .” Creativity arises out of the state of thoughtless presence in which you are much more awake than when you are engrossed in thinking.”

This kind of awareness/ability is taught through helping students transfer knowledge/ability from one situation or piece to the next. Again Dr. Duke says:

“If the goal of education is that students learn to use knowledge and skills effectively in the future, even in unfamiliar circumstances, then transfer must be defined as the goal of instruction.”

As we continue to learn piece by piece we are focusing on core ability development that is transferable immediately in the new piece. accessible as a habit/ability that we use spontaneously.

For Further Research:
Google Scholar search on Transfer in Learning – The first article listed from International Encyclopedia of Education is a good general description.

*Intelligent Music Teaching by Dr. Robert Duke, director of the Center for Music Learning at The University of Texas at Austin:

Other Twinkle Posts I have written on Ability Development:

Ability Development and Pattern Recognition
Ability Development and the Growth Mindset

Lesson before the recital:

Twinkle Students Recital performances: