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How Many Times? The BIG Repeating QUESTION when practicing!

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

By Christy | the Practicing Pro

You pick up your instrument and you’re all ready to have an amazing and very focused practice. You know that the best practice happens when you drill each of those tricky spots many times, and very slow. BUT HOW MANY TIMES???

Game of War analogy:

I used to play the card game WAR for hours when I was a kid. Each player gets half of a deck of cards. You flip over one card at a time and lay them in front of you on the table at the exact same time.

The person with the higher number wins both cards.

In his case, the 6 would win and both cards would go to the winner.

When you are learning something new, count the number of times that it takes you to learn to play it correctly, and keep repeating it until it also feels easy. Then choose a number that’s higher. That's your absolute lowest repetition number!

How does this help you know how many times you repeat?

If the loser (the bad guy) is the 5 in our case, and the winner (the good guy) is the 6 then this time it was VERY CLOSE!

In practicing we want a BIG win for best results. Like a 10 over a 5!

If it takes you 5 times to learn and play your drill spot easily then repeat it a minimum of 6 times. BUT if you repeat it 10 or 14 times it will be an even more EPIC practice.

This is how you learn your new pieces really FAST and have them super solid! TAKE CONTROL and make sure the “good guy” is WINNING BY A LOT!

Practice this week repeating your new sections with “The Game of War” in mind.

Most common repetition mistake:

Most players practice something “until they get it”. Let's say that it took 5 times until you can play it. Don’t stop! Keep going! It takes you another 4 times until you get it and it seems easy to play. Now, that’s the number you count for the bad guy. Think of that as the bad guy's card. 5 to get it, then 4 until it’s easy, that equals 9! To make an EPIC WIN over a 9 you want to now repeat it twice that number. So 18 more times!

What's too many times?

If you are always getting high numbers (7 or higher) for your “first bad guy card” this means your practicing nugget is TOO LONG and/or TOO FAST. Make it smaller and slow it down so that you can play it perfectly and make it easy in 5-6 repetitions. Then your “good guy card” will be 10-12 times and that’s perfect!

If you do need to repeat something more than 10-12 times do it EXTRA slow and split it into two sessions. Do half of the repetitions, play a review/upgrade song, in the same key if possible, and then finish the other half afterward.

Playing cards chart:

Here’s my Cards repetition chart to count up 13 amazing practice days. REPEAT and drill each of your practice spots so that they are all an “EPIC good guy WIN” each practice.

To keep track of your practice spots and where they are in your pieces use my Play cards daily practice chart.

Celebrate with a games night:

Have fun and celebrate finishing your chart by having a games night. Get some good treats and play a card game. Here are a few of my favorites if you want to celebrate and try a new one!

INVITATION from Christy Hodder:

There you have it! My Playing card repetition chart and how to know how many repetitions to do when practicing.

I promise that this method of GAME OF WAR repeating will give you the fastest results. Remember DONT STOP when “you've gotten it” then the bad guy is winning. Keep going and repeat it “perfect and easy” twice as many times as it took you to get it and make it easy. You can do it! Make this a life long practicing habit. This method will bring you success and joy in your home practices.

Free PDF download

Checklist for an Amazing Music Practice

Your easy checklist to have successful home music practices from Christy, the practicing pro. Whether you are a new or seasoned practice parent this checklist will help you organize before, during, and after practices for effective and fun practices.

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(Here are some QUICK affiliate links on Amazon for all of the supplies you might need to make it easier for you.

I do not work for Amazon but if you ever purchase anything from Amazon via a link from this site, I receive a small commission at no cost to you. It will help pay for this program to continue. Thank you.)

Some of my favorite card games:


I brought only one game with me when I went to a village in Kenya to teach children there. Simply because it's the best card game ever!!! Most fun with 3 or more players so that you can use the “change direction card”


Golf is so fun to play! You play nine rounds (holes) and the person who has the lowest score at the end is the winner.

Avenger Playing cards:

Unicorn Playing cards:


This is a fun fast game. Put down cards and find the pairs the fastest! There are different ways to play this game so you can play it again with different rules!


This is an addictive game where you make combinations of sushi and you match them. Of Course, making homemade Sushi together or picking some up makes this Celebration night even more fun!

See Sushi Go Practice Challenge (another Blog Post coming soon!)

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