PRACTICE PERFECT RULE #7: DIFFERENTIATE DRILL FROM SCRIMMAGE

Mr. Matlock, “Can we please just sing through the whole song today?” Some students don’t understand the difference between scrimmage and drill. On the other hand, sometimes when a student asks the above question I practiceperfectknow that I have drilled them “in the ground” and need something to  freshen up rehearsal — time to modify the drills. Designing the drills and learning sequence to a successful performance of a piece of music is something I enjoy — and many times wish I had more time to devote to preparatory work.  

Important lesson here for private voice and piano students. DON’T JUST RUN THROUGH YOUR PIECES  Plan your rehearsal/practice sessions. Decide on a progression of drills that will result in knowing your piece and developing the necessary skills. 

  1. Use drills to distort the game and focus intensively on development of one or several skills.
  2. Use scrimmages to evaluate your readiness for performance.
  3. Recognize that scrimmaging is generally less efficient as a teaching tool.
  4. Recognize that success in scrimmage is the best indicator of true mastery–participants can perform a skill when the time and place of its application is unpredictable.
  5. Consider using a sequence of drills that integrate new skills with previously mastered skills before–or in lieu of–scrimmage.


“A graduated practice is what sets the champion coaches in all fields apart from the merely good.”  Step by step. 

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Johnny Matlock 217 West 24th Street Hays, Kansas 67601 Phone: 785-623-1412 Email: matlockjc@gmail.com