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I am following the lessons from a finger-style blues book. I have completed practice lessons "A" "B" and currently at "C". When I was practicing "A" I could be able to play it perfectly most of the time. Say 8 times out of 10. Same for "B" and now when I am practicing "C" when I try to play "A" I can play it properly only for about 30% of time. Should I go back to "A" and practice it again to the perfection or continue with "C" and move on?

When I mean I cannot play "A" I mean I forget which note to play after what. My fingering is almost perfect, that is to say I hardly make mistake plucking right string with right finger or alternate base.

What is the general Idea you follow? Perfect something then move on or play it good enough and move on.

NOTE: "A" "B" and "C" are similar and its not necessarily the other chapters depend on any of them except thumb independence and proper fingering.

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This question is related and might give further guidance: music.stackexchange.com/questions/6910/… –  Ulf Åkerstedt Apr 19 '13 at 21:37
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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Presumably you're doing this practice in order to learn the skills involved in the exercise. If you move on and lose the skill, the whole endeavour was pointless. Even an 80% reproduction rate is pretty low so I don't think you are getting good enough at the exercise before moving on. Of course this depends on how absolute your definition of "perfect" is.

Once you've mastered something you should need to practice it more and more infrequently in order to maintain your skill. You might go from every day to every other day, to once a week, to once a month, to once every other month over the course of a year. If at any point you feel that you are going backwards, you ought to increase the frequency of your refresher practice and try not to decrease it as quickly next time.

Eventually your skills will be so ingrained that they are effectively permanent; as long as you keep up other forms of practice so that your muscles and brain are sharp you should be able to use one of these ingrained skills without even thinking about it.

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The exact problem I am currently facing is changing from E to B7 chord shape quickly. I do practice the piece everyday but should I stop and perfect it or move to the next exercises (With some time for the older exercises as well) which does not involve B7 and eventually changing to B7 will come easier to me. –  Tanmoy Apr 16 '13 at 8:12
    
@Tanmoy Ah, I see. That's not the simplest of chord changes so if you feel the need to start with something easier and work up to it then that could certainly be a good idea. –  Matthew Read Apr 16 '13 at 14:26
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If you wait to truly master something before moving on, it will take literally forever to make much progress. Once you've learned something fairly well, it's good to take the next step. It's also good to come back to things again and again. I've found that with most learning, it's a process of 2 steps forward one step back. This let's you keep learning new things and keep improving the basics too.

In deciding whether something has been practiced enough, it really depends on what you're practicing it for. Often times with my students, I will let them pass of piece of music even if it's got a bunch of problems, so long as they've learned the thing I wanted them to learn. But, if you're practicing something that you will do in a performance, you need to ask yourself whether you'd be comfortable doing it in front of other people.

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This answer is also good but I have to chose only one :) but I will follow this advice as well and move to the next lesson whenever I feel I am satisfied :) –  Tanmoy Apr 16 '13 at 15:48
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