Music Ed Mondays – “Whatever Gets Repeated…”

“Whatever gets repeated, gets remembered.”

– Michael Brandon

This simple sentence blew my mind during my second year of teaching, which was the year that Michael Brandon came to our school. He and I teach the Instrumental and Academic areas of our Music Program – yes, it can be more than just Band, Choir and Drama, but more on that in another post.

While we don’t team teach very often, we try and connect about our classes as often as possible. The notable exception is during Period 4, where he has Senior Concert Band and I have my prep, so we can both be in the Band Room at the same time. The process of watching another teacher teach is one of the best professional development opportunities one can have and I get it every other day during Period 4.

During one of his first months at the school, he was working a concept and a student blurted out: “We already did that!” And while that was true, he replied with a gem that never left me: “Yes, whatever gets repeated, gets remembered.”

I get that it’s the foundation of review and that review reinforces the learning of prior skills and concepts, but it’s really so much more than that: It’s why children share similar views of their parents, it’s why so many kids give in to peer pressure around them (one of many reasons, actually) and it’s why we get caught up in our own echo chambers of thinking.

“Whatever gets repeated, gets remembered.”

In Music, but especially in Band, we’ll work a part, then say “yep, good, moving on,” but those kids have only done it correctly once as opposed to doing it many times incorrectly. A few classes later, we’ll go back to rehearse that section and that same mistake will creep up again, then we’ll get frustrated and say “didn’t we fix that a few classes ago?”

Well yeah, we did, but we only fixed it once.

My old euphonium teacher in my first year of university often said “you can’t break a habit, you just have to replace it with a stronger one.” I think that there’s a lot of truth in that and if we only fix something once, we aren’t replacing that habit of doing it incorrectly.

Lately, I’ve been identifying problem spots in the repertoire and getting kids to do it right four or five times, but it has to be correct every single time because we’re not “fixing” it, we’re replacing the habit. Then, we’ll come back to it the next class and check it again and if we have to keep drilling-the-skill, then that’s fine – whatever gets repeated, gets remembered.

Now, let’s move that into our behaviour on the podium (or in the classroom, it’s the same concept): Are we modelling leadership qualities to kids? Are we being the best moral human beings we can be? How are we dealing with our tough kids? Or our sports kids? Or our academically strong kids? Or our weaker ones? Our loud ones? Or quiet ones?

As teachers, we’re always on display and we carry an institutional gravitas that puts us in a position to inspire and them in one to subscribe to what we have to say. To be said another way, it’s not just how we interact with them verbally, it’s also the way that we communicate with them as other human beings.

Whether it’s what we say or how we say it, it really can’t be said enough – whatever gets repeated, gets remembered. Maya Angelou had a nice one-liner that said a similar thing…

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Isn’t that so true? Let’s communicate honestly, openly and authentically with kids so that they have both a person and an institution to look up to and let’s do it consistently.

Whatever gets repeated, gets remembered 🙂

Until next time,

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