• Chris Caton-Greasley

Learning Styles and Strategies

We all know that practice is the right thing to do, but when to practice is something that is discussed less often. Taking a lesson and practising at home involves short term and working memory. The correct practice enables the information to transfer to long term memory just like practising riding your bike ensured you will never forget how. The website Understood.org summarises working memory as follows

  • Working memory is like a temporary sticky note in the brain.

  • It is a skill that lets us work with information without losing track of what we are doing.

  • Kids and adults who learn and think differently often struggle with working memory. (Redford, MA, n.d.)

We often hear or speak of short-term memory alongside working memory studies have shown that these parts of the brain overlap but are significantly different. Short term memory is often seen as where information is held for a very short space of time. Practising as soon as you reach home helps move this information to the working memory area. This is where the information is learnt, until it is known well enough to become long term memory.


We invite parents to stay in lessons with their children to help the recall at home. If you would like to video any part of the lesson or take photos, please let your teacher know. Parents who are involved can be the 'music teacher's helper at home'. This also means you can learn alongside your child by practising the same music.


To help strengthen the items completed in the lesson ensure you run through everything once before the end of the day to check you understand it. If you find the information does not make much sense, contact reception and we will arrange extra resources for you to help with the practice.


If you become confused or that there is a problem with learning. We can help you with strategies to help with the memory recall or work out a system to break down concepts into smaller steps. When we break down something into smaller steps, we can show the learning strategy for you to repeat at home. The Institute of Education Sciences state that a strategy is a tool, plan or method used to accomplish an understanding of music in a method that works for the learner, as opposed to the way the teacher presents it. (Team, 2002)


When you are in the lesson the information you receive is retained in the short-term memory. The brain, with the first practice, transfers it to the working memory. Sometimes this information can be packaged in a mixed-up way, like when you pack your case for a holiday too fast, students who think differently are more likely to need help unpacking and repacking the information in a way that works for them. You can find further information about this on the website understood.org


I often hear parents and grandparents say that they used to play a musical instrument. This sentence is often based around the presentation of the information and not on the learner’s reception. Very often too difficult is because the steps were too far apart, or the information was not presented in a way that understood the different ways people learn. Over the years a lot has been learnt in this field of music pedagogy.


to follow

Reference list Caton-Greasley, C. (2021). Learning Styles and Strategies. [online] Chris at the Piano. Available at: https://www.chrisatthepiano.com/post/learning-styles-and-strategies [Accessed 14 Jun. 2021].

Redford, MA, K. (n.d.). Strategy instruction: What you need to know. [online] www.understood.org. Available at: https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/for-educators/universal-design-for-learning/what-is-strategy-instruction [Accessed 14 Jun. 2021].

Team, E.D. (2002). ED474302 2002-12-00 Strategy Instruction. ERIC Digest. [online] https://www.eric.ed.gov/, Arlington VA: ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education, p.2. Available at: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED474302.pdf [Accessed 14 Jun. 2021].

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