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In this section we'll discover how checklists can transform how you learn complex skills, so that you can maintain consistency by building good habits across all aspects of your violin playing.


What's Automaticity? It is the ability to do things without occupying the mind with the low-level details required. Achieving automaticity for any given skill, allows you to develop an automatic response pattern or habit. It is usually the result of learning, repetition, and practice!

Automaticity is what people are referring to when they talk about training. If you're 'well-trained' to do something, it means you're experienced enough to carry out a set of actions reliably - even in a high-pressured, difficult or unexpected situation. It works because the 'good habits' that you developed during your training will activate, and override any other instincts that you have for dealing with the situation.

A good example of this is how people working in the transport industry (planes, ships, etc.) are trained in emergency evacuation procedures. The natural human 'fight or flight' response would be to try and run from danger as quickly as possible. But through emergency training drills, aircraft cabin crew and ship stewards prepare themselves not to panic, but instead to fall back on well-rehearsed procedures for evacuating passengers according to a pre-planned route.

Here's a pilot speaking about how to use a checklist:

Checklists are so useful because they ensure that you ALWAYS follow every step in the checklist, eliminating errors, even for tasks you're already familiar with and have done hundreds or even thousands of times. Unexpected distractions or losses of concentration can cause people to make mistakes even with tasks they are ultra-familiar with, which is what makes checklists so extraordinarily powerful.

After a certain number of repetitions, checklists will start to become automatic. If you've learnt to drive for example, you will have experienced this after a few months of driving... suddenly, all the mantras that driving instructors teach as a reminder for each set of actions (e.g. 'mirror, signal, manoeuvre) will be come instinctive, and you won't need to remind yourself with the words anymore.

Your first few repetitions will be disproportionately influential on your muscle habits! So make sure that you repeat every action in the RIGHT way when you first get started!