The first inspired idea about deep music practice I got from Grassapelli was the 100 times repetition of a tune. I resisted the discipline. My thing was improvisation. I didn’t want to play the same tune 100 times in a row without a side trip to another tune.
Besides, having played Bluegrass for several years, I had got into the habit of faking through tunes I didn’t know very well. This was challenging my habit of laziness!
Eventually I gave it a try. I chose Last Night in Leadville. That was an old time tune i had been playing over from time to time, but without mastering it. I had started, but had not finished learning it.
Sticking with one tune for a hundred times went against the grain. I found a way to keep count that made it a little more fun.
I worked with sets of five repetitions, five reps when you’re pumping fiddle tunes. Every time I played five reps i dropped a silver dollar into my footed bowl. It was a way of acknowledging the value of what I was into.
Five coins equaled a session. Four sessions totaled 100 repetitions.
When I had the tune by memory, I would play it walking from room to room. Just changing rooms with the beginning of the tune kept count without really thinking about it. Studio to living room, to kitchen, to living room, back to studio. That’s five times.
At the end of the day and the first 100, the results were better than I expected. I had the tune solid, played it with a little style, and enjoyed it tremendously.
I still play Last Night in Leadville for my own satisfaction. It isn’t part of my public repertory. maybe some day it will be.