Statistical Practice

I have always heard it said that musicians tend to be great at math. In my own case I have not found that to be true. Math was not a subject that I struggled with in school, but neither did I enjoy it or excel in that department. However, recently I had an epiphany about applying statistics to my own practicing and encouraging my students to do the same. As a musician, it is just not adequate to practice a passage until it is perfect. My reasoning is that if you have played and replayed a passage say 10 times, and on the tenth time you ace it, then that means those other 9 times have set you up for an approximate 90% chance of error on the next run through. The more we improve as musicians, the more we need to flip that ratio. For my students I ask that they walk into their performances with their most difficult passages ready to go with a 90% or higher chance of success. Again, if that means that if they play two measures on loop 100 times, that 90 of those times they nailed it. Having just completed our spring recitals at the Grace Notes School of Music, I've seen a huge change in the confidence and accuracy of their performances. Statistics has given them something solid to hang their hats on.