THE LEITNER SYSTEM (Spaced Repetition)

In the 1970s, a German popularizer of science, Sebastian Leitner, developed a method of studying flash cards that makes learning the material much more efficient and effective. In this method, you use multiple boxes or files for your cards. The illustration below shows five boxes, but you can use more.

The Method

Write the name of each tune you are practicing on a separate index card. All the cards start off in Box 1 where you practice them every day.

As you review the cards, each tune you play correctly goes into Box 2. You will practice these tunes every two days. If you make a mistake, practice the piece and then replace it in Box 1.

When you review the cards in Box 2, if you can still play the piece correctly, the card is promoted to Box 3 and you’ll review it every three days. Continue on until all the cards are in the highest box.

If you make a mistake playing a piece from a card in any of the boxes, that card is demoted to the previous box (i.e., from Box 4 to Box 3). However, if you make several mistakes or can’t remember how to play a piece at all, then it’s definitely time to move it back to Box 1 and start over!


Suggested Practice Schedule for Five Boxes Over Fifteen Days

  • 1 – 1
  • 2 – 1, 2
  • 3 – 1, 3
  • 4 – 1, 2, 4
  • 5 – 1, 5
  • 6 – 1, 2, 3
  • 7 – 1
  • 8 – 1, 2, 4
  • 9 – 1, 3
  • 10 – 1, 2, 5
  • 11 – 1
  • 12 – 1, 2, 3, 4
  • 13 – 1
  • 14 – 1, 2
  • 15 – 1, 3, 5