I am careful not to drill through repetition anymore. This was a practice process that once helped me find technical success, but often led to mindless repetition without emphasis on musical gesture. During retraining from focal dystonia I learned to better observe and understand the moment I had had enough of a particular passage; when to put it away.
In The Yamas and the Niyamas: Yoga’s Ethical Practice, Deborah Adele writes, “In yogic thought there is a moment in time when we reach the perfect limit of what we are engaged in. If we take food, for instance, we gain energy and vitality from the food we are eating – up to a point. If we continue to eat past that point, there is a downward turn into lethargy. If we eat slowly enough and pay attention, we can find this point that sits perfectly on the line of “just right”. It is this moment of “just enough” that we need to recognize. Past that point we begin our descent into excess. The same is true for any activity that we are engaged in.”
There are times when things are working well, and I am able to repeat free, non-dystonic movement. On these days I practice rhythmic whole hand release in between repetitions, coordinated with the inhalation. Both hands come off the flute in extra rests between repeated loops. With that kind of work, always while emphasizing the musical gesture, the “moment of just enough” comes much later in my practice.