Thursday, February 26, 2015

Maintaining a Practice Log

I recently found this graphic and thought it summed things up well for the musician!
Practice is a key part of being a musician. In fact, if you want to do anything well it's all about putting the time into it. Malcolm Gladwell popularized the idea of the "10,000-Hour Rule" in his book Outliers. The 10,000-Hour Rule is based on a study by Anders Ericsson of chess players and how many hours they spent playing the game to achieve the grandmaster level.
...cognitively complex activities take many years to master because they require that a very long list of situations and possibilities and scenarios be experienced and processed.
Gladwell says that from the Beatles to Bill Gates it took a combination of natural aptitude and 10,000 hours of practice/experience to reach greatness. There's a great article on by Gladwell where he discusses this further. Here's the link - Complexity and the 10,000-Hour Rule.

This 10,000-Hour Rule is easily transferred to learning an instrument. How do we make sure we are getting our time in though? One of my new favourite quotes, and I'm not sure who said it, is "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Well, I don't want to plan to fail and I certainly don't want that for any of my students.

Maintaining a practice log is a great plan for tracking your progress and time. I put one together for my students and wanted to make it available to anyone else who may find it useful. I usually talk with my students about a weekly goal of how many minutes they think they can practice each week. A great starting point is 100 minutes which works out to 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Each person will have different goals and different amounts of time they are willing or able to commit to their instrument. A log helps us to see what needs to be done to reach our weekly goals. If you just want to know how to play the instrument and have some fun, 100 minutes a week works great. If you want to hit the 10,000 hour mark at some point in your life you will need to increase that. 2 hours a day, 5 days a week for over 19 years should do the trick!

Should you be practicing right now?

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