Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

This is the generally accepted number of hours playing that world class classical musicians acquire on their road to excellence. Malcolm Gladwell described this concept a few years ago and anecdotal evidence across diverse fields support him. I would guess that the great Irish musicians followed a parallel course as world class classical musicians - beginning very early in life and strengthen by love of the music, personal discipline and supportive families. Do you think that one can take up the fiddle (other instrument) later in life and
with 3-4 hours o faithful playing/practice a day attain excellence at about the 10,00o hour mark?


Outliers: The Story of Success is a best selling non-fiction book written by Malcolm Gladwell and published by Little, Brown and Company on November 18, 2008. In Outliers, Gladwell examines the factors that contribute to high levels of success. To support his thesis, he examines the causes of why the majority of Canadian ice hockey players are born in the first few months of the calendar year, how Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates achieved his extreme wealth, how The Beatles became one of the most successful musical acts in human history, how Joseph Flom built Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom into one of the most successful law firms in the world, how cultural differences play a large part in perceived intelligence and rational decision making, and how two people with exceptional intelligence, Christopher Langan and J. Robert Oppenheimer, end up with such vastly different fortunes. Throughout the publication, Gladwell repeatedly mentions the "10,000-Hour Rule", claiming that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours. (source Wiki)

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Judging by the numbers, with 4 hours of practice a day, Mastery is achieved in near 7 years.

10,000 hours/4 hours a day = 2,500 days(6.8… years)

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I was under the impression that the ‘rule’ had been discredited as arbitrary and more of a folk myth, as in ‘you are never more than six feet from a rat’. Given that there are small children who could play my socks off, the rule is obviously not hard and fast. As to learning when you are older — I don’t see why anyone who likes something enough to want to do it several hours a day would not become proficient at it, barring physical disabilities.

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As I recall it was slightly more complex than just 10,000 hours, you also need luck and ability.

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"As to learning when you are older - I don’t see why anyone who likes something enough to want to do it several hours a day would not become proficient at it, barring physical disabilities"

You should hear my father ‘playing’ the fiddle. He’s ‘horribly’ devoted and has easily done his 10,000 hours and it all still sounds like his first day. Malcolm Gladwell’s hypothesis is flawed, and for it to become even a reasonably acceptable theory he would need to test it not merely against successful people, but also the mass of unsuccessful people. That said, I agree in principle with Gam’s sentiments on older people. It would at least be 10, 000 hours well spent. Also, sure there are many kids who can play our socks off (and I really do need to change mine;- they have done their 10, 000 hours), but a percentage will stop improving or burn out. Like everything, it’s an individual thing and I don’t believe you can make a universal speifiation in time (just as you can’t make a universal speifiation of rats in space).

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The rule has not been discredited, but it has been grossly misinterpreted. I cannot more strongly suggest reading the seminal paper by Ericsson, et al. (2006; linked below*).

The first issue with most people’s understanding is that 10,000 hours must be deliberate practice, and this amount of hours correlates with expert performance. Butt in chair is not enough. It must be effortful. Ericsson et al. operationalized this, but it definitely needs more work. Another aspect of this issue is that they also found to be a competitive expert takes more than 10,000 hours. For example, if you look at the diary study in Ericsson, et al., you can extrapolate that if the "best students" who practiced 30 hours a week practiced that much for 10 years, they would get more than 15,000 hours of practice in (and yes, in this study they were trained to record only deliberate, effortful practice).

The second issue is that this work suggests that true masters need more than 10,000 hours. I cannot find the number right now, but in a graduate class I took last year I believer we found the number 25,000 hours of practice in the research for being an internationally competitive player. For example, less competitive genres should take less practice. So, to win a Chopin competition against the best of the best might take 25,000+ hours of practice, whereas an Irish music competition might take 15,000 hours of practice. This number, however, is not trivial, as it does not include sessions or playing at home, but only deliberate and effortful practice.

Effortful practice, as operationalized by the original authors, includes a ~10 minute break every hour, because without breaks effortful practice cannot be sustained. Effort, in turn, means that one does not play through mistakes, but challenges every note and sound and constantly aims for improvemetn.

So, even 10,000 hours of deliberate practice is more than it sounds, and it already sounds like a lot. 4 hours a day, as fiddlelearner suggests, is actually a lot, and the research has shown it is the maximum before performance declines significantly. 2.8 hours a day is more likely, and at that rate it would take a clean 10 years to reach expert performance. So, keep in mind, that playing through tunes that you already know for an hour actually is equivalent to 0 hours of deliberate practice. Casually learning a tune for an hour is 0 hours of effortful practice. Slowing down a tune, and deeply learning the variations in a tune on a recording, while stopping to fix problem notes for a few minutes (for tone, tuning, clarity, etc) for an hour = 1 hour of deliberate practice.

True, the original methods could be expanded upon and operationalized better, but it is safe to say that even those of us who practice for 3 hours a day do so casually, rather than deliberately and effortfully. This means that 10,000 hours even is harder to achieve than most people think.


*here is a rough copy: i have a cleaner one if anyone is interested
http://www.mockingbirdeducation.net/uploads/5/4/0/7/5407628/ericsson_1993.pdf

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@Gobby: it is not his hypothesis, Malcom Gladwell has misrepresented Ericsson et al.’s work, which I link to above. It needs to be expanded upon, but it actually anticipated your issues, 15 years before Gladwell wrote about it.

Your father, no offense, has surely put in 10,000 hours of bad practice, which according to the original study, would be equivalent to 0 hours of (effortful or meaningful) practice. Thus, their model would predict that he is no good. They would do this by not looking at his hours playing at home, but in his hours practicing according to certain criteria.

And yes, they did compare worse and better musicians. Worse musicians spent less time practicing effortfully, though they may have engaged in the same amount of total musical activities. For example, a violin soloist may spend 30 hours a week practicing and 10 hours a week in rehearsals and taught no private lessons, for a total of 40 hours a week. A high school orchestra teacher, in contrast, may spend 30 hours a week conducting, 5 hours a week playing in a community band, and 5 hours a week practicing at home, for a total of 40. In between, for example, would be a third violinist in the same orchestra as the soloist, who practiced for 21 hours a week, spent 10 hours a week in rehearsal, but taught 9 hours of lessons.

These numbers are generalized, but the actual data mimics this trend. Better musicians practice a lot more and start effortful practice younger. This, also, is from the paper: elite performers start effortful practice at about at 7, other experts at about age 12 or so, though they all may have started playing their instruments at 6 years of age.

So, your issues with the theory are valid, and well addressed by extensive data collection. Your father is surely enjoying his music but practicing poorly. Effortful practice, in contrast, is by definition very little fun.

For example, I spent about 10 hours last week on two tunes, just on trying to get the first note of every beat to be just right. The catch is that I only worked on the first note of every beat, and haven’t started filling in the rest of the tune. This means instead of playing the first two beats of the reel as| DFAF A,C,EE | I only played the first notes,|D4 A,4 |. The point was to make it perfectly match how each of these notes are played on the recording, ignoring the notes between until I get those right. After 10+ hours it has not reached my satisfaction. Does this sound fun? Haha, it isn’t really. Your father’s probably having a lot more fun than me, ;-).

Happy practicing!

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No. Excellence happens when someone with talent works hard to develop the talent. The time needed in any musical discipline varies with the person. Some have talent and no desire. Some have desire and no talent. The former group won’t put in the time, and the latter won’t reach as far in the allotted time. So, YMMV

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To answer the OP: No. Absolutely not.
While the OP was well written (nice one Tom) the concept of assigning an arbitrary time to achieve mastery, universal for all aspirants, is completely ridiculous.

There are many elements that create gross inaccuracies in the equation. Firstly, it assumes that people are practicing correctly and not mundanely going over bad habits, sight reading everything, etc. A small percentage of musicians will be engaging in correct, productive practice, and an even smaller percentage will be doing that consistently every hour of each day’s practice~ very small. :-)
We don’t want to go over the cognitive, physical and neuronal elements that deteriorate with time, necessarily limiting the proficiency we want to achieve.

The bright side to this is what defines "excellence." Thankfully it can be achieved in much fewer than 10,000 hours, as gam alluded to above^. The simple joy of learning and playing a tune well is excellent.

I’m recalling Paddy Keenan’s words on an old YT clip with Davy Spillane, where he says about his talents "I never ‘learned’ it was just there." In Fintan Vallely’s book "Blooming Meadows" he talks about Paddy’s and Finbar’s abilities and gives a little reminder to the reader on how these trad legends grew to be. He says that the mechanical stuff is practiced at the beginning until the motor skills are learned, but the music was always in the ears from parents and siblings, community members, in the very trees and waves. The point was that mastery for these legends came through the ears, not the digits. We should be formulating an equation suitable to this music based on how many hours are logged *listening*. ;-)

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daiv, I’m horrified! Here was me thinking that I do about three hours a day, when according to your definition I am doing zero! Fair enough I enjoy it so much that I don’t actually regard it as practice (at least not work), but how the hell have I improved so much in the last five years? Also, I would still argue that even the most rigid practice regime would not work equally on all people, no matter how dedicated they were. And there is still the matter of what people mean by ‘excellence’.

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Gobby, you can still improve, but your 10,000 hours wouldn’t count towards becoming a world-class professional Irish musician, which is more in line with the original paper’s standard of musicianship.

I never said rigid, I said effortful. They never said people had to practice particular things, but in a particular way. What do people mean by excellence? The original authors measured job placement and performance in international competition. They also had blind raters, I believe, listen to performers in at least one study.

Also, I updated my response to you (above) to show you an actual example of my practicing last week. 10 hours, on two 2-part reels, and I haven’t played either all the way through yet. In the past, I would have spent 2 hours on such tunes and played every note.

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@JJ: Actually, I agree with you that listening is important, but hours practiced probably correlates more strongly. These listening hours would be added on top of the practicing hours, yes, but not in lieu of practicing. On a normal day I listen to Irish trad for 1-3 hours and practice for 1-3 hours.

But, alas, my 1-3 hours of practice used to be no good. Perhaps a quarter of those hours were effortful for the last few years. However, when I got back from summer vacation in Ireland my new rule is that I cannot pick up my instrument if I am going to practice poorly. I stopped practicing at home and now only practice in my University’s practice rooms, usually for an hour before breakfast and then perhaps later on.

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Today you are as excellent as you can be. Tomorrow is another day…

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I wonder where geniuses come from. Those little 3 and 4 year olds that can play pieces that challenges most adults! How humbling it is to see a child only a quarter of my age out play me on all of my instruments! I am so glad I’m not the jealous type lol.

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"I agree with you that listening is important, but hours practiced probably correlates more strongly. These listening hours would be added on top of the practicing hours, yes, but not in lieu of practicing."

That’s subjective as well because the experience you gain by listening is correlated to how well you know your instrument.

I know the structure of the piano so well that some pieces I know how to play before I even sit down to try them out. Familiar patterns and familiar variations. 15 years of ear experience and everything sounds familiar. So my intent listening time goes right with my practicing time for piano.

But for fiddle, even the simplest of melodies could still tangle my fingers up, especially if they are in an unfamiliar key.

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The concept of talent though always has been difficult for me to understand. I tend to think that hard work and practice will eventually enable me to play well, but if we think outside of music to say football or tennis or golf, could I have ever been top class at these sports through sheer practice alone? I think their is an innate talent for an endeavour that some people have and others don’t. And the fiddle is no exception. Its just not fair. You can see it in children who simply play (anything) for the fun of it. Some are better than others. if we don’t have the talent but we have the desire, should we continue to try?

But I am reminded that Segovia said he practiced 18 hours a day when he was young but he reduced that to 10 hours a day in his 80’s.

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daiv, I actually felt a little muscle in my butt snap reading through your posts. I sustained an injury. What you describe sounds painful, busy, compulsive. I can only go by what I learned listening to, and then spending some time and playing very briefly with, Paddy Keenan and Paddy Maloney. Those two dudes are about as natural as they come in musicians. Paddy and Derek Bell, when they were here, looked like little children playing in the sandbox when they performed. It was so easy and natural, and not born of the compulsive, painful stuff some folks do in University practice rooms. ;-P

I can’t relate to that style of grinding it out. It starts to hurt when it gets compulsive, and the music really suffers for me. I’ve always felt a natural ease in everything I’ve wanted to do~ otherwise why would I want to do it?? Same with fishing. They say musky are the fish of 10,000 casts. I quickly saw that myth and narrowed it down to a few, even one cast, early on. And that’s not always true, and sometimes it’s hundreds of casts, but I enjoy that activity and the fresh air. Same with listening and playing. I listen to trad because I enjoy it. Sometimes I "accidentally" listen for ridiculous amounts of time and my wife teases me. Same with playing (notice I’m not using the word "practice"), where I’ll be holed up in my office, the backyard, or wherever, playing away and having a blast. Never do I time it out and get too stern about it, because it infringes on my *playtime*, and the gods are happiest when we play. ;-)

So, not to overlook the importance of proper technique and learning that, or various methods to improve. That’s all great and important. But it’s not the end, only the means in my mind, to "playing well."

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Daiv, I should know better than to argue against a thesis I haven’t even read (reminds me of my own university days), so sorry about that and your response has enlightened me. But in the end I’m just a born sceptic, especially about research that tries to quantify human behaviour, ability and psyche.

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Just read JJ’s last response and couldn’t agree more.

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Lindsay Cullen, great post. Segovia is a good example. Very ordered and precise~ exquisite guitar playing, and talented. And I’m with ya on the talent element.
The ease, the play, is where it’s at for me. I only play because it brings me joy and is fun. When my pipes aren’t working and it becomes not fun, I want to snap or bend them into pieces (I bent a $500 stop key last week minutes after it was returned from being repaired) and go in the backyard and have a fire. :-D
But, most of us aren’t child prodigies. We can still play if it’s bringing us enjoyment! But, if it’s not I’m not sure what the point is. The joy is what’s communicated, to me, in a good performance. I can sense it from my favorite performers. I only feel happy when I play this music. Pretty much the same goes for listening to it. And for the record, Sharon Shannon’s constant smiling doesn’t bother me. :-D

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I love Sharons smiling. She must have practied for 10,000 hours.

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Yes JJ, that’s right. Dear oh dear don’t snap your pipes! You must be a true artist! I’d never deliberately break an instrument. Sometimes I tire of listening and only playing brings me enjoyment…but I do more listening than playing that’s for sure. One thing I don’t necessarily agree with is that some practicing is a waste of time. I think its cumulative…like lead or mercury poisoning. Any amount has some benefit…not like poisoning…but you know what I mean ay?

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I’d even go so far as to say Gobby she must have *played* for 20,000!

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"I stopped practicing at home and now only practice in my University’s practice rooms, usually for an hour before breakfast and then perhaps later on."

So that’s where I’ve been going wrong all these years. What are the chances of me playing the pipes for an hour before breakfast? Anyone want to take a guess?

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I know what you’re saying Lindsay, and that point is often overlooked in discussions about "good practicing."

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I’d guess one in 10,000 Doc. ;-)

University practice rooms make me crazy, btw. Cold concrete, lack of art on the walls, out of tune piano….just throw me in wearing a straight jacket and shove a whistle in my mouth.

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Does practicing ‘in your head’ count? If it does, I do a lot of that throughout the day (and night). I would argue that it is essential to the practice and delivery of this kind of music to get it right ‘within’ your head.

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I used to practice/play in a practice room when I was at uni. Mainly because playing the pipes in the dorms was not deemed to be socially acceptable behaviour. During my final year, I was engaged in an on and off skirmish with someone who I thought was one of my best mates and the RA over playing the clarsach and whistle (I had a Bb Generation with Blue-Tac muting it) in the dorm during the middle of the day. I thought, if people can blast their stereos so I can hear it, I can play a harp and a muted whistle. Others did not share this logic. That was a fun year.

I was happy enough hiding in a practice room with the pipes, though. I was just learning how to play and would not have wanted the entire dorm to hear it.

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Yep Gobby, and whistling/lilting too. Do you schedule 30 min/day of brow-furrowed, stare-straight-ahead whistling of the tunes?? Cuz scientists claim this is an essential component of becoming the next trad idol.

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OP: No, not if it’s simply one hour’s playing repeated 10,000 times.

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By Daiv’s definition, I might have clocked up about 10 hours of practice so far. At this rate, I’ll be a top class musician in just 19,980 years.

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And likewise, when I was a master’s student at Durham University and living in post-graduate housing, I was told that playing musical instruments in said post-grad housing was NOT ALLOWED. Because there’s nothing quite like being more or less an adult (not exactly an 18-year old undergrad, and some of the postgrads in that place were over 30!) and being told what you can and cannot do in your flat. I used to have to hike to the college’s practice room, which had to be booked in an advance.

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Yes, doc, understood. I’ve had to play in a practice room or two as well, and was grateful at the time for it. I would, however, never leave the comfort of my own home and man-caves to seek one out.

Truthfully, you’re bringing back bad memories of college days…I can relate. I and my music suffered for a few years with horrible roommates. I could rarely find a place to play….

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Aye, had no choice. I’m lazy as anything now about practicing, but in those days I was desperate to get past the "sucking horribly" stage so I had to practice a lot.

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Dr SS, you are bringing back some bad memories. I was actually a 40 year old post-grad when I was kicked out of my own office at uni for practising my finger picking on guitar. And that was before breakfast! The cleaners objected and complained when I ignored them, and I already had a few yellow cards against me. I only wish I’d have had some pipes.

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Everyone has the same bad memories. LOL.

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If we are talking anecdotally I’d say I was told 5 years to learn the instrument and another 5 years to master it. I’ve played whistles for 6 years and I can play a fair bit now, but I also feel a long, long way from mastering it.

When I passed the 5 year mark although I realise it was an arbitrary timespan I really felt qualified to feel a bit more confident. I was then told you learn even faster once you get a grip of the instrument so I look forward to the next 4 years making all the difference.

Anyhoo, although the timescales quoted in this thread are arbitrary they are good guideline to those starting out not to be too despondent after only 100/500/1000 hours practise.

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"Anyhoo, although the timescales quoted in this thread are arbitrary they are good guideline to those starting out not to be too despondent after only 100/500/1000 hours practise." And that it is a long journey so it might be best to enjoy it for itself rather than the destination.

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It depends. There’s a difference between playing for 20 years and playing the same year 20 times.

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Oh yes Nate, I’m sure we all know someone who seems to have played forever, but equally badly for as long as we’ve known them with seemingly no desire to actually improve, or indeed learn any new tunes.

It has to be motivated, striving hours or years of playing to actually see the improvement. Not just playing Maid Behind the Bar every Tuesday for 15 years.

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@fiddlelearner: i have no issue with listening. i think it is essential to being a good musician. however, to be a world-class musician, you should probably listen several hours a day and practice several hours a day. the world class musicians i know listen to way much more music than i do. one of my friends, a gradam cheoil recipient, listens to music every night as he goes to sleep. that’s too much, for me!

i also want to differentiate between types of listening. i think there is active and passing listening. both are essential to getting better. for example, listening to music while washing the dishes or driving the car is just as important as intently listening to music in isolation. during my practice sessions, yes, i do count active listening as part of practice, because it is very effortful. during the rest of the day, i just let tunes play in my car or on my ipod as i work. i think when i up the amount of passive listening, i always get better.

i come from a family of musicians, and they taught me to "listen, listen, listen." my grandma’s cousin probably has practiced (by my definition) very little in her life, but she has listened endlessly and played thousands of hours. she does not know the names of the notes and does not care to. she is a great musician, and was an important part of the music scene in chicago for decades.

so, there’s nothing wrong with just listening or just playing and doing very little effortful practice. it’s just not going to correlate with being an internationally competitive or professional musician. the 1-2 punch, however, is tons of listening and tons of effortful practice.

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@JJ: sorry to have caused you such harm. yes, effortful practice by nature is not as fun as just hanging out and playing tunes.

i’m glad to hear that paddy keenan is a natural musician. try to tell me he didn’t practice a lot in his youth. just because he’s a natural as you say doesn’t mean it didn’t have to be developed. musicians have his caliber put in thousands of effortful practice. just because they didn’t do it the same way that i did it last week doesn’t mean that they just lazily practiced for 10 years and emerged on the scene brilliant.

i do know a few world-class musicians. they may not practice exactly the same as me, but they are so meticulous. for example, i can remember a time i showed up at a session, and the session leader said, "why do you sound better today?" i told him that it was probably because on halloween a few days prior, all my friends went out to parties and i stayed home to practice. i spent about 5 hours on revamping all my pick up notes and trying to get them (in the middle of tunes) just right. he laughed and said, "oh, i remember those days." now, this musician might not do stuff like this anymore, but 30 years ago when he won the all-ireland, he surely did. when people hear this musician, however, they remark on how effortful his playing is, which doesn’t fit your theory.

the reason i practice effortfully is because part of me does enjoy it. it’s not all gritting teeth, for me. i like getting better and enjoy the challenge. it’s all right if you don’t.

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@gobby: that’s alright! i’m a sceptic, too, :-). i just think that malcolm gladwell misrepresented the work. also, i think it is very helpful to know that there is a lot you can do with hard work and practice. maybe all of us couldn’t get good enough to play like with martin hayes, but i believe anyone could get good enough to keep up with him to play along and not trample all over his music, :-P. about 7 years ago, i never thought i’d be good enough to play in a session. if you had told me that i would be able to session with famous all-ireland champions every sunday, i wouldn’t have believed you! i’ll probably never get good enough to play on stage with these same people, but i’m content hanging out in pubs and playing along with their music, :-).

@linsday: think of it this way. if you started young enough in swimming, for example, i bet you could get good enough to get to the olympic trials if you put in 10,000 or 20,000. if you are not talented, so to speak, you may not get farther than that. the same 20,000 hours that gets some people to the olympics only to fail in their first race got michael phelps 18 gold medals. so, my general approach is put in your 10,000 hours and then we’ll talk about who is more talented. i don’t deny the influence of innate or natural ability, but i believe a bigger factor is whether or not you would enjoy the process of getting good enough to make the trials for the team.

i agree that practicing is never wasted, but if you ever put the effort into getting better practicing, then you will regret past sloppiness. learning how to improve my practicing from such people as james kelly (he is very knowledgeable on how to get better at practicing) has made all the difference.

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@dr silver speare: i got the idea to practice before breakfast because it kept coming up when i was visiting in ireland. my family is from the same town as matt molloy, and my cousin knows one of his old neighbors. she said that every morning before school matt molloy would practice for a few hours. then, my cousin told me that she heard there was a young girl that did this same thing. i met this young girl in tubbercurry the next week, when at 14 she sat in for a day to teach the whistle master class while the teacher had to deal with an emergency somewhere else. i asked this young lady if it was true she was the one who practiced before breakfast. she blushed and said that some days she just listens.

@everyone’s comments on practice rooms: yes, i cannot play in the morning at home. i live in an apartment. i have found, however, that an hour of practice in the practice rooms is worth about 3 at home. i just get more done, anyways. i still mess around and play at home sometimes, but i make an effort to go to the practice rooms.

and yes, i agree that they are horrible acoustically.

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@infernaltootler: the timescales are not arbitrary. read the article i posted, above. i agree that 10,000 hours of practice is only a guideline. there is so much more that goes into it, for example: who the heck actually wants to practice for 10,000 hours? i do like your idea of time passing, however. i feel that there is only so much you can learn in a short amount of time, your brain and body needs time to relax. i’m getting close 9 years on the concertina and stuff is finally getting into place. i feel like i’m practicing less, but getting more natural.

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daiv, I got smacked around a bit by Mr. Kelly this summer. (Not literally, he is a kind man and a wonderful teacher. But he isn’t shy about telling you what you need to hear.) His point: if you don’t use your practice time to *practice*, your playing never really goes anywhere. More to the point, if you play something wrong for 10,000 hours, it’s still wrong. If you don’t have three hours a day to devote to this, then you’d better use what time you do have to spend very wisely.

We all know this. But it’s more fun to play tunes and go to sessions and stuff. Working on something is hard, and demands attention. (Especially if you have old brain cells. Wah.) Yes, I play with people who seem to be naturals—surely they didn’t spend time playing a phrase over and over until they got it right? But everyone I ask about this tells me that is exactly what they did. That includes People Whose Names I Could Drop and just the really good musicians in my area. The crazy good musical kids? No, they probably don’t, but they are still blessed with elastic brains and unencumbered by adult baggage; that’s my theory.

I’m certainly never going to be a (ahem) World Class Musician. But I can see a difference in my playing when I actually put the effort in to work through bad bits and get them right. I want to play music, not just be able to scratch my way through hundreds of tunes.

The more effort you put into the music, the more effortless it becomes.

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"The point was to make it perfectly match how each of these notes are played on the recording" Why? What does that have to do with making music?

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

@michele: that’s a good summary of james’ approach, probably more helpful than i provided. i really like your last statement about effort, :-). 15 minutes a day of good practice followed by some light fun and tune learning is much better than 3 hours of sloppy practice. balance is important.

@5stringfool: well, the basic idea is that if my downbeats are no good, then the middle of my beats are no good. rather than trying to be a carbon copy, my goal is to make whatever i play mesh with what is on the recording. this is a stand-in for playing with a life person, so that when i do play with someone i can be spontaneous but also know what to expect. to me, matching is not copying, but making something work. for example, i do actually play my downbeat earlier than on a recording, but i have to make sure that it still sounds good with the downbeats on the recording. although it may sound i am being overly rigid, i am actually freeing myself up to be flexible.

here is an example of what i mean: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_NXCYUtpQ8 . in this recording, we took my friend’s (fiddle) set and re-recorded it (you can find the original set on youtube). i learned his recorded version note-for-note, but when we played together i played whatever i wanted. i knew where he was going to go in general, so i had an intimate knowledge of what to work on. so, the point of matching a recording exactly is setting it up so that i can make my own variations that still gel with the original.

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Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

daiv, looks like you get blown back by the propwash in Eel. :-D

Gosh, you guys make it look so easy!

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

Dr. SilverSpear,

"So that’s where I’ve been going wrong all these years. What are the chances of me playing the pipes for an hour before breakfast? Anyone want to take a guess?"

I was watching the documentary "Martin Hayes From Clare to Here" recently and I recall him saying that "In the morning, after I’d have the breakfast, before I’d go to school, I’d play a few tunes because it felt good…"
Maybe that’s the secret!!

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Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

Best time of the day to play - even though it means crawling out of bed…

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

daiv-Now I see what you’re doing. I misunderstood,thought you were trying for a carbon copy. Anyway,whatever you are doing is clearly working. Your clip is great.

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

“Best time of the day to play - even though it means crawling out of bed…”

Yes I agree, but I never have trouble getting out of bed. Last night, for example, I woke up about .2.00am with a tune running through my head and thought, ‘What’s that one called again?’. By 6.00am I’d realised that it was Tripping Up The Stairs. I never really play it but I felt ompelled since it was on my mind. So now, just after 7.00 am I’ve just managed to put my fiddle down and my coffee has gone cold. It’s this site that interferes with my morning practice more than my breakfast. And then….

"The point was to make it perfectly match how each of these notes are played on the recording" Why? What does that have to do with making music?"
I think that’s why Aly Bain’s playing irritates me (sorry, it’s true!). He surely does his 10,000 hours and nobody could doubt his skill, but its violin playing to my ears. I’d rather hear a half decent fiddler than an exellent violinist.

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Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

[*I think that’s why Aly Bain’s playing irritates me (sorry, it’s true!). He surely does his 10,000 hours and nobody could doubt his skill, but its violin playing to my ears. I’d rather hear a half decent fiddler than an exellent violinist.*]

Interesting. Apparently, that’s a huge thing here :)

Re: 10,000 Gladwellians, give or take a few thousand.


"(As an aside, with regard to modes of learning, there’s a new book by a fellow who learned to memorize great scads of stuff really fast - I’m dreading the eager-beaver types who’ll read that and be turning up here suggesting that we apply his mnemonic techniques to tunes, which is exactly the wrong way to learn a tune, as a sequence of note-objects that happen to fall in this particular order. They will come, and they will be just as wrong as the Gladwellians with their "10,000 hours" mantra)"
Posted by someone on some forum on March 9th @ 10:47pm somewhere.

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Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

Jim, you’re probably right that more than a few contributors here consider Aly Bain to be a highly skilled player, though they’d rather spend their time listening to fiddlers who cannot touch his level of playing.

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Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

And you apparently just noticed this, Jim? ;-)

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

This thread has caught the attention of a lot of people. The best advice I had about practicing was from the conductor of a mandolin orchestra I was in. I beleieve this is probably what is taught to classical musicians as well. Practice a piece such that you play it slow enough to get everything correct - intonation, timing etc. When you falter or make a mistake…go back to the beginning and do it again, until the next mistake or end of tune… repeat till you have the tune up to tempo with no mistakes…simple really, anyone can do it and talent doesn’t come into the equation. There was no other advice…no time limit etc. So this 10,000 hours business is probably just a large number that says you need a lot of repetitions to get good at anything.

Anyhow Daiv I would never be a good swimmmer because I couldn’t stand the boredom of doing lap after lap, and anyway like running I just wasn’t fast enough; but I probably could have been a good spin bowler with enough practice as I enjoyed that…so enjoyment is the key.

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

@na éisc: i think it’s hard to say that the 10,000 hours idea is wrong, especially if you understand what the original idea was. i think it also has little relation to your rote memorization anecdote. the point of 10,000 hours of effortful practice is that it cannot be rote learning. that is mindless practice, which wouldn’t count towards the 10,000 hours. also, how can you say the 10,000 hours people are wrong? i’ve yet to see someone log that many hours practicing and be no good at what they are doing.

@lindsay: yeah, enjoyment is surely the key. i wouldn’t want to be a competitive swimmer, either, ;-).

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Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

[*Jim, you’re probably right that more than a few contributors here consider Aly Bain to be a highly skilled player, though they’d rather spend their time listening to fiddlers who cannot touch his level of playing.*]

I think Gobby was referring more to his tone and content, rather than skill level, but yes, that’s true.

[*And you apparently just noticed this, Jim?*] Of course not. Don’t you remember all the previous barneys … er …squabbles … er .. discussions on the subject? You could spend 10,000 hours reading them :)

If one is to analyse the 10,000 hours ‘rule’, then I think consistency is required. If it takes 10,000 hours to achieve something which requires an extremely high degree of skill, does it make sense to use that figure as a benchmark for achieving something requiring a much lower level of skill? That’s the question I’d ask.

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

One of the examples used when the book first came out (I guess it was in the book) was The Beatles putting in the hours playing three sets a day in Hamburg for however long it was. They were not practicing. The were performing.

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

Re. Aly Bain - "…but it’s violin playing to my ears". You need to sort out your ears.

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Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

"Best time of the day to play - even though it means crawling out of bed…"

Yes, I find that part difficult.

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

Kenny: A link to some early Boys of the Lough on youtube would be good, a couple of reels maybe. :-)

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What Kenny said.

Aly Bain is untouchable here, thank you!

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

There’s the "nature versus nurture" thing which is part of it too.

"Talent" or predisposition or whatever you want to call it does exist.

Seems that in most fields of human endeavour the people who excel 1) have innate talent/gifts/predisposition and 2) have tremendous work ethic and work harder at their craft that everybody else.

James Galway perceives this duality, and believes that is one’s duty to put in the thousands of hours of work required to develop one’s innate gifts to their fullest (and this coming from a man who has reached the pinnacle of his field)

"If you’ve received a gift from God it is your duty to use it and nurture it to its full potential." James Galway

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

"…Aly Bain’s playing irritates me…" You probably haven’t listened to enough music. How do you feel about Stephane Grappelli? Does he irritate you too?
I wish we could hear some of the posters, like Gobby, who criticised Daiv’s comments. Daiv can indeed play and has a great sense of the music. People who don’t slow down to engage in focused practice (effortful, intense, etc) are obvious because although they may know many tunes their playing lacks rhythm, or swing, or lift.

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

"…if you don’t like Aly Bain’s playing you probably don’t like music."

I like Ay Bain (and Grappelli as well) but I don’t feel like judging people for not liking them is conducive to a fruitful and interesting comment conversation. Fiddle traditions are quite varied and encompass a wide variety of valid preferences. Sneering at others might feel good, but it tends to taint discussions.

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

Point taken.

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

I like Aly Bain’s playing of Irish and Scottish dance tunes and American waltzy stuff etc a lot. When learning tunes like that his recordings are ones I often go to. But I can understand why people find his playing of slow tunes rather too sugary and vibrato laden for their taste. I gave the last "Aly and Phil " concert very near here a miss. Other fiddlers mix a little more anger in with the sorrow in their laments.

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

Can I make something clear here ? I do not have any sort of problem with anyone not liking Aly Bain’s playing. That is entirely down to personal taste, but it has to be said that he’s been an inspiration to traditional musicians in Scotland - on all instruments - for over 40 years now. What I disagreed with was him being classed as a "violinist" and not a "fiddler", although it depends entirely on how you define those 2 categories of musician.
I can give one illustrative instance, though. In 1995, Aly Bain collaborated with the BT Scottish Ensemble to play and record a suite of both traditional and original music which was premiered her in Aberdeen. The subsequent CD was entitled "Follow The Moonstone". The orchestra, and Aly, all took to the stage and set up with sheets of paper on music-stands in front of them. The difference was that all that Aly had on his music stand was a list of the names of the tunes, and the order to play them in. The rest of the players [ including the "violinists" ] had sheet music. I know this, because Aly made a joke of it, and showed the list to the audience.

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Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

you know, when I think about it, 10,000 hours might not equate to excellence, but if you put in that many hours of just playing whatever tune pops in your head, 10,000 hours probably does equate to some basic competence.

I mean you’ll be able to play and you’ll be comfortable. It’s three hours a day for 10 years. You’ll get somewhere. Maybe not top bill at a concert hall, but you’ll be alright

When I was young, all the old guys who were the local professionals I played gigs with said that at some time in your life you need to practice 8 hours a day for 4 or 5 years, then just go and play as much as you can. Thier advice was for being a professional studio player, which isn’t the same thing as being a world renown trad player, but is in line with being a solid professional player

FWIW, that guidline puts you at around 12-14 thousand hours, so there may be something to the 10,000 hour threashold

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

Hello Daiv,

Thanks for the link to the interesting and scholarly article on "The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance", Ericsson et al.

I agree with your thoughts on the importance of this seemingly large number of hours needed to attain excellence. More importantly I am in agreement with your emphasis of intense focused practice. Barry Green, the principal bassist of Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, has written several books which address the need for this focused intense practice - "being in the zone" for the entire practice/playing time. He feels it is important to be very aware during this time and just as in any mediative method, to learn to recognize it very early when one drifts way from the the "zone".

I have been almost as interested in how the mind learns music - what works snf what doesn’t during the last 3000 of my 4,000 hours. I have changed practice techniques many times along the road and I am, as you suggest,regretting the times when my practice was not efficient - not in the zone - and very detrimental to my progress.

I would suspect that most who committ to stay on a path requiring years 3-4 hours a day of intense training for anything would also strive to achieve efficiency along the way.

I should have also mentioned the immense value of a very good teacher(s) along the way - preferably someone for whom one has great respect and admiration. Obviously sometimes no teacher is better than a mediocre or poor teacher.

And finally, apologize to those who dislike reference to the classical music field here. It is just that there is much written about the learning process in the classical world whilst ITM is mostly a orally translated musical culture. I have no background there whatsoever but I still enjoy hearing classical musicians who have devoted their entire existence to learning their craft - enjoy it much more than hearing a "half-decent" (or half indecent) Irish fiddler.

As usual, the views here all all over the spectrum of crack pot and expert opinions. My favorite is the funny one
that you can eat breakfast, then play a few tunes, listen well and then go on to be Martin Hays if you have the talent.

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

"Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?"

No

"Malcom Gladwell has misrepresented Ericsson et al.’s work"

Yes

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Re: Does 10,000 Hours of Bloviating on the Internet Equate with Excellence?

If it does, we are all fabulous! ;-)

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

I just want to clarify my comments on Aly Bain. Firstly, my reference to him as a ‘violinist’ wasn’t intended as a put down. I just meant that he dose stuff on that VIOLIN (after all) that is beyond the capabilities of more mortal fiddlers (and often beyond our calling). Secondly, I really do listen to him a lot. But this doesn’t change the fact that his style of playing irritates me AS FIDDLE MUSIC. And yes, Grappelli is utterly fantastic, and doesn’t irritate me whatsoever, but I’m sure he would if he played ITM all the time. I just prefer it played by mortals.

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Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

“ Kenny,….“Re. Aly Bain - "…but it’s violin playing to my ears". You need to sort out your ears.”

Well I kind of do try and do that Kenny. If I like one of his tunes that I think I can translate into an Irish accent I work at it. I’m not big on Shetland style, but that’s because I prefer to play Sligo, and that in itself should help explain why his fiddling can irritate me (style of playing when I’m focussed on learning). All the same I listen and try to learn. There is nothing wrong with having preferences and different taste. I don’t want to squander too many of my 10,000 hours by listening to exellence that doesn’t help me.

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Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

@ David Levine, “I wish we could hear some of the posters, like Gobby, who criticised Daiv’s comments.”

I think this is a little unreasonable David. I don’t believe that I criticised Daiv’s comments at all. I merely expressed an opinion, and indeed later thanked him for enlightening me on my previous misinformation. And what do you mean that you’d wish you could hear my playing ability? Do the amount of hours clocked up correlate with ones right to express an opinion?

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Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

I think we all have to "suspend disbelief" here and avoid worrying about the playing ability that underlies comments. One of the things I like about Fiddle Hangout (US Oldtime focussed as it is) is that many participants post clips of their playing and one can use that to inform one’s view of posts.
I crossed swords with David L some time back in a discussion over at concertina.net and was nettled into posting a link to my own playing. In the absence of other information I took it as gracious on David’s part that he chose not to comment!

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Allan,
No worries. I, for one, value opinions are appreciated and valued highly. And diverse opinions are expected.
You have a great sense of humor and sense of fairness about it all. Thanks.

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@ Tom Connelly;- Cheers mate! That’s extremely nice of you. But it’s made me wonder if I don’t need to explain that I don’t feel peeved in any way about anything anybody has said…. (I hope Tom, that you’ll forgive me for saying that it doesn’t get under my skin… can’t help it,… bet you’ve never heard that one before??). My above responses were intended merely as clarification, and it all remains friendly and enjoyable banter to me. Carry on guys!

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Adopting Oral Traditions …

Tom, I’d say any music teacher is providing an oral transmission of the music at some point in the process regardless of anything which is written down. Wouldn’t you agree?

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Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

Na, Agreed. Music teachers do much of their work with the spoken word - and by example - probably in all musical genres. However for centuries, the world of classical music has had Departments of Music in major universities and there are top-notched major dedicated music conservatories in most countries. All of this ha not only great musicians and teachers - finding and training the best out there - but has also generated new ideas on music theory, instrumental technique and teaching techniques.

A book in my library, Principals of Violin Playing and Teaching, Ivan Galamian, is a highly respected treatise used today. I also have "A Treatise on the Fundamentals Principals of Violin Playing, Leopold Mozart (better know as Mozart’s father, circa 1750, which is even still a very usable book.

Galamian addresses considerable space in his book to "The Right Hand" - the bow hand that many here dismiss, probably a bit tongue-in-cheek (?) as a stick that moves to and fro and rubs the strings.

So, sometimes, it’s just that, is easier to draw inferences, examples and references from this other genre. Some would feel that even that is getting to far afield from the Irish Music and should be left out of the debate. Great civilizations grew up around the Mediterranean because of the easy exchange of ideas. Perhaps any exchange would, God forbid, change the music. Yet, it is well know that O’Carolan was somewhat influenced by Italian classicists of his time resulting in some wonderful tunes such as O’Carolan’s Concerto and others.

Well, back to my last half hour of fiddle - my favorite one since I get to drink a pint while playing.

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

Looks to me like the real problem with the Aly Bain discussion was understanding what "violinist" meant to the first poster. I certainly don’t think of Aly as a violinist in the classical sense, but I fully understand the later clarification by that same person. Thanks to all for civil discourse.

Let’s not drag that old "if he doesn’t play well he can’t understand the music" argument out again. Good ears for listening and understanding, and breadth of that listening and understanding fit one to judge at least as well as executant skill, and probably better. Many of the great orchestral conductors were only good players (though some are much more than that), and some amazing performers make bad conductors. And, some critics are knowledgable and have good background but others don’t. Seems to me it is the same with ITM. There must be some other way to establish credentials that a posting of performance…

But, this highjacks the topic. If you want to respond start a separate thread and I’ll meet you there…

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

@tom: i agree that good teachers are critical. ericsson et al. mention this, as well, that beyond practice hours, there are several other factors that seem to be important for creating good musicians. one is having access to good teachers at critical times. another is that their parents think they are special when they are young, even if it is not true, which gains them access to more lessons, opportunities, and other support. i also like the idea of "the zone." i’ll have to see if i can read more about barry green’s perspective.

i think that the idea is that you have to play some tunes BEFORE you eat to sound like martin hayes, :-P.

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Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

Thanks for the link the Ericsson daiv. The second most straightforward thing I took from it was that people who ‘get to the top’ start at a very young age then put into it all the time they can schedule and cope with without ‘burning out’. So its no big surprise that they put in roughly the same number of hours whether they be an endurance athlete who’s training results in changes to physique and physiology or a chess player who burns most of their training calories above ear level.

They don’t make any attempt to explain why the numbers come out so similar for a runner or a chess player and they can’t be sure whether or not initial selection might involve inherited ‘talent’.

The most straightforward result is that, as daiv says, we should all put in some time doing practice that is hard work and not fun.

(I’m not going to re-read it to check but I don’t think playing in ‘the zone’ counts as deliberate practice)

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

RE: Beginning as Children - A decade back I was having dinner with the conductor, concert master and a first violinist from a major US symphony orchestra. At the time, it was a challenge to get my 14 year old twin girls
to put in enough time practicing violin. I asked my weariness with being the disciplinarian and asked them "At what age were your parents able to stop their efforts to get you to practice? They all answered, in unison and without a seconds hesitation "18". Two were from the old Soviet empire and one from Western Europe. The old Soviet Empire did one thing right I think; not many musically talented children slipped through the nets.

Perhaps in the Irish tradition, there is not so much parental effort needed - the music was (hopefully still is)
all around them and their musical heroes are the traditionalists. I suppose now that is the idealized view. In older (and leaner) times, the music itself was the chief form of entertainment and playing it was on par with today’s video game and e-box fanatics.

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

The old Soviet empire certainly did keep kids from slipping through the nets, but at what cost? I have a friend who was put into the Soviet Olympic swim program at a very young age. To this day, she despises swimming. Not because she hates swimming itself, but because she was forced into 10,000 hours and more of swim practice. I’d rather be a mediocre fiddler who takes joy from playing, than a virtuoso who hates it. As it so happens, I am the former. :)

My point is not to say that it’s necessarily the case that one who is forced to do something will hate it, but do I feel that love of playing needs to factor into the equation somewhere. Or it should. There’s no point in excellence if one doesn’t enjoy that at which they excel.

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

I think you’re right teagan, it seems thatmost of those who succeed through putting in all their hours at an early age are those who are fascinated, obsessed, etc, and wouldn’t want to do anything else.

Particularly in the sport context, it’s sad to think of those who put in the hours, but are always in the "also rans." The sports equivalent of a middling seat in the violins of a respectable professional orchestra?

I don’t think anyone has specifically mentioned a German music college study where tutors were asked to rate the students between future soloists, orchestral players, and music teachers, and a very high correlation was found to the hours put in.
To my mind one of the most interesting results of that study was that they found no idle geniuses, who were heading for the top despite not having put in the hours, and no diligent plodders who were destined for mediocrity despite having put in top level effort.

Mindset? I seem to remember hearing that Ayrton Senna, talking after a F1 Grand Prix, could remember what had been going on at each corner of a two hour race…….

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

The "German music college study" is the central part of the Ericsson paper that daiv linked. Unfortunately the only study involving amateurs that they mention used adult amateur pianists who did an hour or so of practice per week (IIRC) and I think most of us have worked out for ourselves that that amount is not going to get us very far. Its not even a ‘maintenance’ amount for me.

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

… and I have not got much to maintain.

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So, at this point, how much time has gone into this academic discussion that could have been spent practicing? What would happen if all of the participants showed up at a pub together? Would there be a session or a looooong boozy discussion?

It has been an interesting discussion to follow, but in some ways irrelevant: I play for my own selfish pleasure, much like grandpa somewhere above. I practice as much as I can, time permitting, and strive to be competent enough to not annoy others at the session. And I do like the beer.

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

Yes, I used to be stressed out about not being very good and then I eventually got to a level of competence where I still don’t sound like Paddy Keenan, but I don’t think I annoy anyone either and I am relatively content with that. I also like beer.

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

I know it’s possibly inappropriate to make such a comment but I just can’t help myself:- A woman that plays uilleann pipes, likes beer and a good single malt….. Mr Silver Spear is such a lucky guy!

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Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

I think DrSS has defined the sweet spot valued by so many session players very well. We aspire to be part of the fun, not to stand out from the crowd.

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It’s good how you put that in context with this thread Al.

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Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

>>I also like beer

and pizzas, eh? :-)

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

“I also like beer…..and pizzas, eh? “
Especially for breakfast (after practice).

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Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

Regarding the comments earlier about posting clips of ‘your own playing’, I don’t think it’s a good idea. If you were to post a clip to demo a technical point, for the benefit of all, which could not be adequately expressed in words, then, fine.

If you post a clip in response to a request / goad to ‘show me that you are good enough to know what you are talking about’, then it’s pointless. Because, in that requestor’s eyes, you will never be good enough, so ‘you still don’t know what you are talking about.’

Even if ‘the requestor’ does not know what he is talking about, or can even play that instrument. :)

Been there, done that, ad nauseam :)

Just a seasoned observation from having been on this board for about 10,000 hours ;)

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

I got myself into a bit of hot water earlier on with my comment about Aly Bain. But my intention was not to put his playing down rather than to put him up as a standard of excellence that I’m not really comfortable with. The point I was trying to express was that I’d much prefer on any day to listen to the some merely decent playing from ‘ordinary folk’ (even half decent would be good). This tradition is after all a folk tradition, and the concept of excellence doesn’t sit easy with me. At least the concept needs to be defined, and defined within the terms of this folk tradition. I’ve heard Aly Bain in concert, and he was unquestionably and almost unbelievably excellent, but given the choice I’d rather sit and listen to a half decent fiddler on her back veranda. And she would have just as much right to express her opinion about the music as would the most fantastic Mr Bain.

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Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

Jim, how did you calculate your hours?
;-)

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Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

Yeah, Jim, did you estimate actual hours or use the formulas that lawyers use for billable hours? The latter usually give much more generous numbers. ;-)

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

And anyway, we must have told you 10,000 times not to exaggerate!

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Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

Well, I didn’t calculate the hours, until you nerdy types picked me up on it :)

But, I’ve been around here for at least 10 years, so, divide 10,000 hours by 10, that’s 1000 hours per year, divide that by 365 and that’s approx. 2.74 hours a day, which is a reasonable figure - although it’s on the high side, considering there were periods when I didn’t browse, or post.

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

Gobby, you can’t win. If you comment on excellence, it’s wrong. If you comment on scratchiness and dodgy intonation, that’s bad as well because it will upset the tribal elders :)

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

2.74 hours a day? Bloomin’ ‘eck, I’m lucky to get one hour a day, therefore my estimate of 5 and 10 years is woefully askew.

OR, must try harder to practise longer. This, I think, is where kids have the advantage - they can practice all they like, they don’t have responsibilities to wrestle with.

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

Tom referred above to Ivan Galamian’s superb book "Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching". It has now recently been republished by Dover at an accessible and modest price, and can be purchased from Amazon.

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

The "effortful practice" which is needed to attain excellence can be thought of as Problem Solving. If you’re not identifying problems and asking yourself "why" something is a problem (which is the first step towards a solution), and then working out a solution, then time is being wasted as regards development of technique.

Some posters above have mentioned 10,000 hours in relation to other activities such as sport and athletics. It is worth pointing out that playing some musical instruments - the violin and piano in particular - is essentially a micro-athletic activity involving coordination, strength, speed, stamina and skill.

The "10,000 hours to excellence" rule also seems to apply in some intellectual and professional areas. A fully qualified medical doctor will have done about 10,000 hours of fairly hard grind on the way, as will someone doing a higher post-graduate degree, if you consider that the real work starts at school in the two or three years leading up to tertiary education.

Some professions do not allow their practioners to be registered (i.e. allowed to be let loose on the public) until they have reached the age of 25, which in itself implies many thousands of hours of training and experience on the way; although the reason for "25" being chosen may have more to do with the developing maturity of the young adult in their mid-twenties - note how car insurance companies reduce the premiums for drivers when 25 is reached.

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

Why measure maturity with lowered car insurance premiums, wouldn’t more bicycling be the more mature, progressive way to go, lazyhound?

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Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

Although probably not primarily a decision based on the observation of natural progression towards adult maturity at around the age of 25, that transition age applied by car insurance companies must be a pragmatic business decision based on the statistics of accident claims received.

It is a matter of common observation in human society over the centuries and millennia that there is a sudden and obvious accession of maturity in young adults in their mid-twenties, and you know they are more able to see the consequences of their actions and are now ready to take responsibilty for their actions and lives. However, a significant amount of the cycling I see every day in my home town, although done by adults over a wide age range, regrettably cannot by any stretch of the imagination be described as mature or responsible :(

Re: Does 10,000 Hours Playing Equate with Excellence?

"natural progression towards adult maturity at around the age of 25…"

What?? I feel like I missed that boat. 25?!