Sunday, August 14, 2011

Just do it!

Can't tell you how many times we've seen our students hover over

the correct note to hit but they can't bring themselves to hit it
:-). We whisper in their ear "just hit it" and magically it
happens. For those book learners, there is a great book called
"This is Your Brain on Music" by D.J. Levitin. There's a great
section that deals with talent and being a virtuoso. The author
claims that research studies show it's 10000 hours or practice
makes a virtuoso and not talent. Studies maintain that 10K hours
or practice are required to become a 'world class expert in
anything'. 10K hours of practice is the equivalent of 3 hours/day
of practice for at least 10 years. After playing with a bunch of
yang-qin players, I'm convinced this is true. One cohort of
HD player/festival instructors (Ken, Linda, Rick, Karen, Nick,
Dan, Russell, Dana, John, myself, Wes, etc.) is at a certain
skill level simply because of the number of years we've played
the HD. The more senior cohort of Sam, Malcolm, Walt, Paul
simply have more hours than we do. The younger
player/instructors like the Tinas, Brenda, Sam, and others are
at another "practice" level. In other words, the 3 cohorts I
mentioned (and there are a ton more) are at different spots in
the 10K practice cycle. I personally believe that practice gives
you the skill set you need to be creative. Talent is how you put
everything together. The less you have to think about HOW to do
something, the more you can think about WHAT to do. Bottom line
is that to become a better player, you must practice. The amount
of practice depends on what else is going on in your life and
your motivation to become a better player. Play to enjoy the music,
practice appropriately. Play to become a performer, practice
accordingly. Play to match the international players,
start now because 10 years is a long time :-).

originally posted 2/15/2008 to hammered dulcimer listserv