You DO have enough time.

Hey there,

Practicing has been a hot topic issue for musicians for ages. What to practice, when to practice, and for how long are long debated issues with convoluted and almost always differing answers.

Malcom Gladwell, author and staff writer for The New Yorker, suggests in his national bestselling book “Outlier” that it takes someone 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” in order to become world-class in any field.

In a world where we are always short on having enough time, it’s seemingly impossible to dedicate that much time to something. In a recent Ted Talk, author Josh Kaufman suggested that the ‘first 20 hours’ is the best way to learn anything.

Kaufman goes on to explain the method to accomplishing this. I run into this as a music teacher - often my students, when asked if they practiced during the week, will say they practiced but didn’t improve. Kaufman says we can’t just fiddle around for 20 hours and expect massive improvements. He explains there is an intelligent and more efficient way to practice and I believe his method will help us as musicians as well.

Deconstruct the skill. The first step is to figure out decisively what we want to be able to do or reproduce by the time we’re done - set an ultimate goal. The more we can break apart or deconstruct a skill, the more we’re able to decide what parts of the skill will get us closer to getting to where we want to be.

In a musical context, our ultimate goal could be “I want to play like Stevie Ray Vaughn.” In order to breakdown Stevie Ray Vaughn’s play-style, we could split our goal into smaller, more achievable goals. If we learned the individual techniques used by the legend himself, we could get closer to our goal of playing like him. That means ‘playing like Stevie’ should not be our goal. We should first start with learning string raking, quarter-note bends, and playing with vibrato. Spending more time working on these smaller goals will ultimately help us achieve our higher skill goals.

Ultimately, there’s no way of getting out of practice. There’s no real short cuts. It takes a lot of hard work. But if you are willing to dedicate 45 minutes of deliberate and well-spent practice a day, after just a couple of months, the results might just amaze you! You do have enough time. And that goal is just within reach.


-Adrian Gonzalez


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Adrian Gonzalez