10,000 hours

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Glennx, Jun 17, 2010.

  1. Glennx

    Glennx Pianissimo User

    Aug 16, 2009
    I'm a comeback player and endure a 2-hour daily return commute to my day job. Alas, I don't think my fellow straphangers would appreciate me practicing the horn on the bus at 7:00am <sigh> so I listen to a lot of audio books. Malcolm Gladwell's 'Outliers' has a fascinating chapter on what it takes to become expert that will be of interest to any player here, particularly to those aspiring to become pros.

    To summarize: he explains that research shows that it generally takes about 10,000 hours of application (study/practice) to become a recognized expert in most fields, including music. He cites the Beatles year's in the Hamburg clubs, long before they became noticed in '64, where they played for hours and hours every day for months; and studies undertaken in a university music faculty that divided wannabe musicians into three groups according to the opinions of their professors. Those in the top group started like everyone else around age 8 or so with the usual 30-45 minutes/week...but by the time they were in their mid-teens were practicing 2 hours/day; at least 3 hours/day by their late teen years; and more in their final student years. Without exception, these were the ones who became the top performers.

    The book goes on to look at sports teams, people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, geniuses, etc., ...always examining the real factors that influence and bring about phenomenal success. The overall conclusion? Being modestly talented above a certain level is an important factor, but getting there is mostly hard work - at least 10,000 hours of it.

    A highly recommended read.
  2. s.coomer

    s.coomer Forte User

    Mar 25, 2005
    Indianapolis, In
    I could not agree more with what you have said.
  3. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    Be careful to not confuse real science with real literature. The person who wrote this is best known as an author, not a scientist. Spurious correlations and assumptions and not factoring in such things as the economics of the time (1840's is known for many things, among them, land owners and an influx of immigration)are easy to get trapped up in.
    I'll give you an example of NOT 10,000 hours.
    During WWII we saw the creation of the GI Bill which allowed many ordinary joes to go to college. Before the GI Bill, a person usually had to be of wealth to go to college.
    Intresting effect. Many of the soldiers who went to college did very well and often surpassed their richer counterparts. Why? The best reason I've heard is this:
    "It's a matter of perspective, College Algebra is simple when compared to the horrors of war." Now remember, these soliders for the most part didn't have the academic background of their rich counterparts when entering college.
    There is sooooooo much we don't know about the human brain and how learning takes place, that to place even a general boundry on something such as "how long it takes to get great" is bolder than I would go.
    Another example:
    A guy who had little to no traning in piano was struck by lightening. About two weeks later he described himself as "compelled to play the piano". Guess what? His piano playing is actually pretty good and it did not take 10,000 hours to get there. I think the name of his piece is called The lightening Sonata.
    Here's something I will go on. The harder I work, the luckier I get.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2010
  4. Sofus

    Sofus Forte User

    Jul 26, 2008
    You can learn to play DHC in 6216 hours.

    37 weeks x 7 days/week x 24 hours/day

    which is not much more than half the 10.000 hours!

    There is also a book to tell you how!

    Last edited: Jun 17, 2010
  5. Alex_C

    Alex_C Piano User

    May 30, 2010
    Gilroy, California
    I found a had a talent for a sport. That, to me, meant I had to work HARDER not just coast like others with the same talent did, because with some hard work I could get somewhere. I think there are "naturals" and the "naturals" who also work hard really get places. At first I was good, good concentration for 30 minutes or so. It took me about a year to build up to practicing 1-2 hours a day. In a couple more years I was what I'd consider "competent" by then I'd won Nationals a couple of times and had a world ranking. I was to the point where the serious work could begin.

    10,000 hours? No. But certainly some dedication over a length of time.

    A basic amount of skill in trumpet will be FAR more rewarding.
  6. amzi

    amzi Forte User

    Feb 18, 2010
    Northern California
    I'm not familiar with Gladwell's book, but I am somewhat familiar with the work of K. Anders Ericsson, et. al. As I understand it, Ericsson believes that mastery of a musical discipline requires approximately 10,000 hours of intense and intentioned practice occurring over approximately a decade (both the hours and the years are important). There are, of course other factors that contribute to the mastery of a discipline and the principles can be applied to other areas.

    So, if you practice 3 hours a day, 7 days a week for 10 years, you're probably going to be as good as you will ever get. Many make the mistake of assuming that adhering to the "10,000 Hour Rule" guarantees success or mastery.
  7. oldenick

    oldenick Pianissimo User

    Apr 10, 2007
  8. Alex_C

    Alex_C Piano User

    May 30, 2010
    Gilroy, California
    Amzi that sounds right to me, most of the people I competed with had been in the game for a decade or more, and their performance was more consistent. I'd be really good at times, and really awful at times, which is OK, if you can kick ass 50% of the time in a sport, you can accomplish a lot, whereas the guy who's in the middle all the time will just stay there. Consistancy comes with years of experience.

    And I agree on the 10,000 hours = as good as you're going to get, not = genius.
  9. Asher S

    Asher S Pianissimo User

    Sep 20, 2009
    Suburban Boston
    I read "Outliers", and although I found it amusing, I did not see any real, concrete evidence supporting most of Gladwell's claims, including the "10,000 hours" theory. There are so many variables unaccounted for, as described above, including the quality of practice in addition to the quantity...

    His example of the Beatles' thousands of hours gigging live in Berlin doesn't explain the sheer compositional genius of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison, and doesn't jive with the fact that the Beatles were not much of a live performance group. They stopped playing concerts relatively early in the lifespan of the group.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2010
  10. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    oldenick sez:
    I really enjoyed reading Outliers. I think it is important to emphasize the 10,000 hours is for MASTERY in your field.
    There's the fly in the ointment right there. What's the operational definition of MASTERY?
    I've been at it since the 1960's, play and conversed with some of the the best in the world and I'm still learning. I do not see myself as a MASTER or close to becoming a MASTER. Some may see me as such but I do not see it in myself. However, if being the best version of me that I can be is a MASTER then I'll be working on that goal until I die. A MASTER to me is someone that has a skill I want. All I know is that I'm the best trumpet player setting in this chair.
    My 7 year old daughter has friends that consider her a MASTER and covet her skill.
    Is a MASTER a title that society places upon a person or is it something that is gained through teaching like Karate where the person is given "belts" or maybe getting a Master's degree in something is a MASTER?
    On a positive note. I don't think playing for 10,000 hours will hurt anybody as long as its INTELLIGENT playing.

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