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Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by john7401, Feb 15, 2010.
Thanks for your thoughts and advice everyone.
This got me to thinking: there is a school of thought that says there really isn't such a thing as being "gifted", but rather an intense desire and willingness to achieve excellence, and that this can be achieved with about 10,000 hours of focused practice. At 10 hours a day (with days off of course) mastery is attainable in the 4 years of a typical undergraduate career.
The corollary to this is that even a dedicated comeback player practicing 1 hour a day needs 30 years to reach mastery....
Another thing I once heard was a comment Dr Hickman made about practice...If I remember correctly, he said 5 hours daily separates the serious from the non-serious students. He further modified this statement by saying 5 hours intense playing counts as 6, while 5 hours easy playing with many rests counted as only 4.
There is a point at which the 5 hours, 6 hours, 7 hours, whatever, becomes incidental. It is merely a component of a 24 hour immersion. This isn't only for musicians, it happens to anyone who becomes intensely focused in developing their "art."
Such practicing is not extreme, it's simply natural.
A series of 1 hour daily practice sessions will never add up to the same thing, even if you could practice for 100 years.
I remember Claude Gordon saying that after Clarke died he wanted to review the Walter Smith Lip Flexibilities book. He played every single exercise 100x perfectly working through exercises 1-10 each day. I am sure that took several hours. He admitted that it was a little overkill. But, that would definitely insure accuracy.
I know Doc used play the entire Clarke's Technical Studies book everyday. Claude had his students do that and it usually takes about 4.5 hours to do well.
Everyone has probably heard of Mendez practicing 12 hours a day.
I agree that there has to be some point of diminishing returns. But, accurate repetition is definitely something that has benefited all the great players previously mentioned.
Several months ago I read an interesting book entitled "The Talent Code" by Daniel Coyle, which makes some interesting points about how we learn. He explains how the brain and body get more efficient as we successfully repeat various tasks. The same applies to all kinds of skills.
My trumpet professor, Gerald Webster, was of the opinion that really good players have spent about nine months with extreme practice. His approach was that good practice is like adding money to your wallet, that the practice builds a reserve, so that in the event we can't practice, we can still make through the gig.
My approach to practice is to practice six days, and take the seventh off. That allows recovery time, and is good for the head, too.
Believe me, the gifted DO exist! There are lazy gifted and dedicated gifted. Life is sometimes not fair in that respect.
I would encourage you to read that book. It's interesting.
It goes against the nature vs. nurture question. It's more complex than that. He talks about various factors that have resulted in great athletes and musicians and the phenomena that usually results in what he calls "talent hotbeds" that form in various parts of the world. Various teachers and coaches have unusual success. He studies it and shows what the common factors are.
One of the cool things for me to learn was how our body produces a material called myelin that acts as an insulation around the nerves and electrical connections through the body. As we repeat something our body forms more of myelin. It is in effect like upgrading the bandwidth of the wiring on your computer network. Things become more insulated and the speed of the signals becomes faster and cleaner. The repetition forms that.
Some people that appear to have more talent in effect have more myelin, which makes what they are doing click faster. The point that Coyle makes is that even if some people innately has more myelin we can grow more of it. Our body and brain develop with more use.
Some other factors are correct technique and inspiration and desire inside the person. The book also talks about how students respond to different teaching if they are encouraged to work hard or if they are told they are smart or talented.
It's a very interesting topic.