How much should I practice?

 

A famous pianist once said that it takes 10,000 hours to acquire technical proficiency.  Obviously we all learn at different rates, but if we accept this number as reasonable, hereís what it means in terms of daily practice time:

 

Daily practice time in hours:      Years to achieve proficiency:

 

                  1                                                      27.4

                  2                                                      13.7

                  3                                                        9.1

                  4                                                       6.8

                  5                                                        5.5

                  6                                                       4.6

                  7                                                       3.9

                  8                                                       3.4

 

Oneís learning rate varies not just among individuals, but also with age.  The peak for acquiring motor control appears to come at about age sixteen.  In each succeeding year, it becomes a little harder to learn new patterns of finger motion.  You can teach an old dog new tricks, but it takes longer.  This means that someone practicing one hour per day will likely NEVER achieve real proficiency, even after thirty years of practice.

 

Eight hours a day may seem excessive, but lots of people are doing it, including the person you will compete against for that position youíre dreaming about.  Should you give up . . . NO!    Thereís also the matter of intelligent and efficient practice.  Itís possible to be very competitive with four hours of consistent, thoughtful, and well-planned practice.  A little talent doesnít hurt either, but intelligent application is what matters most.J