Whatever the current news cycle says, the number 10,000 does show up with some regularity, when it comes to the time required to build expertise in a given area. It was made famous by Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers, which described various experts, musical and otherwise, who spent right around 10,000 hours honing their craft to reach a level considered to be "expert."
The number 10,000 is also familiar to those who have studied the pedagogical ways of Shinichi Suzuki, father of the Suzuki Method. He frequently told his students, including his violin-teacher students, to play something 10,000 times to achieve mastery..
I have no doubt that spending this many hours at something helps one to be very adept at it, particularly if those hours are spent in quality practice or playing. As always, "it depends."
But no matter how great the quality of your practice, there is an element of quantity required. How are you doing, when it comes to putting in the hours? Have you reached 10,000 hours? How long did it take you to get there? Are you halfway there? Just at the beginning? Well over the mark?
I did some math, to help everyone along. If you play for one hour a day, it will take you a little more than 27 years to log 10,000 hours. If you play two hours a day, it will take nearly 14 years. If you play three hours a day (this is every day, mind you), you can expect to reach 10,000 hours in about nine years. Four hours a day, about seven years. Six hours a day, it will only take four and a half years, provided that you don't injure yourself. There is a point of diminishing returns!
Looking at the numbers, the 10,000 hours idea rings rather true.
After four decades of playing the violin, I've certainly logged my 10,000 hours playing, and probably teaching as well. How about you? And what do you think of the 10,000-hour concept?
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