So how DO you get to Carnegie Hall anyway?

November 27, 2008 at 05:34 PM ·

Can't wait to get my hands on this book. I read Gladwell's "Blink" last year, and it was fascinating. This one looks equally promising.

Replies (27)

November 27, 2008 at 06:00 PM ·

Interesting. I'll have to get those books!

November 27, 2008 at 06:53 PM ·

or be a member of a school group in one of the many uptown, uppity Starbuck's communities who cough up a bunch of money, bus the group to the Big City and the group performs one number to all the gleeful Mommies who can now say Junior and/or Buffy played in Carnegie Hall...just another example of our out-of-touch society

November 27, 2008 at 10:16 PM ·



November 27, 2008 at 10:28 PM ·

Don't forget his first book, The Tipping Point, which has implications for anyone interested in promoting classical music.  Basically, I "subscribe" to Gladwell's books.  Hmm, I guess I do have a reason to brave tomorrow's crowds after all...

November 28, 2008 at 01:58 AM ·

 10.000 hours at $100 per hour => $1.000.000, formidable investment prerequisite :-)

November 28, 2008 at 02:47 AM ·

Gladwell's books are great.  I've read the Tipping Point as well as Blink and both were fascinating.  I just ordered a copy of Outliers.  Thanks for bringing this to our attention Ruth.


November 28, 2008 at 02:59 AM ·

Hi Ruth,

Thanks for the link to the article. Carnegie Hall is located on the southeast corner of W.57th street and 7th avenue in Manhattan for those that might be interested in going  there someday!


November 28, 2008 at 06:00 AM ·

I found that Gladwell's books seemed interesting and informative to me -- up to a point. That point was about 1/2 way through the first book and closer to the front in the second.  After that I thought he took his analogies too far. I wonder what I'll think of this one.

But the 10,000 hrs  had been written of many years earlier.  I've just finished reviewing some early Sarah Chang videos and it seems to me there is no way she could have played for 10,000 hrs before some of those marvelous early concerts.


November 28, 2008 at 01:37 PM ·

often, when people want to make a point or a stand, sell a book or a concept, and have it easily remembered,  they usually coin a phrase or something that is easier on the tongue or the brain.   essentially, it is a product of marketing.  instead of boring people with phrases like thousands of hours,,,10,000 is more catchy.     the numerous habits of highly successful people? nah,, make it 7.   men are from one place, women are from another?  try, mars and venus.  the fact that we think of them as being over the top indicates that we have paid attention and responded,  something that marketing drives at.

concur that there are many exceptions to that 10,000 hr thingy since  everything follows a bell curve.   there is that story that a beginner goes up to a golf pro and asks,,,how do you hit that shot?  well, the pro says, you really need to swing one hundred thousand times before you can understand it.  the number may not be factual but the message is.

still, when i read something, be it a piece of one pager or one volume,,,if i can take away with just one thing that is beneficial and memorable, i am thankful:)   not an easy task because there are so much misinfo and noises out there.

in this case,  the take home msg for me, which confirms my own belief,  is that working very hard is often not good enough,,,,one needs to work  very, very hard.    in this highly competitive world,  in every aspect, including training intensity and cumulative effect, there is a big difference between number one and number two.

perhaps unfortunately to most folks, there is a pervasive winner-take-it- all mentality pretty much in every field. i let my kids read that link and afterwards i asked:  so who is the number one swimmer in the world?

phelps!!!!!!!!  they screamed.

ok.   who is number 2?


( perhaps most of us do not work very, very hard to bother to know that :)

November 28, 2008 at 01:41 PM ·

I loved _Blink_ too.  Wasn't that the book that had a section about Abbie Conant, the trombonist?  She (and Gladwell in telling her story) make a very strong case for having orchestra auditions take place behind a screen.

November 28, 2008 at 02:02 PM ·

Hi Al,

I was glad you mentioned Phelps and his 8 gold medals this summer. Phelps really loves his fast food , McDonalds and always eating out ,I was thinking  in the long run is he going to be O.K? His story is fascinating though. Mark Spitz being #2 with 7 golds seems to be a happy  family man,enjoying life and a multi-millionaire designing swimming pools for those living in California.


November 28, 2008 at 02:19 PM ·

yes craig,  for those of us old enough to remember, spitz was the da man.

they probably monitor phelps much easier these days with his,,,um, 10,000 calorie per day diet (actually 12,000 but i round it off) , which is 5-6 times more than an average person's daily intake, discounting yesterday of course:)

i must say, having been to quite a few places and tried different regional diets,,, japanese diet is by far the the most healthful.  unfortunately, with the way we pollute the ocean,,,

November 28, 2008 at 02:52 PM ·

Al, I agree with you, is it really possible to mesure these hours? Very hard work is a more appropriate word in my opinion.  And violin is something that you can lose a little if you have , for some reason, to cut the hours you practice. I have heard that Fritz Kreisler was someone who played and quit the violin often since he has work has a doctor for a while, fought at world war 1, studied painting in Italy etc.  He has stoped his practicing in his elder days and just played at gigs, if I remember well what was written on his biography!!!!!!  Overall, he did many hours, but he surely had a more special talent to be able to do all these things at the same time and succed well (in some times) with hardly or any practicing. 


Only my two cents, but the lecture of this book is surely fun however!


November 28, 2008 at 06:01 PM ·

So it all boils down to the old punchline - Practice, practice. . . .


November 29, 2008 at 08:32 PM ·

Al and Anne-Marie,

Round numbers may be convenient, but it is not simply a catch-phrase.  My immediate thought was that Daniel Levitin pointed it out earlier in a fairly straightforward, factual way.

November 30, 2008 at 12:15 AM ·

Maybe, but the exact amount of hours seem (in my humble opinion) to be a very hard thing to mesure accurately + I think some very young prodigies didn't do as much hours (because they didn't have live long ennough) and have succeded in playing better than the majority of us here before 10 years old of age!  But it is only my opinion and the book is surely instructive!


November 30, 2008 at 12:17 AM ·

ok,,,the kids insisted on dropping by a bookstore just now and while they did their thing,,,i walked over to a set up where all 3 books were featured, about 10 feet from the entrance.

and i glanced through couple chapters and there is this one study highlighted in the book,,,

in the 90s, in berlin's academy of music, the profs conspired to divide the violinists into 3 groups:

1. those they think can make it as soloists.

2.  those they think are just good.

3. those they think will end up as teachers in public school !!!(now,  i swear i did not make this up and personally find it a rather odd of a catagory, if not outright uncomfortable or offensive, to the point that i chuckled and mumbled,,boy.  but in the name of science, we continue..)

in a nut shell,,,group 1 practiced 10k hours,,group 2 praticed 8k hours and group 3 practiced 4k hours. 

another observation:  all started around age 5 or so and up until age 8,,,everyone,,ie all 3 groups, practiced about the same.

however, number of hour of practice starts to differ starting age 8, then 9, then 10, so on,  eventually leading to the 10k, 8k, 4k final numbers.


then somewhere in the book there is this observation that a bunch of US high tech exes were born in 1955.  huh?...

then there is this observation that a bunch of US billionaires, born in the 1800's, were born within 90 years of each other.    hmmm....

if i get any of above wrong, it is because i am slightly confused:)





November 30, 2008 at 01:54 AM ·

Hi Al,

Thanks for your review. It's sunny in here today!!


November 30, 2008 at 03:25 AM ·

Al: Re: Auditions/Screens. I had an interesting notion for your consideration re: auditions behind a screen. I read that judges will always pick winners if they have a choice. In fact, if a contest/competition is not anonymous, it is by definition an admission that other factors will be considered that you will never know about. So a person with a track record as a winner, has to really work to screw things up, whereas a unknown/nonwinner, has to do far better to win. Take youth orchestras as a simple example. ff they are not behind a screen, they are probably weighing the kids age and teacher, posture, attittude, motivation, appearance and all the bias pro and con, that go with that. As you mention, vetting the students. Therefore, if you enter a contest and you win, you are exponentially more likely to win twice or three times. If by chance a judge knows you have entered before and not won, they are also far less likely to pick you as compared to someone who has never entered. Why is this so? A winner lowers the perceived risk to their judging reputation. While I don't agree with this approach, it seems to make sense when you think about human nature.

Also "politics" such as teacher, recommendations, resume, etc. help lower the perceived risk. What if you take a chance and the guy/gal is a flake? This is in many fields not just music. People will often hire an eagle scout if all things are equal for many jobs. A proven winner. The anonyomous audition  is judged on the playing and relative to the playing of contestants who have already played and have yet to play on a praticular day. Totally different. People in general avoid pain first and chase pleasure when they think the risk is managed. Even behind a screen judges look for a winner even if it is in their mind. Better they say to pick something with the same character as a masterpieces but without 50 famous recordings by 50 famous artists.

November 30, 2008 at 04:15 AM ·

j,  "People in general avoid pain first and chase pleasure when they think the risk is managed."  absolutely.  i think it is universal, tested by time. 

in a sense,  people with that line of thinking tend to reject outliers:), not sure if they lie really on the right or left side of the curve and stick instead with the middle,,,as confucius suggested long ago:), to be the bureaucrat, to not to rock the boat, to buy the mutual fund, to get that house on the block that is not the biggest nor the smallest,  to bet on the horse that has won,  with the recent election, to try to hold onto something perhaps undesirable but perhaps known,,,with violin making, certain strad models tend to be the norm,,,with violin competition, as forrest gump said,,,life is box of chocolate:)   to tell a kid that you go to this competition to get experience is not the whole picture because it may not be just musical experience:)   

outliers with true convictions, however,  are the ones who move forward against currents and create new paradigms, such as  paganini with violin, galileo with his theories... 

in the business world, entrepreneurial spirits are alive and kicking.  there is always someone ready to take your cheese.   with classical music, at some level, it may look like its engine runs on feudalism:)

November 30, 2008 at 06:01 AM ·

there was NO conspiratory divide among officiandos,twas merely sales receipts !

December 1, 2008 at 03:50 PM ·

"the pro says, you really need to swing one hundred thousand times before you can understand it.  the number may not be factual but the message is."

The number of practice hours put in is not the important factor here.  People learn at different levels.  Some learn quicker then others and don't need to saw away for 10,000 hours before they are recognized as having a special talent, gifted as they say, for playing the violin.

This relates to the numerous discussion's here on motivation and motivating kids to practice.   A kid who has an affinity for their instrument will practice without being told to do so.  Will probably practice too much because they love the instrument so well that it's all they want to do.  So, yeah, you can say the great soloist probably practiced 10,000 hours but they did so willingly, not because they had to.

A very good violinist can be trained with the right motivation...but no amount of practice can substitute for a natural ability to play the instrument well.  If your goal in life is to be a soloist, you either have 'it' or you don't.   This is true in all fields, not just music.  Great artists, great scientists, they all have natural-born instincts that made them great in their fields.

The rest of us need to be happy with what talent we have and appreciate those who have more and make our world a better place.

December 1, 2008 at 03:42 PM ·

tess,,,i am not sure if you play golf so i will stay on violin, since i don't play violin:)

my reaction to a specific number has been previously stated, that it serves to illustrate a point.   whether the point is valid or not,,i guess it depends on many things, mainly our own perspectives and experiences.

reality sometimes is not well explained through academics. i do know personally some supremely talented ones, who probably have put in twice the suggested 10k,  still waiting for fate to knock on their doors,,,

December 1, 2008 at 04:07 PM ·

Ha!  I am a good example here, Al.  When I took my first golf lesson I was told I had a natural talent for the game.  I happen to be one of those naturally athletic people so being good at a sport is easy for me.   My husband is a talented golfer and I didn't play the game until I was an adult and he encouraged me to start lessons.  He regrets it now.


December 1, 2008 at 07:27 PM ·

haha, that he regrets it more places to run and hide! :)

so, besides bragging  that you are as talented in golf as in violin:) do you find any lessons in golf that are helpful for your violin, or vice versa?

December 1, 2008 at 11:51 PM ·

Al, I would never be so bold as to say I am a talented violinist!  Now, I could probably out run many violinist on the forum while carrying my violin...but not the same thing.  :-)


December 2, 2008 at 12:51 AM ·


        Just saw an  interesting article on Yahoo about a Youtube contest for classical musicians to work with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, composer Tan Dun and others to perform the "Internet Symphony No. 1  Eroica" at Carnegie Hall in April 09'.

You already have a great Mozart Concerto video on youtube you're half way there.


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