10,000 Hours or 22,000 Days?

Before the Downbeat

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This week, I have been observing our students in a myriad of performance situations:  playing recitals; performing year-end performance juries; taking final exams.  The practice rooms and libraries are filled.  The stress level is high.  Everyone is pressed for time, trying to squeeze in one more precious hour.

Recent research and a popular book have theorized that it takes 10,000 hours for a human to become proficient and considered an expert at something.  It seems so easy:  Put in the Time, Collect the Dime.  I think most adults can see some truth in this theory based on their own experiences.  Driving a car is a great example.  While we are learning, we are cognizant of every movement, every decision, every possibility.  After time, we become very natural at it.  It almost becomes a reflexive action.  (For example, when’s the last time you thought about—really concentrated on—operating the turn signal?)

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