The 10,000 hours principle
You may know about the 10,000 hours principle. This is the theory put forward by author and researcher Malcolm Gladwell, that to achieve excellence or expert status in a given field takes more or less 10,000 hours of practice.
Not everyone accepts this theory. But there are numerous examples of seemingly natural talents who, on closer inspection, have in fact clocked up 10,000 hours or more developing their skills in their field of choice.
This includes virtually everyone from tennis champions and chess grand masters to businessmen and guitarists.
The maths of 10,000 hours of guitar practice
So how long does it actually take to clock up 10,000 hours of guitar practice? The graph below shows this based on how much daily practice you can do (click to enlarge):
If you average 1 hour of practice per day then it will take you 27.4 years to achieve your 10,000 hours of guitar practice. If you can do 4 hours a day it will take you 6.8 years.
This graph ought to be inspirational, after all, a few hours of daily practice doesn’t sound like much to become a guitar master. There is one crucial detail that needs to be highlighted though.
The 10,000 hours principle does not mean 10,000 hours of noodling or playing through songs and exercises that we can already do at speeds that don’t challenge you. It means 10,000 hours of deliberate, conscious, highly focussed guitar practice in which you are striving to improve some aspect of your guitar playing.
The important thing is therefore to ensure that you get the most from your practice sessions. Identify what you want to achieve, devise exercises that address specific issues, set targets, and be as focused as a laser when you practise.
The admin of achieving 10,000 hours of guitar practice
Time and keep records of your practice sessions.
Stop the clock if you go for a cup of tea and keep things brutally honest. Your records will keep you motivated, inspire you to squeeze even more out of the time you have available, and you will quickly see significant improvements.
See my article Practice and spreading yourself too thinly for more on good quality guitar practice and if you haven’t already done so, you can sign up to my mailing list receive a free guitar practice eBook on devising an effective practice regime.
You can also use my guitar practice calculator to help set and work to a long term target. 10,000 hours of guitar practice is a daunting prospect, but break it down into a manageable regime and the mountain starts to look more like a series of moderate sized hills ready to be hiked.
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