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The 10,000 Hour Rule

Many of you might have come across the rule of 10,000 hours, proposed by Swedish psychologist Gladwell the 1000 hour rule suggests that exceptional expertise requires at least 10,000 hours of practice. When I first learnt about this rule I thought, 10,000 hours? that doesn't seem much, it is just a little over an year. As less as 10,000 hours may sound at first and you might think to yourself "I am sure, I have practiced that much already", one can't be more wrong.

The first question is how much can you productively practice every day? Perhaps an hour or a couple of hours but can you do that each and every day? Probably not. So lets assume that we practice one hour every day - that means we need 10,000 days worth of practice to have an exceptional expertise - that is more than 27 years!

One can argue that there are people born with exceptional talent. That is true - but exceptions are always there. There are people who are pitch perfect and they are born that way. But then we must take into account the children who are born in super musical surroundings - some of the most brilliant singers go to church and have been listening (and probably singing) ever since they were in their mother's womb. Some introverted people - spend hours and hours with their instrument as it provides them immense peace. Sometimes even the most "talented" people will tell you how much they practice. Every minute counts towards productive practice, whether it is a warm up session in your room or if it is a gig at the national stadium. Session musicians spend almost every evening playing a gig and day time rehearsing - they practice every day for hours.

While I was studying my degree in music, my tutor used to insist we pursue it like a 9 to 5 job and divide our time between academic stuff, rehearsing, networking and performing. Perhaps, this is one reason why it takes people over 7 years to achieve a doctorate in a subject - they have put in time and energy into practicing their art.

There are lot of criticisms to this theory, art is often seen as a talent that one is born with and does not need to be worked upon. However, talent cannot be taken for granted but hard work does pay off.



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