The Deliberate Musician

Deliberate Practice: The Key to Improvement in Music and Teaching
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On the horn you are playing much simpler music, but striving for purity of tone, intonation and connection between the notes, plus playing in a convincing lyrical way. And physical endurance is a big issue, so just putting in the hours and right kind of playing is in fact crucial to keep your chops strong. Good work, keep it up. Thanks for the note.

Thank you for sharing such an insightful and thought-provoking article! I am now rethinking not only my own practice, but my requirements and suggestions for students as well. Bravissimo, maestro! I work from home. I do have a question. For me, the issue has been getting myself to the practice room. I find it hard to get motivated and practice. How do I keep myself motivated to the point where I will practice every day instead of every other day??

If the difficulty lies in getting started, perhaps commit to playing for 1 minute, and then you can quit if you want? Great question, but also a tricky one. I probably end up playing guitar on a good day for up to seven hours or more just messing around with song ideas or with other people jamming. I do I guess practice improvisation a lot because that is mostly what i do when I play guitar.

This article seems to pointed more to classical musicians particularly violinists. This Article is very good but I am unsure of how I would apply this to me playing guitar unless I was learning a hard song or going to play a gig with songs I wrote or covers? Deliberate practice applies anytime we are trying to improve a specific skill as effectively as possible. Are there technical challenges on your instrument where you could benefit from improvement of some kind? This is one pretty straightforward area where deliberate practice would come into play.

I will be marching DCI drum corps international this summer. For a Drum Corps practicing more than 12 hours per day is an everyday thing for us, however this does include physical training as well. Sounds like an intense summer ahead! In regards to your question, the key is differentiating between playing rehearsing, playing through, etc. So how do you encourage children or teens to work effectively? Cognitive development must play a part in being able to apply these principals — or do kids naturally apply these principals when doing something that they love?

I ask this question because I have noticed that kids and teens naturally go through love-hate relationships with things they love. The problem with the hate phase is that this is when the kid or teen only time that they play is in a lesson, progress becomes slow and they are most likely to become disenchanted with music-making in general. I do know that kids can very naturally fall into deliberate practice mode without any prompting from adults. Because there were goals, problems and puzzles to solve, and a clear sense of progress. If kids can find a way to make playing more about solving puzzles and less about putting in time or just learning notes, they may find it more engaging.

Good luck! This is what I have been looking for my son. He has been playing for about two years now, he is in a great music academy. The one area I think he needed work on was his practicing. I am very happy his teacher emailed me this article. My son has read through it and seemed to find the article very interesting. Noa Kageyama I wanted to know if your online course would be right for him he is 14yrs old and been playing for about 2yrs.

I also wanted to know if you are offering anything in Miami,Fl any time soon. The course is intended to help musicians perform better under pressure, so if he is not doing much performing at the moment, there might not be as much of an incentive to work on these skills. Not fun, not sexy, but for string players anyway, scales and arpeggios, intervals, and just deep rather than long approach. Also some people see practice as a form of meditation. Thanks for the additional insights. Indeed, I never understood the point of scales, etudes, etc. Then, it actually seemed sort of obvious how useful these exercises could be.

Phenomenal control, precision, and ease. I would like to add something to this post that many have not considered. As a matter of fact, it is a skill vital to practice that many of us slack off. That skill is the skill of good nutrition. I am 55 and not only is it a must for me to nourish my body, I am also fighting diabetes and per-menopause. Our health plays a vital role in our learning. I eat plenty of meat, fish, eggs, poultry, sea food, green leafy vegetables,bell peppers, whole milk, cream, cheese, butter, coconut oil, milk, coconut flour, sea vegetables, avocado, nuts, berries, cantalope, pumpkin, asparagus, cauliflower, brocolli and even that nasty cod liver oil is part of my dietary regimen.

Musicians are indeed athletes, believe it or not. I have yet to read where any one athlete begins his workout with processed junk food. This guide was very helpful! What if you cannot decide between two solutions? When doing the latter I discovered the notes are more connected and probably easier to play accurately. However, if I were to play much faster I think the lifting elbows and turning hands may take too much unnecessary energy and time.

I cannot decide between the two. What would you suggest overall, not necessarily my personal issue? Excellent question. It depends on the situation, but for me it depends on two things. Which increases the likelihood of being able to repeat the motion as effortlessly and consistently as possible. Of course, sometimes the more complex solution maximizes efficiency and ease. In this example, when playing faster, which serves the music best? But also consider that even if option 2 is slightly more complex, if you can prepare in advance, and minimize the amount of movement required when the notes in question arrive, this might actually be the more effective of the two choices.

Find Your Practice Groove

Mental Skills Training. IS IT PART OF YOUR PRACTICING PLAN? In music, mental training and toughness are just as important as talent and technique. Mental Skills Training teach you step-by-step everything you.

Practice is very important! At least to play some notes for one minute, then to come back to my daily work for 30, 60 or perhaps more minutes and to retake my violin again and play the same notes again. I notice my ability is not gone but the oposit! Noa Kageyama discusses how much is optimal and how much can be too much.

Even more importantly, he prioritizes and […]. Glad you found it helpful. Hope you are doing well and excited for summer to kick off. This article helped me so much and also helped me plan what I should do and correct later in my life! This article changed my life! You answered all the questions I was dying to ask in the article!

Perhaps it was true. Instead of trying, I pretended… I was friendly and smiled a lot, but I never allowed myself to be vulnerable. So I was friendly to everyone, but friends with no one. I am 65 years old now and still wish I had friends. We live in a very close neighborhood that abuts the campus of a prestigious private school.

So now I am going to practice that which i find difficult. I will make a point of joining whatever conversation is ongoing they are usually about the weather or the neighborhood or I will have a conversation topic ready in case I must initiate one. What an interesting twist on a music subject.

Clara keep in mind that you can add lots to a conversation just by listening. You may not have to say anything to be a part of a conversation. Einstein is thought to have had it yet he has left humanity with some of the most thoughtful expressions and quotes. I wish you well on your courageous endeavor.

CHeck back to let us know how you did. You might even want to keep a diary on the subject. I think people should practice for as long as they are enjoying practising, whether that be for 30 minutes or for hours on end. Deliberate practice is helpful for visual arts, too. It may or may not need to be slow, but the intention and focus and the systematic mastery of techniques is essential to giving creativity a full voice.

I have an Alexander Technique student who seems to have reduced himself to rote playing his own compositions to train himself to play them consistently. He too easily improvises almost irresistibly, so that the forms, arrangements and styles of his songs are eternally changing each time he plays them. For him, this notation issue will be taken care of once he can play these songs consistently from using recorded music notation software. He seems to never be arriving at a final form to the songs, because his abilities grow through practice.

What would you recommend to do about this sort of practice issue? Fear of it not being good enough, perhaps? Often fear masquerades as perfectionism or procrastination. Personally, I would praise him for developing an intelligence for improvising. THis takes much skill that many want, but are afraid of the endeavor.

For him to become skilled and accomplished at improvising and composing, he must complete eatch layer of practice. He needs to complete his writings so that he can appreciate his music now…not later. In order for him to become and accomplished musician in both his composition and improvisational skills he must focus on completing each piece of music. I would require that one piece of music must be completed before moving on to the next.

He just wants to do the easy parts without putting any effort into the more difficult aspects of his music. Noa Kageyama. Click […]. However, is there a way to make sure they listen to me when they go home? I think there has to be enough frustration, discouragement, aggravation i.

I suspect that if you engage in the kind of problem solving and questioning approach involved in deliberate practice during lessons, this will become more familiar and increase the likelihood of happening when they are guiding their own practice at home. But again, assuming they are invested in actually getting better vs.

Hello, I found this article very intresting! It made me think of the ways that sometimes short practices that are focused are better off than long ones that are up to 4 or so hours. But how do you know for sure how long you should be practicing? When we are given a piece by our teacher mentor , what is the best approach in ratio invested time, energy, focus and given to understand the piece and its full meaning? What do you suggest?? This is a good question, and probably requires a much longer response to fully address.

Start by knowing exactly what you want it to sound like, and work towards that from day 1. Otherwise, you essentially end up having to learn the same piece twice. I deal with this on a daily basis with my students. THe part that you need to question is your sight reading. You say you begin a piece to fast then ruin it. SO what should you do? I am assuming that you have your drivers license? Did you spend your first day behind the wheel, on the freeway? So why would sight reading be any different?

THere really is no such thing as sightreading. You must look at your music first. Figure out the keys AND watch for key changes. Use your yellow highlighter and highlight key changes. Write in the key change in big letters FM, dm,. Now play it and do not worry about mistakes…afterall you ARE sightreading but practice slowly enough that mistakes are minimalized. As you study your work THEN begin to study the content and the meaning behind it all.

A page which I follow on Facebook linked to this article about how many hours a day one should practice. Sometime I do go through many repetitions of a […]. Practicing day in and day out is one of the secret to achieve that medal-winning performance. Ask any decorated Olympian and […]. It was very interesting to read, and you covered a lot of points I and obviously many others find very interesting. Noa, excuse the translation. I was wondering if is possible to study 8hrs a day, with sessions based studies: first get what I want, try to repeat it, and then rest in between, no, 2 to 5 minutes, of course, with maximum concentration, and breaks to relax , clear, and meditate again on the following, rest well, I concentrate well, whenever I have that makes clear.

Remember not to get too caught up in the number of hours. If you are getting specific things accomplished, and continuing to learn, then great! No hace falta dedicar muchas […].


Ever bewitched […]. Noa Kageyama on this very subject, which you can find by clicking here. Having goals is so important. I find that a really worthwhile goal is to do SOME practice every day for days. Once my students have done the Day Practice Challenge, daily practice becomes a happy habit. Dear dr. Kageyama, thank you for this article. I would like to ask you if you think one can increase the ability to stay that focused for more than 4 hours a day? I am thinking about taking a course in meditation, and in the long term make this a daily habit.

Do you have any idea if this, if done correctly, could keep my concentration for a total of, say 6 hours a day? Some of it of course will also depend on sleep, diet, exercise, hydration, etc. Let me know how it goes! Loved the article. It would make a habit of it—and, as your article said, permanent. That was the best way to keep my mind at work, constantly edging myself to play it right for the twentieth time. Noa Kageyama explains how to be effective with minimal time. One tip he gives, which I also use, is to set and work towards goals. I think it should be pointed out that the technical phenom Valentina Lisitsa practices for hours per day.

However, I wager that she is far more efficient in organization of her practice than a beginner could ever aspire to be and may progress much farther than a standard pupil could in that period of time. Great article I really enjoyed it. I tell all of my students to pick one thing to practice until they get it mastered, then move on. I also tell them to visualize the practice before they begin. I tell them to close their eyes, breathe deeply, relax, get to the place of feeling good, and then visualize themselves practicing.

I have been doing this for years and it really works. Hope this helps, thanks again. Noa Kageyama has a great post on How many hours a day you should practice. You may also find these posts interesting — practice is a personal issue for most learners and professionals. This post does a nice job of explaining various considerations when when one does have the time to practice — whether you are a casual enthusiast or a professional musician.

The time spent in conceptualizing and visualizing every single gesture, from the first breath to the onset to the completion of a phrase in exactly the way you want it to go, concentrating on the feelings in the body and mind that go along with it, profoundly affect how it all goes when next you use the instrument.

Conceptualization must also have its own form of discipline. It starts with conceptualizing exactly what brush technique is, all the way down to how the fingers feel against the brush. Does this make sense? Michelangelo saw the sculpture in the stone before the first chunk was chipped off. All the mindful chipping in the world would be pointless without having first seen what was under the stone he was chipping at in the first place.

The other factor is endurance. As a trombonist, periodically needing to being able to finish a 2-hour evening concert after a 3-hour afternoon dress rehearsal is certainly a consideration in how much practice is necessary. I find that dividing my practice sessions up and taking appropriate breaks helps.

Stay tuned! For instance, I would think that playing a woodwind could cause damage to the reed or the the instrument itself if it were played 3 or 4 hours a day on a consistent basis. Like that old parable with the turtle and the hare…. It can be dangerous to advocate a certain amount of practice time for all musicians, because some of the greatest artists have had comparable results achieved by widely differing means. Arthur Rubinstein advocated practicing no more than three hours a day, as did Chopin and the greatest piano teacher of the 19th century, Theodor Leschetizky.

Josef Hofmann and Walter Gieseking needed to practice very little. On the other hand, pianists such as Claudio Arrau, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Rudolph Serkin, Vladimir Horowitz and Ruth Slenczynska achieved their artistry through sheer hard work and long hours of practice. Arrau was known to practice for up to 17 hours a day. Rachmaninoff, in his effort to achieve the same level of virtuosity as Josef Hofmann, practiced 15 hours a day.

Horowitz once said that he has to repeat passages endlessly because he gets so nervous onstage that his fingers have to be able to play without his head. He said he has to be able to play even if the house is burning down! Rudolph Serkin used to tell his students they should practice to the point of exhaustion, and then practice one more hour in order to build up endurance. Ruth Slencynska says students will experience physical pain and will learn to endure it. So it is not possible to recommend any one way to practice. It is abundantly evident that many great artists arrive at the peak of their profession by many different means.

The literature only suggests that there is a certain type of practice that results in greater gains per unit of time, and that there are limits to the amount of time one can spend engaged in such a highly focused state on a day to day basis. Man, this is something I learned 15 years after I struggled to understand why music was fun. I hated practicing as a kid.

Deliberate Practice for Musicians

Finally had a college professor give me some more informative ways of practicing. Still use that experience now even though I am playing just for fun for church. Kinda interesting this site was posted after I got off work. Not only is it useful in the music world, I think I may be able to take some of the tips and bring it with me to work. Some is intonations which with reading this page I think I may have an idea on how to fix it as well as how i phrase things. Then again, I do believe my music background will help me in the long run with this job with proper expression of the mood.

So i would like to know what is your suggestion in this cases, because I think that the amount of pieces one has to prepare is linked to the amount of hours one should study. How can you study all these pieces in 4 hours? Sometimes when we are slammed with repertoire we simply need more time to get through it all. Thank you for the fast answer. The only solution seems to be the one you suggested, because surely the amount of study is also linked to the practical duration of the pieces.

Thank you very much again. I played in an original band for 15 of those, but stopped 7 years ago. And as the days pass, I seem to lose more creativity which now has my confidence level at an all time low. Any suggestions? Sounds like a tough situation. I feel like a mentor or teacher would be in a better position of providing the best advice and guidance in your case, but I do have one thought. Thanks for your honesty anyways and providing an insight nonetheless.

However, I just hope that if it means auditioning, that I may fair well and find a band asap!! We do this in this generation more than ever. Text, e-mail, phone, web, food, car, music, conversation, gaming. It damages our lives and our minds. If we are studying anything with the intention of becoming a extra-ordinary then we need to learn to simplify and avoid context-shifting at all costs.

This will rob us of something very special that happens when we consume ourselves …. Will be interesting to see how it all plays out…. I know, too much to do, too little time!! As a result, my playing has been a bit more consistent then it has been which has been my frustration. Maybe this is the direction I need to head into?? More patience, little by little, step by step indulgence….. He said he paints ten hours a day, seven days a week. This is down from his 16 hour painting days in his younger years.

Guess there are many ways to skin a cat. Thanks for this great article. I totally agree with this article that you only really get things done in the practice room when you have that elusive high level of focus, concentration, and an effective organized strategy for learning. Whenever you are losing that elusive level of focus, take a break from playing scales with a metronome and instead, just have a really fun min jam or improv session.

Just try to think up musical ideas in your head, and play them on your instrument. Or, pick a scale and just noodle around it coming up with riffs and musical ideas. After a while you get bored of this ie. The playing versus the hardcore practicing. Thanks for the tip, Ian! Improvising can be scary, but be a very valuable skill and indeed enable us to be less self-critical and analytical in the moment of performing. You can attack this from multiple ways — you can just do straight improvisation by ear, or, as I like to recommend, you can study the music theory and pick the scale which fits the jam track fits the chord progression.

Then you can play improvised straight eighth notes, sixteenths, or triplets over the jam track. This effectively works out both the logical and creative side of the brain, and is a great way to memorize, internalize, and really be able to work with a scale. This is why I recommend my students not only study, practice, and memorize scales and their theoretical usage, but also to APPLY the scales. I really recommend that everyone, and classical players, to try this method, and see if it works for them.

In my humble opinion, this is a great way to memorize a scale and really internalize every single note option. Thank you SO much Dr. Now I know why! I really dont get these studies.

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The greats became great because they loved what they do. They dont see it as practice. Hendrix played guitar all day because he loved it. Coltrane was going over riffs all day because he loved it. Everybody always looking for an excuse. Either you love what you do or you dont. In most cases if you really love something youll do it all day without thinking about time. Some will call that practice others will call it enjoying life. David, I agree with you.

When the music is within you, you do what you need to do to have it come through. When the music is within you, the technical studies are just means to the expression of the music within you. Both Parker and Coltrane spent many hours on many different scales, but not just for the technique, even though the technique was developed, it was for the expression of the music within them, so it could be expressed, just as they felt it, as soon as they felt it…. His blog, The Bullet Proof Musician, is a tremendous resource for advice on practicing, performing and auditioning.

A recent post […]. I do the same thing on my wind instruments too. It is al alternate picking pattern and my picking hand becomes tense around bpm. If I practice slow, how long should I practice slow? How long would you practice slow with deliberate practice? Thank you for this brilliant piece! This vindicates my beliefs and gives me hope. These are the ones who will improve quickly in the beginning, and continue to improve constantly over a lifetime. However, they will never overanalyze and stress out about how, when, why, where and with what to practice.

Second, there is the systematic musicians often created from the wishes of their parents who desired them to play an instrument and place them with a teacher at an early age. They have structure, discipline, and regiment. The degree of enjoyment they possess for their instrument is consistently far less than the first kind of musician. They pursue an unobtainable perfection.

This type of musician has two very distinct destinations: they will quit and never play again, or will achieve a prestigious status. In between there is not much room for this type of musician, they were never taught that music can be played simply for pleasure and relaxation, only to be better and better. I am a musician who plays because I enjoy it sometimes and other times its because my mom like me to keep playing. My teacher likes me to practice how ever long it takes to get it right.

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Music Educ. In line with the criteria for the calculation of accumulated practice time employed in Ericsson et al. Also, this can help save from vocal fatigue. Sharing Facebook Twitter Email Print. Limits on the predictive power of domain-specific experience and knowledge in skilled performance.

I usually Practice everyday form 30 minutes. I will be playing through my high school year. Probably til I go to collage. This article makes a good point when it tells you about mindless paracice.

So, this article taught me that I need to be focused and do it over and over again. That was such a great article! I think that will really help me a lot. I can never nail the piece as quickly as I want or get the notes just right. These tips will help me so much! I learned that you should have a 24 hour period of time that you never pick up you instrument. I found that very interesting. I wonder why that is? I learned something new today! It is such a fun thing to do! I realized after reading this article that I practice mindlessly.

I now know how to practice to get the most out of my time working to become better. Also, I believe it is important to have a desire to practice. Just something for everyone to think about, including myself. I think that this gives really good advice, and everyone should read it. I think that is really smart. I also like how it says to practice when we have the most energy. Also the part where he talks about how to reach your goal you want to reach. I think this is a great article. I realized I usually do practice mindlessly and end up not enjoying practice, because I do practice only with my fingers sometimes. Different techniques of practice really can help instead of just playing through the piece over and over.

I will for sure try these different things to help me want to practice, and not do it mindlessly.

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Hopefully it will increase my desire to really focus on the music. I learned that practicing is not just about the hours you practice, but the way you practice. Sometimes you just have to love what you are doing when you practice, and not just because you have to do it or something. This article tells you when you have a problem with recognizing notes you should strategize. Try your best! I think this will help me in the future.

Deliberate Practice Is Like the Scientific Method for Music

Also if you cant practice for 24 hours or one of the days a week and you have to play in church on Sunday? If you had a habit that you wanted to get ride of how would you get ride of it? It says to practice for forty minutes a day but if my teacher tells me to practice 30 minutes a day? What should I do practice 40 minutes a day or 30?

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I do like the article I just have a lot of questions. This will really help me practicing at home. I think this is a very informitive article. I think that reading this article will help me practice better. I learned that you should have a day where you dont play at all. I also learned that practicing for hours and days at a time doesnt actually help you become better you actually could get just get stuck. Reading this will help me become a better violinist. I think that this article gives great advice. I like at the very end when he says nobody wants to spend all day in the practice room and that what you need to do is to get in and to get out.

Then that you need to keep practice sessions limited. This will be really helpful for practicing later on. I am not the best at practicing. Thank you so much for this wonderful advice! I think that this is really good advice. Elle Kloberdanz. I learned a lot from this article. Or better still — what should happen on the training pitch to maximise player development?

Developing and improving young players is about getting the best out of each one. For some that may well be a professional career, for others it may be non-league, or just being a competent amateur player. For all of them however, deliberate practice will accelerate their development. It is about setting up training sessions where the coach is not the be-all-and-end-all, but facilitates the solving of problems. Deliberate practice takes the crutch of the coach away from players. Deliberate practice makes the coach redundant on game days.

It means you can behave more like Vicente del Bosque than Mike Bassett; safe in the knowledge that the problems faced by the players on game day, are the same problems they have answered during your training sessions. If a new problem arises, then, by all means, grab the saddle again.

If you think you are a good coach because you shout instructions, narrate moves, and direct every passage of play, you are getting it wrong. While I studied talent development my focus became clear. No one method of football coaching will turn all 16 of your players into international-level professional players In fact, international youth teams themselves do not do this. As a result, I began focusing on maximizing player development and accelerating player learning — all with the realistic confines of what a typical coach will have to deal with — coaching alone, limited time, equipment etc.

Every once in a while a book comes along that provides you with a lightbulb moment. Coyle spoke of a young female musician playing horribly for 6 minutes trying to get a tune right. It was strained, it was stressful, but it was purposeful. It was deliberate. Here however, our young musician was going for it, straining, rectifying mistakes, honing in on problems, getting a feel and a sound for the piece — maximizing a very short period of practice time. She could have spent 6 minutes playing a scale while thinking about her lunch, or her homework.

Here however, she was wholly cognitively and physically engaged. This 6-minute practice was worth more than 6 hours going through the motions. Myelin is a substance that forms in the brain when we learn. The more we learn, the more myelin is produced to insulate this new learning. The more we practice, the more we strengthen this insulation. The more we practice deliberately, the stronger our learning becomes. So, in the context of our musician, the more deliberate practice she gets, the more myelin is produced that strengthens her ability to quickly jump from one chord to another.

In a football-context, life is even more variable. We are not exactly sure which chord will come next. We can be informed, but we still never quite know what is going to happen. We see similar events, but very rarely do we have the exact same events that reoccur. Football training therefore has to reflect the random, variable nature of the game. How else did Hal Robson-Kanu know that such a simple turn would clear a whole Belgium defense? I genuinely do love the web as a resource for coaches — websites such as Player Development Project, blogs, Twitter and YouTube all feed what seems to be an insatiable thirst for football knowledge.

A huge amount of the coaching fraternity simply want to get better. The best coaches and learners then find something that lifts them, lights a bulb in their mind — and investigate more to satisfy the curiosity. There are literally millions of them, which at first seems like a good thing — but beware of the untested! Conceived during one of these moments of internet frustration was the Deliberate Soccer Practice book series — books that contain 50 deliberate sessions — one on passing and possession, one on defending, one on attacking and finally a small-sided games edition.

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At the time of writing this article, the attacking edition is ready to be sent to the press! While researching for the attacking edition, I did another search. Of the results, it took until image 12 for a practice that did not contain a queue of players or fixed player positions next to cones. I then did not find a second practice without these elements until image Considering just how important and difficult scoring a goal is, it borders on crazy that the vast majority of shooting, and attacking practices in general, involve little or no moments that reflect its true complexity.

Football is one of very few sports where thousands of people will routinely attend games knowing that there is a real likelihood that the game will be goalless. Deliberat e Thinking. Effortless Playing. Mental Skills for Young Musicians. Privacy Policy. Two Very Important Words! Too Many Techniques? What Action Should I Take? Do Your Parent Support You? Not Enough Time In the Day. What Is Holding You Back?