Annoying, successful musicians

violin, music, fire, practice, You know a few. Those really annoying musicians who have excelled with seemingly little effort. The fellow students or colleagues who have a career on the world stages – some of whom partied so much they shouldn’t even be functional. While the rest – those who really tried and worked hard – have had to be content with carving out a career of bits and pieces.

Then answer is in the quality of the practice. Not the quantity. From a study* in Berlin in the 1990s: elite musicians spend an average 3.5 hours a day in two well-defined chunks – morning and afternoon – doing the uncomfortable, methodical, ability-stretching practice. Then they relax. Have fun. Sleep better. And improve.

Average musicians spend more time haphazardly throughout the day – ending up more stressed, sleeping less, and not improving at the same rate.

Startling conclusion:  “Do less. But do what you do with complete and hard focus. Then when you’re done be done, and go enjoy the rest of the day.”


*All information and quote from an article at Study Hacks. Read the whole article. See also The Science of Productivity, Animated at Brainpickings.

Image: A Good Thing Happened

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About LaDona's Music Studio

Musician, pianist, teacher, blogger.
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8 Responses to Annoying, successful musicians

  1. leiaslessons says:

    I’m really working hard on teaching my students to make their practise sessions efficient, and go for quality rather than quantity!

    • But then sometimes they use that as an excuse to not do enough! No winning for most, I’m afraid! Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Leia.

      • leiaslessons says:

        True! I do try to give them a guideline number, which varies from 10-30 minutes per day for most of my beginners, but I also make sure to teach them how and what to practise, which I think is really important.

        • I do, too, Leia. In lessons I keep alternating between stressing a minimum amount of time, and a minimum number of go-throughs of a piece, tossing in the “practice the tricky bits more” stuff, and so on and so on…

  2. Rasa Daukus says:

    I laugh (now!) at the stress I put myself through clocking up hours in practice frenzy over my first couple of years at music school…

  3. Joe Head says:

    Reminds me of that famous classical guitarist I wrote you about a while back who improved his playing on only 40 minutes a day while on active duty in the military, by what he deliberately chose to focus on while practicing.

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