10,000 Hours of Practice

Does it only take 10,000 hours of Practice to Achieve Mastery?

*In the book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. How does Gladwell arrive at this conclusion? And, if the conclusion is true, how can we leverage this idea to achieve greatness in our Dancing?

Gladwell studied the lives of extremely successful people to find out how they achieved success. This article will review a few examples from Gladwell’s research, and conclude with some thoughts for moving forward.

Violins in Berlin

In the early 1990s, a team of psychologists in Berlin, Germany studied violin students. Specifically, they studied their practice habits in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. All of the subjects were asked this question: “Over the course of your entire career, ever since you first picked up the violin, how many hours have you practiced?”

All of the violinists had begun playing at roughly five years of age with similar practice times. However, at age eight, practice times began to diverge. By age twenty, the elite performers averaged more than 10,000 hours of practice each, while the less able performers had only 4,000 hours of practice.

The elite had more than double the practice hours of the less capable performers.

Natural Talent: Not Important

One fascinating point of the study: No “naturally gifted” performers emerged. If natural talent had played a role, we would expect some of the “naturals” to float to the top of the elite level with fewer practice hours than everyone else. But the data showed otherwise. The psychologists found a direct statistical relationship between hours of practice and achievement. No shortcuts. No naturals.

*This has been copied from an article appearing on the Wisdom Group’s website. The whole article can be found here and its a fascinating read.

What to Practice

The key to attaining mastery is not THAT you practice, Its WHAT you practice. Certainly between ages 5-8, the violinists where not practicing anything all that complex compared to later in their careers. They were working on what their coaches spoon fed them with little to no deviation. Typically the deviation comes later in the 10,000 hours for a young violinist than it does in a dancer learning a dance later in life.

Also what is drastically different between learning to play the violin and learning to dance is that the violinist can hear when their fingering technique is off or if they play the wrong note. When we dance we can not see when we are stepping too long, off time, or are leaving off a triple step. There is a greater potential for developing bad habits when the instrument you are playing is your own body.

The point of me writing this today is not to scare anyone away from practicing outside of class. In fact its quite the opposite. My hope is that you realize that to be “gifted” in dance you only have to put in the time in to focused practice. Solo practice with a mirror and strict form has worked the best for me. I get immediate feedback when I am leaving something out, am off time, or are making my steps too large.

By putting in a little time each week by your self you will find very quickly that you are enjoying your self more than ever. Each time you step on the dance floor you will be stepping with the confidence that you see in better dancers. They are not more talented than you are, they simply have more time invested and you can catch up any time you want. It only takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery but you can achieve confidence much much quicker!

The featured image from this article was borrowed from This Website
Sunday Night April 23, 2017
6:00pm Night Club 2-Step Lesson w/Mr. J
6:45pm WCS Lesson w/Mr. J
7:30pm Dance DJ – Donna Shea
Longfellows Club JoEllen
524 Boston Post Rd
Wayland, MA (603) 475-1391