Yesterday I gave a lesson to a highly motivated student who told me he had just secured a practice space where he could practice almost as much as he wanted to.
I rarely hear news this good from my students. Honestly, I more frequently hear bad news about their progress. The statement “I was really busy this week and I didn’t get to practice enough,” is a common one.
So, hearing this news got me excited. He looked so happy about his new practice situation; it seemed that he could barely contain his enthusiasm.
Then he told me even better news. “The practice space costs me zero dollars,” he explained.
“That doesn’t seem possible. How could that be?” I asked.
Wow. My student, who doesn’t make a lot of money, figured out a way to secure a practice space without any money. He is bartering computer programming skills for his practice time. That is initiative!
The reason for all this? He LOVES the drums. Oh, and the other reason? He understands, from conversations we’ve had during our lessons, that it takes a LOT of practice to get good. He knows that he needs a place to play on real drums (not pads and not electronic drums) that is available to him for hour upon hour of practice.
I’ve told him about several times in my life–the most recent being just a few years ago–when I spent the majority of my work days practicing. My goal for these multi-year practice regimens was to practice a similar number of hours to what I would have had to work if I had a day job. We’re talking 30 or 35 hours a week.
For the most recent period that I did this–2008 through 2010–I put in about 4,000 hours of practice time. And I have the log books to prove it. Yup, I logged my practice time.
My industrious student had heard me explain this and realized that the only way he was going to get as good as he wanted was to start working harder.
“Why did you get this practice space?” I asked.
“You inspired me with your stories of practicing like it was your job,” he said. “I didn’t know that people practiced that much”
So, I am here to tell you: it does take that much work. All the really great drummers; those with the legendary names and abilities spent immense amounts of time to get that good.
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Alan Dawson II says
It always amazes me that some students don’t seem to understand the basic formula:
If you practise then you improve.
I teach around 50 students a week and many of them treat it as if it was just an occasional hobby. After 6 months or so they realise that they aren’t improving and get disillusioned. It drives me up the wall!
The other big issue is that they really struggle prioritising time if it impinges on their ‘x-box’ time – games consoles are probably my biggest enemy and I wonder how many good (not necessarily great) players have been lost to the inane charms of computer games.
Alex Kirschner says
I had tried 5 times to sit down and learn drums and was never committed to practicing. I finally decided to pay for lessons and really dedicate time to practice. I would put in around 40 hours a week (like a full time job) and I was blown away by my progression…Now I cant get enough when it comes to practicing and playing. This applies to everything in life, And I agree that most people dont understand the concept of diligent practice and patience.
Mark Feldman says
Excellent, Alex. You speak the truth. That’s the way to do it. All the great musicians have spent periods of their life practicing like a job…. 40 or more hours per week.