12-month practice review – June ’10
On June 22, 2009, I started the 10,000 hours of practice project. 365 days into it, here are the stats and some reflections after the break on a year of monitoring my practice.
Hours practiced (June 22, ’09 – June 22, ’10) – 463.59
Average daily hours (June 22, ’09 – June 22, ’10) – 1.27 (1hr 16.2min)
Current total hours (since 1995) – 4681.59
Estimated date of 10000 hours achievement – Sunday, Dec 5, 2021
(Assuming I maintain this year’s average daily hours.)
Averaging an hour a day of concentrated, technical practice is surprisingly difficult. On an average day I might dedicate five hours to taiko practice, but I only spend a portion of that time actually drumming and concentrating on technique. Over the past three On Ensemble rehearsals, for example, we practiced a total of 16.5 hours, but only 1.1 hours of that time (6.6%) counted toward my tally. The rehearsals focused on teaching guest artists and on fine-tuning our established music, and much of the time I played koto or turntable. They were great rehearsals — very productive and challenging — but they don’t count much toward my taiko “practice”, according to the the project’s strict definition.
An hour of practice requires 2 hours of prep. When trying to motivate myself to practice, the biggest challenge is to know what to work on. When I first started the 10000 hours challenge, I had a backlog of drills that had two key traits for effective practice; they were 1) technically challenging and 2) inspiring/exciting/fun. Over the last year, most of them have run their course, exhausting one or both of the elements. I now need to continually generate source material for engaged practice; writing new, challenging rhythms, thinking of new techniques I want to acquire, discovering new approaches to practice. This thinking, composition, and preparation takes a lot of time, so even when I’m in my studio, by myself, with the drums in front of me, I probably only average about 20 minutes of playing for every hour.
I have to remember to focus on progress, rather than hours. When I don’t have a concrete plan for practice, or am not particularly motivated, I often trick myself into practice. “Just go sit in front of the drums… if nothing happens in 20 minutes, then you can give up.” “Think how ugly the blank space in your practice graph will be… even 5 minutes is better!” While these kinds of tricks help motivate me, they also seem to increase the internal pressure I feel to inflate my hours. As I calculate a day’s practice, I can feel myself wanting the minutes to add up to at least one hour. I need to continually remind myself that progress is the goal, and to reward myself when I only practice a short amount of time but have a particularly productive session. The 10,000 hours project is an experiment to observe my practice, not define it.
- Finished middle section of never-ending solo piece, Err
- Focus on left hand finally paying off – almost equal speed
- Offset doubles and ryoutan techniques comfortable enough to be useful in musical settings
- No progress with Semba/JoJo Mayer multi-finger roll technique, despite practice
- Relatively little improvement to basic kata and basic kata philosophy
Thank you to Hiro for the support over the past year, and to Alison for the practice space. Thanks to On Ensemble and TaikoProject for all the rehearsals. Thanks to Chris Hunyh, David Wells, Brady Fukumoto, and all my other practice buddies! Looking forward to another 365 days!