Reflecting on 5000 hours of practice

Tomorrow I will pass the half-way point toward my long-term goal of 10,000 hours of practice! This milestone is coming at a great time… April and May have been some of my best practice months ever (knock on wood). Here are a few thoughts on recent practice successes and on the 5000 hours thus far.

Staying home, practicing with friends, and “disconnected mornings”

The biggest boost to my practice productivity has been being at home. On Ensemble has had a bit of time off from touring so I’ve been able to maintain a regular schedule. I have a number of motivated, taiko-playing friends who visit me frequently to practice. We’re working toward the debut of a new piece on June 26th and I can thank them for 73 practice sessions thus far. Thank you Matsuri Crashers!

I’ve also devoted my mornings to practice by turning off my computer at night and not allowing myself to turn it on until after lunch. In addition to avoiding the distractions of email and internet, this system has allotted more of my “get-up-and-go” to practice. It seems I do not have unlimited motivation.

Practice thus far

It has taken me 15.5 years to get to 5000 hours. I started playing taiko in October of 1995. I decided I wanted to try to play taiko professionally in the summer of 1997, moved to Japan in 1999, and started On Ensemble with Shoji and Maz in 2001. The challenges of On Ensemble’s music have been the most significant motivator for my practice, followed by my own attempts at composition. I hope On Ensemble continues to challenge us and that I’ll keep writing music I can’t play!

Exaggerated pre-tracking practice estimates

Since I’ve been keeping close track, I’ve practiced about 365 hours per year. Considering that I commit a fair amount of my energy to practice these days, I’m guessing that my estimates for practice prior to tracking were a little generous. My very strict definition of what counts as practice (explained at the middle of this page), however, means means these engagement estimates are probably still lenient with respect to how most people would interpret the 10,000 hour rule.

10,000 hours by 2022?

Looking at my practice graph, I’m pleased that I’m finally pulling away from the 1-hour-per-day dark-blue line. Hopefully I can continue this trend and get to 10,000 hours in another 10~12 years or so.

The value of tracking practice time

This tracking system has been a huge help in keeping me motivated. It’s surprising how rewarding a tick on the graph can be. The strictness of my measurement rules makes me confident that if I indeed reach the 10,000 mark, I will be very well practiced. If you are a taiko player and would like to use the system to track your practice, you can read this howto on the system, or contact me for help.

Signing off for a morning of practice… and the 5000 hour milestone!

2 Responses to “Reflecting on 5000 hours of practice”

  1. Margaret says:

    Congrats on reaching the halfway mark! Has this project affected your values or thoughts re *playing* taiko, so far? Do you think it might?

  2. Tina SL says:

    Spectacular Kris!! Congratulations on your success.

    Now, time to drag myself away from the computer, thanks for the motivation, :)


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