Deliberate (music) practice is the road to excellence – but not without a teacher
 by Hans-Peter Becker  July 3, 2016

“You wish to climb a mountain. You’re not sure how high you want to go — that peak looks an awfully long way off — but you know you want to get higher than you currently are. You could simply take off on whichever path looks promising and hope for the best, but you’re probably not going to get very far. Or you could rely on a guide who has been to the peak and knows the best way there. That will guarantee that no matter how high you decide to climb, you are doing it in the most efficient, effective way. The best way is deliberate practice…”

This is how Anders Ericsson describes the method of ‘deliberate practice’ in his new book “Peak Secrets from the New Science of Expertise,“as the most efficient and effective way to practice.

When it comes to practice, not all of it makes perfect.

If we just play a song or mainly practice what we’re already good at, we shouldn’t expect to get better. To really improve, we also have to work on the hard parts, the things we’re not that good at – yet.

According to Ericsson, “Purposeful practice has four characteristics: (1) it has well-defined, specific goals, (2) it is focused, (3) it involves feedback, and (4) it requires getting out of one’s comfort zone.”

That’s a tall order, but we’re most likely to succeed if we have a good teacher who is able to guide us on the road of deliberate practice (similar to the guide in the metaphor above.)

At Modern Music School, our teachers are doing just that.

They’re guiding their students through the process of deliberate practice. They’re creating a learning atmosphere in which students can fully engage in the learning process while being pushed to the edge of their comfort zones (or beyond.) Together with their students they define small, manageable learning goals. They make sure that these goals encompass both their student’s current and potential skill levels, and also their individual interests and goals. Our teachers provide students with immediate feedback and make sure each and every one knows when they did something correctly — or not quite yet.

As soon as the students realize what they practice will indeed bring them closer to achieving their goals, they welcome challenges, and strive to become better and better at what they’re doing.

We encourage all students to dive into deliberate practice — but only sometimes. Because this form of intense practice is only doable and sensible for small periods of time. Most of the time, we should just play what’s really, really fun for us!

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