From Pipe Dream To Reality

In another article I talked about the value of learning to hustle. In that article we took a look at the importance of building momentum that helps you achieve your musical goals. In this article we are going to look at a specific strategy to help you build momentum.


The Double-Edged Sword

I've always genuinely cared about the progress of all of my students. I get a lot of satisfaction seeing a student's skills develop over time. And I love to see them get closer to their goals. But this caring is also a double-edged sword…

It always breaks my heart when I see a student who has big goals not taking enough action. They've set fantastic and compelling goals…but they just aren't putting in the necessary work. They aren't building momentum. In many cases the likelihood of them reaching their goals in this lifetime is very small.

And do you know what?

In many cases it is not laziness. They are just not aware of how much work is needed. They don't realize the sheer magnitude of what they are trying to achieve with their playing. And because they don't realize the magnitude of the task they don't work hard enough.


Getting A Clear Picture

When you have set a musical goal it is critical to find out what actions you need to take. For example, let's say you want to be able to improvise fluently in a blues style. You need to find out the following…

  1. Exactly what skills you need to develop.
  2. A clear idea of how to develop those skills.
  3. An understanding of how much daily practice is needed to develop those skills.

 The first two are really easy to find out. You can do the following…

  • Get lessons from a tutor who teaches blues improvisation.
  • Talk to players that can already improvise in a blues style.
  • Buy books and DVDs on blues guitar improvisation.

But what about number 3…"An understanding of how much daily practice is needed to develop those skills".

How do you find that out?


Modeling The Effort Of Others

Everyone progresses at a different rate. Because of this it is extremely difficult to predict how much daily practice you will need to do to reach your musical goals. So what do you do?

I think the best approach is to do the following…

  1. Find a guitar player who plays like you would like to play.
  2. Research the daily practice habits they had in order to play the way they do.
  3. Do the same thing.

Although this won't guarantee you'll get the same exact results, at least it gives you a rough idea of the work needed. And this will  help you to develop a sense of urgency.


An Example

One of my students recently said that they really wished that they could play like me. I replied to them that they could…if they do the same number of focused hours of practice that I've done over the years.

They then asked me how many hours of practice I've done. I replied to them "at least 10,000 to 15,000 hours".

Let's use the conservative 10,000 hour figure as an example. Below is a table I've put together. It shows how long it would take my student to reach my level of playing if they practiced daily. This is assuming they practice 7 days a week, 365 days a year…


 Daily Practice Amount  Time To Reach Craig's Level Of Playing
 30 minutes  20,000 days (approx 54.79 years)
 60 minutes  10,000 days (approx 27.39 years)
 90 minutes  6,667 days (approx 18.26 years)
 120 minutes  5,000 days (approx 13.70 years)
 150 minutes  4,000 days (approx 10.96 years)
 180 minutes  3,333 days (approx 9.13 years)

So what does this all mean?

Well. Let's look at the two extremes…


30 Minutes Daily Practice:

If my student practices for 30 minutes every single day, it will take them roughly 54.79 years to reach my current level of playing.

3 Hours Daily Practice:

If my student practices for 3 hours every single day, it will take them 9.13 years to reach my current level of playing.


Can you see how useful this is? My student has a VERY clear picture of the work that is needed to play like me. Whether or not they are willing to do the work is a separate issue! (It would require a significant long-term commitment to practice).

IMPORTANT: You may be thinking "Hey man…there's no way that's accurate".

And do you know what? You're absolutely right. My student would have to practice the exact same things, in the exact same order, in the exact same way to get the same results as me.

But the table above DOES give my student some inidication of how hard he might have to work to reach my level of playing. And that has immense value. Because if he realizes it's going to take a lot of work, he is more likely to practice hard. (Assuming he has a strong enough desire to play like me).


The 1,000 Hour Goal

Often when you find out just how much some players have practiced it can be completely overwhelming. And the last thing you want to do is give up even before you start. So here's my challenge to you…

Starting from today make it a goal to do 1,000 focused hours of practice ASAP. (This means 1,000 hours of practice done with good technique in a relaxed way).

Here is another table showing you how long these 1,000 hours will take you. This tables assumes that you will practice 7 days a week…

 Daily Practice Amount  Time To Complete 1,000 Hours Of Practice
 30 minutes  2,000 days (approx 5.48 years)
 60 minutes  1,000 days (approx 2.74 years)
 90 minutes  667 days (approx 1.82 years)
 120 minutes  500 days (approx 1.37 years)
 150 minutes  400 days (approx 1.1 years)
 180 minutes  333 days (approx 0.91 years)

Working towards this 1,000 hour goal ASAP will help you to build tremendous momentum towards your goals. If you work hard you can get these 1,000 hours done in less than a year. Doing 1,000 hours practice probably won't get you to your goals…but it's a damn good start.

Why are you still reading?

Grab your guitar and get cracking. :-)

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