Purposeful practice is first defined by specific goals. Intense focus is the second quality. How often during so called ‘naïve practice’ are we going through the motions without being fully engaged, either because we lack a specific goal or we’re just not bringing our full attention to the moment?
Growth is difficult, and that brings us to the next quality of purposeful practice: leaving our comfort zone. And we don’t like that. We have a basic need to feel competent, and pushing ourselves to do things we don’t know how to do goes against our innate requirement to avoid pain.
We need to really concentrate, push into an uncomfortable place and adapt until it becomes comfortable, and then we push again, until that too becomes comfortable, and then we push again, over and over, in a calm and persistent way. This is how we learn and develop. This is the only way we improve, in anything.
Deliberate practice involves developing a more efficient mental approach to tempo, harmony, phrasing and every other area you wish to improve.
Deliberate practice means our ability to detect — and thus correct — mistakes is enhanced. We then notice a positive cycle of improvement, with refined and more challenging deliberate practice further developing mental representations that enrich future practice.
This is the process of improvement. The crucial variable is the amount of time you spend in deliberate, purposeful practice.
Is 10, 000 the golden number of practice hours? I will discuss that in a future blog to be entitled: '10, 000 Hours to Greatness?'
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