Monday, May 18, 2009

Staying Off Autopilot

A recent Op-Ed article by David Brooks in the New York Times looks at current thought regarding excellence and how to get there. What seems to be the consensus (espoused in books such as Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers: The Story of Success) is that our concept of "genuis" might seem like a God-given talent, but is actually the result of a lot of hard work over the course of many years. Brooks writes:
The latest research suggests a more prosaic, democratic, even puritanical view of the world. The key factor separating geniuses from the merely accomplished is not a divine spark. It’s not I.Q., a generally bad predictor of success, even in realms like chess. Instead, it’s deliberate practice. Top performers spend more hours (many more hours) rigorously practicing their craft.
But it's not just the hours logged in the practice room. The work has to be conscious:
The mind wants to turn deliberate, newly learned skills into unconscious, automatically performed skills. But the mind is sloppy and will settle for good enough. By practicing slowly, by breaking skills down into tiny parts and repeating, the strenuous student forces the brain to internalize a better pattern of performance.
If there was ever a true case for slow practicing, this is it. Mindful practice requires more effort up front and a lot of taking apart further into the learning process, but the rewards more than repay the time invested.

(Via From the bench)

Previously on the Collaborative Piano Blog:

Slow Practicing
Non-Structured Practice Time
Technique Week
15 Reasons Why Practicing Technique Can Improve Your Time at the Piano