Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes about 10,000 hours to achieve mastery at a field. Let’s think about that for a minute. 10,000 hours of piano practice to become a master at the piano? That’s forty hours a week for five years. I’m assuming most of us if not all of us don’t get forty hours of practice in a week. I can’t even imagine that. I attempted doing 3-5 hours a day while I was in college and that was hard enough to reach without feeling completely mentally broken down afterward.

Back to the math: if I averaged 2 hours a day for 5 days a week in one year I’d be getting 520 hours of practice in one year. At that rate it would take me 20 years to become a master. I’ve only been practicing and playing piano for about 13 or 14 years. I can pretty much guarantee you that I did not practice for an average of 2 hours a day, 5 days a week consistently over those years. My average definitely sky-rocketed when I went to music school but not enough to give me 520 hours in a year. I spent most of my summers telling myself to practice and then not really doing so. I guess I’m not a master.

Then again I don’t think I really aspire to be a master. I think that practicing to the point of mastery would bring me to hate the music and the piano. I don’t really want to hate it. I never want practicing to become a chore or something I resent. Music is a beautiful gift and it seems wrong to turn it into something so serious that it fails to be enjoyable. That is not to say that there aren’t masters who truly enjoy music and playing their instrument. I learned from a few masters and they still clearly loved what they were doing. Who knows, maybe I will get there some day and absolutely love it.