How Much Should You Practice? (Part 2)

In my last column I calculated that by the time I graduated from high school, having played the trumpet for eight years, I had practiced 2,500 hours, 25% of the 10,000 hours said to be required to achieve expertise.

University and Beyond

As a student at the Berklee College of Music and for the first few years of my professional career, I practiced up to five hours a day and rarely missed a day. I’ll average that out to four hours a day, six days a week.

4 hours X 6 days X 50 weeks X 6 years = 7,200 hours
Total after 14 years: 9,700 hours

The 10,000 Mark

It would appear that I hit the 10,000 mark somewhere around age 25. Was I an expert at that point? It could be argued that I was—I was working as a professional. But I know a lot more and play a lot better now than I did then. How many hours has it taken to get to where I am today?

Professional Playing Career

As a professional player, I generally practice two hours a day and rarely miss a day, so I base my calculations for this period on six days a week.

2 hours X 6 days X 50 weeks for 30 years = 18,000 hours
Total practice hours to date: 27,700 hours

After all this time, I will state with confidence that I am an expert on playing the trumpet. But I am a long way from mastery.

Fortunately, playing music is not about being the “best.” We are each unique human beings with the ability to make a musical statement that reflects our individuality. It just takes a little time and effort to acquire the tools to do so.

About the Author

Chase Sanborn is a jazz trumpet player based in Toronto. He is on the faculty at the University of Toronto and is the author of “Brass Tactics,” “Jazz Tactics,” “Tuning Tactics” and “Music Business Tactics.” Chase is a Yamaha Artist. Visit his website at www.chasesanborn.com. Questions about all things brassrelated can be sent to info@chasesanborn.com.

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