Introduction to Deliberate Practice

When someone hears the word ‘practice’, they usually think about hours of boring repetitions of the same unexciting things. I, myself, thought of practice as an annoying routine that separates me from really cool things. Like, ‘Why would I want to play stupid intervals, instead of playing this cool melody I recently found? Why can’t I play the music itself and call this my practice?’

Actually, I can. I can forget about exercises and spend my time only learning new pieces of music, without any regularity. Sooner, or rather later, that method would lead me to a point where I’d say ‘I know kung fu’. Ahem. I mean ‘I know the ocarina’. But this would take a really long time. And, I would learn every melody like I've never seen sheet music before. Or maybe, I’d recognize some parts I’d already met in previous ones.

Such a pity that I don’t have endless time to practice and need to go to work and do other adult things.

So, that’s where deliberate practice appears. But, what the hell is deliberate practice, and why do I love it so much to have an article about it? Deliberate practice is a special type of practice, purposeful and systematic. That involves setting goals for your practice sessions, planning time beforehand and practice no matter how uninspired you feel in the moment. You can’t rely on inspiration exclusively if you want to make good progress in any skill.

You could say ‘But I have goal, I want to be a great performer’ and you'd be right. But if you want to progress fast, you need to practice deliberately and have distinct small goals. You can’t practice ‘being a great performer’, but you can practice ‘playing at a fast tempo’.

So, how exactly do you apply deliberate practice to the ocarina:

Deliberate practice isn’t about mindless repetitions though. If you feel too tired to concentrate on the thing you’re practicing in this exact moment you’re wasting your time. So don’t practice for too long in one session, as you can’t stay concentrated for hours. Also don’t try to practice everything at once.

Plan your practice sessions beforehand so you won't get distracted in the process of practice itself. This will help you to be sure that you are practicing all aspects without missing one. Also don't forget to analyze your practice sessions afterwards, to see, what else can be fixed.

The human's brain is quite a limited thing. If you’re learning ornamentation for the first time in your life, your brain can’t think about playing fast and staying in tune simultaneously. Concentrate on one thing at a time, and your mind will combine it automatically with time. But you need to get used to it initially.

To summarize all of it, I can say that if you want to progress fast it's preferable to concentrate on small distinct goals. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have your fun playing ocarina anymore, but rather that to have a real fun playing ocarina on higher level you need to pay some attention on how you play.

You can read more about the art of deliberate practice here

Back to All Articles