“Reaching the 10,000-Hour Rule is simply a matter of practicing a specific task that can be accomplished with 20 hours of work a week for 10 years”

Phew. What a busy two weeks it’s been. Between working 6-14 hours a day for fourteen days straight, catching up on all the university work I needed to do over the holidays, desperately trying to spend as much time with friends and family as possible, and of course those pesky annoying things like eating, drinking, sleeping, I’ve barely had time to think. After working myself to the point of illness, I’m finally back in York, and damn it feels good. For someone normally pretty highly strung, it’s a relief to be able to sit down and just chill out for a bit. Which also means time to write more. Lots and lots. Yay. It’s gonna be great.

Amongst other things, I was lucky enough to be able to help out a couple of old friends by playing Violin II at a performance of Mozart’s Idomeneo. A beautiful little opera set in Ancient Greece (where else), I had great fun playing (or rather attempting to play) with some very talented musicians, including a fantastic cast of soloists: Electra’s “D’Oreste, d’Ajace ho in seno i tormenti” was particularly breathtaking, and rightly received its own standing ovation after. Whilst I did enjoy myself, and the performance was well received, I couldn’t help but feel guilty: this was the first time I had seriously picked up my violin in about eighteen months, and it showed in my rusty, tenuous performance. As I was backed up by some incredible violinists far superior to myself, to all of whom I am unbelievably grateful, the quality of the performance was not affected: yet I still feel like, had I only made more of an effort to keep up musically, I could be leaps and bounds ahead of where I was in that performance.

It’s hard keeping a balance at university, true. With so much going on, people to see, things to do, and, y’know, that small matter of coming out with a respectable degree classification at the end of it, it’s hard to let things fall by the wayside a little. In my case, it was music. With very few music societies that I had the time to commit to, or in the style which I enjoy operating and playing, as well as having instrumental failure at the start of first year, gradually my instruments began to gather dust in the corner of my bedroom. I would occasionally take them out to practise, and even less occasionally to perform with some of my old music groups when I went home for Christmas/Easter breaks, but I achieved nowhere near as much as I could have. Or, indeed, should have.

In his book ‘Outliers’, Malcolm Gladwell repeatedly refers to what he calls the ‘10,000-Hour Rule’: simply put, he argues that to achieve a high level of success in any task, such as playing a musical instrument or computer programming, you need to put in 10,000 hours of practice, which can be done by practising for twenty hours a week, for fifty weeks in a year, for ten years. For those of you who took Maths Studies, 20×50 = 1,000 a year = 10,000 over ten years. I’m not going to claim I practised twenty hours a week per instrument, especially given I play two instruments regularly and seven occasionally, but still. Two years worth of practice time wasted. Two years further away from success. Maybe I’m overreacting. After all, I have many many years left ahead of me (touch wood), and getting back in touch with my musical side is definitely high on my priorities after graduating, assuming I land a job that gives me the time to do so. Still, it’s sad to see something I once took so much pleasure in doing take a backseat in my life.

Anywho, new Game of Thrones to watch. Priorities. Laters.


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