With blatant disregard for the public benefits of motivational idioms, researchers have concluded that practice does not, necessarily, make perfect.
A study of violinists found that merely good players practised as much as, if not more than, better players, leaving other factors such as quality of tuition, learning skills and perhaps natural talent to account for the difference.
The work is the latest blow to the 10,000-hour rule, the idea promoted in Malcolm Gladwell’s 2008 book, Outliers, which has been taken to mean that enough practice will make an expert of anyone. In the book, Gladwell states that “ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness”.
Not that Gladwell actually said that. Rather, 10,000 hours is a necessary precondition.
The larger point though any and every adult knows. People just click with some things and not with others. This is true of doing music at all – I reached my plateau and wasn’t going to get any better at about Grade VII. Just didn’t have the innate understanding of music necessary to take it further. Algebra plateaued somewhere in between dy/dx and integration. Just never could get the brain around the latter. Sure, could work though a known equation, work to rule. But composing one? Nahhh.
Even within a subject – two years of cello led to no one wanting to put me in even for Grade I. Two terms of trumpet had me sailing through Grade IV. Grade V has to be worked at a little bit……
And the thing is, every adult does know this, every language has an equivalent of horses for courses…..