The 10,000 hour theory

Dennis Desantis has some interesting writing about the 10,000 Hour Theory, stated in which it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice/training to achieve master level at any activity, be it playing an instrument, sports, etc.

From his blog:

If 10,000 hours sounds like a lot of time, keep in mind that it’s not a switch; it’s a process. On your way to expertise, you will get better and better, and you will feel progress happening all the time.

And most importantly, 10,000 hours is what it takes to be elite. Simply getting good will happen much sooner. But it will not happen without putting in real, focused time.

What are you waiting for?

Of course, there are differing opinions, but it’s still interesting food for thought.

He has some great case studies on musicians who actually did this.

I did a little back-of-the napkin math: If you practiced your new thing for an hour a day only, it would take roughly 28 years to achieve greatness.  At two hours per day, more like 14 years.  At 3 hours per day, we’re getting dangerously close to “cramping one’s style” but you can get there in about 9 years.  So maybe it was true in college – the people who put in 4 hours a day in the studio really did get a quality payoff for their efforts.  I was never convinced enough to put that kind of time in – maybe I should have read the article back then.


Author: Will Kuhn

I teach music technology to high schoolers. I do some other stuff too. @willkuhn on Twitter.

2 thoughts on “The 10,000 hour theory”

  1. Hey Will,

    Thanks for the shout-out.

    Seth Godin’s remarks are interesting, but he seems to be mostly talking about *success* rather than *greatness.* There’s no doubt that success can happen at any time – after no work, or a lifetime of work, or never.

    1. Good point – the pursuit of greatness sometimes only works when you think outside of possible success. A lot of the best work done in art was done with no expectation of fame or acceptance – excellent to distinguish this from the social ideals of “Success”, which are indeed highly variable.

      Thanks for reading – if you’re ever in Ohio you should rent another pickup truck and come visit my school – it’s like a high school version of Dubspot but located in a very rural area hahaha!

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