I had my first lesson yesterday after a break of over a month – the longest hiatus to date that Teacher and I have passed in our five years. During that time, travel for a funeral and for the holidays and other end-of-year happenings conspired to keep my practice at bay. I probably only practiced about three times per week during the past month.
Past breaks, shorter though they have been, have shown me that a break isn’t the death knell of progress that, intuitively, it seems it should be. I’ve written a little before about learning in absentia – I honestly feel that some settling of the neural pathways occurs over time that does help learning sink in a bit even when not engaged in the activity. I’m also certain there’s a limit to such a thing! Riding a bicycle does stick with you, but a past winner certainly can’t take the bike out after a ten-year break to win the Tour de France.
I hit it hard last weekend, though, in preparation for my return to lessons yesterday. I practiced for 90 minutes both Sunday and Monday. The Bach Double is still coming along – again I was surprised to find that my time away doesn’t seem to have set me back.
Practice makes perfect, is the adage. But let’s face it, nobody’s perfect. I have heard Perlman say that much beyond three hours in a day is pointless. On the other end of things is Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours of doing something to become an expert.
I doubt I’ll ever get to three hours a day, and at an hour a day (7 days a week!) it’s 30 years to 10,000.
By either standard, all learning in absentia aside, the clear answer for me is to just keep practicing as much as possible. That fits nicely with me only really being into this thing for the practice anyway.
Happy New Year, and thanks for reading.