Just hit 400 hours!

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Garagiste, Jul 22, 2021.

  1. Garagiste


    Feb 16, 2013
    Brooklyn, NY
    According to Modacity, since roughly a year ago I have logged 400 hours on double bass. So, according to Malcom Gladwell’s theory of 10k hours to mastery, I will be a verified double bass master in….25 years! When I’m…74! Not to suggest I started playing a year ago, more like nine. But still, it is nice to see one’s progress and be able to account for time spent on given practice items.
  2. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    I wonder how many hours it takes to just "not suck." That's my nearer-term goal, and I hope to hit it before I'm 75.
  3. Garagiste


    Feb 16, 2013
    Brooklyn, NY
    Who was it who said “most people don’t know how hard it is to suck at jazz”
  4. Garagiste


    Feb 16, 2013
    Brooklyn, NY
    Also, a sax player I know who returned to playing after raising kids, career, etc. told me it took him about ten years to just start not sucking.
  5. CaseyVancouver


    Nov 4, 2012
    You can actually ‘not suck’ right now!!!

    Using my system, I base performance and where I stand on how much I enjoy it. So I’m not comparing myself to those guys who have memorized the entire bass orchestra repertoire, play perfectly in tune and bow anything expertly. There’s always somebody better, somebody worse.

    As long as I’m enjoying playing, I’m way more successful than those guys who play better but are not as happy.
    (there are many unhappy symphony pro’s out there)

    I base this thinking from my long ago competitive sports experiences. I found the folks who ran marathons under 3 hours the most uptight and unhappy of all. The ones over 4 hours (me) were having a ball. Same experience with my road bike racing. I raced criterium races until I was 60 and totally happy to finish in the pack, often comprised of fit 20 year olds. The keeners were only having fun, or did not ‘suck’, if they were winning or destroying the competition.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2021
  6. Garagiste


    Feb 16, 2013
    Brooklyn, NY
    I’m having fun!
    AGCurry and CaseyVancouver like this.
  7. Happy Steve

    Happy Steve Supporting Member

    Garagiste likes this.
  8. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    Don't worry about me, Casey. My newfound "career" as an orchestral bassist is giving me more enjoyment than should be legal, and I take my small steps towards not-suckingness with patience and humor.

    AND ... I submitted a piece I wrote to our director, and the orchestra is going to play it. I'm pumped!
  9. Garagiste


    Feb 16, 2013
    Brooklyn, NY
  10. AboutSweetSue

    AboutSweetSue Guest

    Sep 29, 2018
    Not sure how many hours I’m at. I’m easily in the thousands. I guess I’ll never know.
  11. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    If you were counting, maybe you aren't enjoying it...
  12. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I’ve got well over 10,000 hours in, but not sure I buy Gladwell’s mastery formula.

    I remember about 10-15 years ago I had a chance to talk to Kenny Barron back stage before a solo concert here. He is one of my jazz idols and I had spent many hours listening to his solo Maybeck series recording back when I was a pianist, and from that considered him one of the greatest living solo jazz players. I noticed that he had been playing a lot of solo concerts lately and asked him why he hadn’t been playing trio. He told me that he had gone back and listened to the Maybeck recording didn’t like the way he sounded, so he decided to book an bunch of solo shows in an attempt to get better at solo playing. My jaw pretty much hit the floor.

    So, I would say that “mastery” is pretty subjective. I know I sure as hell don’t feel like a “master”, especially when compared to someone like Barron. And if he doesn’t feel like a master…:nailbiting:
  13. Garagiste


    Feb 16, 2013
    Brooklyn, NY
    It’s a totally unscientific and random proposition. I just think it’s funny that some people buy into it. I like to track my practice time to see how I’ve spent it and be able to make changes when necessary. I’ve spent the overwhelming majority of those 400 hours of the last year on arco technique, which has paid off in spades. But it’s also true that I rarely use the bow when I’m playing with others because I’m in a jazz context and community. I need to spend more time on walking, soloing, and singing while I play. So I’ll adjust my practice time accordingly.
    AGCurry and Chris Fitzgerald like this.
  14. Dogfightgiggle


    Mar 4, 2020
    I was reading something about the study of tai chi that suggested that it was necessary to “invest in loss”. In other words—embrace the suck, don’t fight it.
    Chris Fitzgerald and AGCurry like this.
  15. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
  16. One of the sayings about getting older is that your long term memory becomes clearer (even though your short term memory asks you why you tried to put the kettle in the refrigerator !!). I have been looking back at my diaries that have gathered dust since 1975 to the present and seeing the constant flurry of daily family life with teaching at home and the pressure of working in a big 52 weeks/year orchestra. Much of that pressure dropped when I left the orchestra in 2002, to be replaced with more teaching and playing in local orchestras. One result of seeing so many more students and their personalities has been time to try and distill all my teaching experience and teaching ideas into a simpler, more direct form. My aim has become to provide the How To and Why in ways that the student understands very clearly as they progress. The bass and bow can also instruct you in many ways what they need if you look down and listen carefully.

    What I am saying is probably obvious already to you teachers? The end game too - in whatever form of music or ensemble to confidently play all the notes in time, in tune, musically and in style. Easy !! (ha ha).

    I see the process of teaching/learning the bass as trying to weave your way logically and very clear sightedly between and through six different areas -
    Left Hand function and development
    Right Hand function and development
    Combining the two hands
    Mapping the fingerboard
    Reading the music
    Developing musicality and expression

    Admittedly without having read about it I do not accept Malcom Gladwell’s theory of 10k hours to mastery. If the knowledge, experience and careful choice of structure and words I have now acquired were available to me as a student 58 years ago they would have focused me in a way that would have saved many thousands of hours over many years to follow. C'est la vie. "The Older You Get The More You Know and The Less People Listen." Back to Sudoku and crossword puzzles for me while Covid has shut us down here!

    Cheers all, get vaccinated and keep safe. DP

    Ps Like Casey says, have fun too !
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2021
  17. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    I don't know anything about Gladwell's theory other than 10,000 hours, so I may be missing something significant in it. The other important piece is this: Deep involvement in learning and improvement of one's craft.

    The most skilled craft I developed in life is computer programming. I was good at it not only because of the thousands of hours I spent doing it but because I dug deep into everything about it and always looked for the most elegant solution. I've worked with plenty of people with lots of experience who did the same mediocre things over and over. They were good enough to be employed but they were not ... masters.
  18. Neil Pye

    Neil Pye

    Apr 13, 2016
    Horsham, UK
    I think we should all lighten up! The bass is a frighteningly difficult instrument to play, and the 10,000 hours does not necessarily apply anyway. I think it actually refers to "hours of DIRECTED STUDY" not practice! Relax and enjoy, like Casey and AGCurry
    AGCurry likes this.
  19. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Gold Supporting Member

    We're supposed to be keeping track of our "...hours"?
    Nobody told me 47 yrs. ago!
    damonsmith, Neil Pye and AGCurry like this.
  20. One of the studies that Gladwell relied on when he formulated this idea was about students in top music programs, and one of the co-authors of the study was in an interview about a year ago (specifically, Anders Ericsson, and he died about a month after the interview was put online) and mentioned that Gladwell forgot to take into account how good of a teacher a person has. Like what David is talking about up there, a good teacher who can assess the student and really help them figure out where to go next and how to get there is going to get them to "mastery" with a lot fewer hours needed than a student who ends up stalling out because their teacher can't figure out how to get them moving.

    Also, the whole idea of it being "practice" neglects, at least, what Ericsson was studying: deliberate, high-concentration practice well beyond the extent of one's comfort zone. Anything spent in terms of maintenance of already-gained skills doesn't necessarily count under that idea, so the hours increase again. Decrease with a good teacher. Decrease again with actual performance, as well, because something that a lot of people forget about in both Gladwell's book and some of the studies related to it is that performance in whatever field counts towards those 10,000 hours that he asserts are necessary; one example he uses is just how much the Beatles performed in Hamburg.

    Increase (or further decrease, depending) the hours again when you take into account the idea of accumulative advantage (the rich get richer and the poor get poorer) that he talks about, and so on and so forth as the "number" of hours continues to go up and down worse than a poorly chosen investment portfolio.