“To become a chess grand-master also seems to take about ten years. (Only the legendary Bobby Fischer got to that elite level in less than that amount of time: it took him nine years.) And what’s ten years? Well, it’s roughly how long it takes to put in ten thousand hours of hard practice. Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.” Malcolm Gladwell
I’ve been practicing banjo for roughly 1,000 hours, give or take, according to my practice log anyway. According to Malcom Gladwell, I only 9,000 more hours to go before mastering this.
Granted that does not count the 5 minutes here and there when I do a grab and go throughout the day or evening for that matter.
Mathematically speaking, I’m behind on the ten year thing and you know what, I’m okay with that. I’m getting better, I’m having fun and that’s all that matters. I did temporarily allow the fact that I travel too much to commit to lessons to send me into a bit of a funk, and I got over it. I had to if I wanted to play well. And I do want to play well.
I practice during the day when no one is home, or late at night when I can’t sleep. It all counts.
Lack of live lessons is no longer an excuse in today’s world. We have Youtube! Can’t join in on a live jam, find videos you like and play along. I’m practicing back up right now and videos are perfect for that. I choose songs I already know the chord structure to, grab my banjo, fire up my computer and play along. It’s really that simple and the upside, if I screw up and have to start over again — nobody knows. I might be developing a bad habit with that (can’t start over in live jams, you just keep playing), and for now that is okay. The other upside to this approach is I can play a small section over and over again until I’m happy with it.
I even found a way to get around the travel excuse, I bought a second hand banjo and shipped it ahead. I’ll take it out at night sometimes and sit on the back porch and quietly practice my chords formations and rolls.
Where there is a will, there is a way.