The Voice and 10,000 Hours of Practice

My husband has suddenly become glued to watching The Voice on NBC. I have no idea why. He can’t carry a tune and he is, in general, not a music buff. For some reason, though, he finds this show extremely entertaining.

Different from it’s rival show American Idol, The Voice features singers who all have some type of musical talent. They aren’t any folks off the street trying to get camera attention.

Because he was watching it (yes, even over Monday Night Football) on Monday, I sat down to tune in for a minute. On this episode, a 17 year old with a unique voice was auditioning before the judges. The judges sit facing the audience instead of the singer, so they can’t see the person.   This tries to drive home the point that the show is solely about “the voice” or raw talent and no other factor.

The girl stated in her intro that he had been singing for about two years. Although she had talent and a sound that was intriguing to the judges, none of the four turned around to pick her. They encouraged her to continue to practice and come back again.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers: The Story of Success, a chapter is devoted to the rule of 10,000 hours of practice.   Throughout the book, Gladwell takes a different approach to framing the reader’s thinking about how people find success, citing that people reach “their lofty status through a combination of ability, opportunity and utterly arbitrary advantage.”

However, he writes that “achievement is talent plus preparation” arguing that although arbitrary factors like when you were born play into whether or not you will have success in certain fields (Many of history’s richest people were born between 1830-1840. Why? They were born at a time when they could take advantage of “perhaps the greatest transformation in [American economic] history.”) practice really does make perfect.

Gladwell cites just how much performing the Beatles had under their belt before they took the American music scene by storm in 1964, oftentimes playing 8 hours a day, seven days a week.

Whether you want to be a musician or not, if you want to achieve mastery in you field which fosters success, thenabout 10,000 hours of practice should do it, so the research says.

The young girl with the unique voice, even if she had been singing 40 hours a week for the two years she cited, she would have only tallied about 4,000 hours.

Want to capitalize on your talentspassions and values in a career at a young age? You better start working “much, much harder” as Galdwell cites, practicing now. It’s never too early to start.

How much time do you spend “practicing” your passion?

Mary Ila Ward

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