How To Become An Expert Musician

It’s easy to become an expert musician. You just have to complete the 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.

Kent, Matt and Erik Rolling Up Gig Hours
Kent, Matt and Erik Rolling Up Gig Hours

   I recently had a discussion with a good friend about how the 10,000 hour rule applies to musicians that play in a live band. If you haven’t heard of the 10,000 hour rule it simply states that if you spend 10,000 hours of deliberate practice on something you will become an expert. Deliberate practice being defined as a focused study and application of a skill or subject. If you’ve been working at your job for 10 years then you’re most likely an expert as 10 years job experience roughly translates into 10,000 hours of deliberate practice at your job.

   I’m sure that if you’ve been doing the same job for 10 years that your co-workers probably consider you an expert at whatever your job function is. The same thing can be said for musicians. I’ve been playing in live bands for 28 years now and I have become an expert at playing in live bands through experience. I’ve put my 10,000 hours in by practicing my instrument, preparing for live performances, setting up, tearing down and hauling equipment. I’ve put the hours in working with agents, club managers and other musicians. I’ve put the hours in mixing sound, programming sound patches and running amplification.  

   I guess to answer the title of this blog post, “How To Become An Expert Musician”, you simply have to do the job and start putting in your 10,000 hours. It may sound overwhelming for someone starting out playing in their first band but it’s really fun and exciting. There are 3 simple steps to do to start becoming an expert musician.

  1. Learn how to play an instrument well enough to play your part in a band.
  2. Get together with other musicians and form a band that can play complete songs together.
  3. Book a gig and get out there and play it!

   Okay, each step is quite a bit more involved and you’ll have to solve a lot of problems and learn a lot of things to get out there and play a gig. But that’s how you collect your 10,000 hours, by solving the problems related to being able to play a gig.

   One thing that I’d like you all to remember is that you don’t have to be a master at something to be an expert. For example, if you play your guitar for 10,000 hours you may still not be the best guitarist in the world but you will certainly have the knowledge and skill to play the guitar at a very high level. In fact I would say that you will certainly be an expert on the electric guitar if you practice it for 10,000 hours. The most important thing to do is to start!

Author: Live Musician Central

My name is Matt Rushton. I have been playing in bands for 27 years. I've been playing professionally for 21 years. I have opened for Sheryl Crow, Barenaked Ladies, Joan Jett, Little River Band, and Quiet Riot.

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