“Dilbert” creator Scott Adams on practicing

Woodwind practicing also improves your spittle production.

Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams gave his interesting take on practicing today on his blog.

I’ve spent a ridiculous number of hours playing pool, mostly as a kid. I’m not proud of that fact. Almost any other activity would have been more useful. As a result of my wasted youth, years later I can beat 99% of the public at eight-ball. But I can’t enjoy that sort of so-called victory. It doesn’t feel like “winning” anything.

It feels as meaningful as if my opponent and I had kept logs of the hours we each had spent playing pool over our lifetimes and simply compared. It feels redundant to play the actual games.

I see the same thing with tennis, golf, music, and just about any other skill…

Read the whole thing here.

While there certainly are other factors that can affect a musician’s success, I do tend to think that a primary predictor of a musician’s ability level is the number of hours logged in quality, focused practice. With a challenging solo recital on the schedule for tomorrow night, there is a certain kind of appeal to the notion of walking on stage, displaying a log of the hours I’ve put in, taking a bow, and making my exit. But instead I’ll hope that the time I’ve put in practicing will make “victory” a sure thing.

5 thoughts on ““Dilbert” creator Scott Adams on practicing”

  1. I hope your recital accurately reflected your practice log! It certainly was an ambitious program, so I’m sure your log is lengthy. I agree with you that the number of hours of productive practice is a primary predictor of ability level. It reminds me of a James Galway story I heard regarding a master class he held in Switzerland. He walked out onstage playing his flute, and when he stopped playing, he said, “Why am I the best flute player in the world? It’s because I practice more than anybody else!!”

    • Thanks Betsy—

      The recital mostly turned out pretty well. Stay tuned for some audio clips.

      I’ve heard that story about Sir James. He is obviously an outstanding player and no doubt dedicated to practicing. I wonder how many hours you have to put in before you are ready to declare yourself the best in the world?

  2. Hi Bret,

    Thanks for the tip on the Adams blog.

    As far as music is concerned, I’m not a fan of ‘hours practised’. Whilst there is certainly a correlation between this and ability I think the second part of your comment is more valid – quality & focus. Without focus and knowing where you are going and how you are going to get there I don’t believe ‘hours’ alone will make a better player.


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