The 10,000 Hour Drummer

MasonTK

Member
Hello all!

I'm a first time poster, but I've been reading through here a lot, lately.

I am taking on a bit of a lengthy project--I'm going to spend the next few years of my life attempting to become a professional (studio or even just instruction) drummer.

I know, most of you have likely been playing at least that long, and I assure you that I'm not attempt to sell anyone short by saying it is that easy.

The whole thing revolves around the 10,000 hour theory--that claims anyone can become an expert in any given field if they invest 10,000 hours of their life to it, with deliberate practice. I don't think something like drumming can be calculated by hours, but I think it's an interested theory. The idea the someone can invest that much time into something with the intention of becoming one of the best, and actually succeed. Worst case scenario: I try, I fail, I'm still a decent drummer, and I can take that skill with me for the rest of my life.

I'm 27 years old, recently married, and have been looking for something in my life to say that I can do better that the average person. I think I'm hitting that point where I realize my "talents" have passed me, and it's time to invest my free time into something I enjoy, and can measure. Something I can pass along to my future children.

I played a little guitar in college, but never really learned properly. I've always loved the idea of learning an instrument, and spent almost my entire childhood begging for drums (ironically, my dad was a really good drummer in his younger years). It seemed like the perfect thing for me to do.

I will likely be posting here, as well as writing about my experiences on my blog (which makes NO money, and has no ads of any kind, so I promise this isn't a ploy to get traffic). I hope some of you can guide me along the way, as I'm sure I'll be posting my frustrations and concerns quite a bit.

Thanks for taking the time to read this---it seems like a great group on here, and I'm sure I can learn a lot.

Mason
http://the10000hourdrummer.blogspot.com
 

Anduin

Pioneer Member
I applaud your determination.

About that 10 000 hours thing. It’s probably true that it takes around that long to get to an uber-expert level, but that’s only one requirement for success.

Paul McCartney, when asked about the 10 000 hours thing, says that there were other bands on the same circuit as The Beatles at the same time and doing the same amount of work, but those other bands didn’t attain anywhere near the same level of fame as The Beatles.

So it’s not like the 10 000 hours will guarantee success in the field of music (or whatever), but it does look like that 10 000 hours is pretty much a requirement to achieve extreme technical proficiency.

Go for it!
 

MasonTK

Member
Thank you!

I agree, I certainly think that no one ever stops learning. Even McCartney has learned a lot since those early years, I'm sure.

I would bet, however, that those bands he was referring to still were very talented musically. They probably could teach their children a lot, and even make a living working in studios or teaching others. At the very least, they can die knowing they were good at something.

I think that's what it really comes down to...leaving this world with a stamp on it. I'd rather mine not be "the guy who watched way too much Food Network."

Mason
http://the10000hourdrummer.blogspot.com
 

boltzmann's brain

Senior Member
it's about will, and determination, and, of course, a modicum of "the gift", but without either of the first two, you'll be so-so. probably the most important step will be to find a really good teacher, who will start you the right direction. not a "puppy mill", but someone who will really challenge you, and give you the ability to think critically, and teach yourself.
 

NerfLad

Silver Member
it's about will, and determination, and, of course, a modicum of "the gift", but without either of the first two, you'll be so-so. probably the most important step will be to find a really good teacher, who will start you the right direction. not a "puppy mill", but someone who will really challenge you, and give you the ability to think critically, and teach yourself.
This is excellent, excellent advice. Best of luck and keep us posted (literally.. lol) on your progress!
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
It fascinates me, too.

I've contemplated this theory regarding my time playing the drums. I'm pretty sure I passed 10,000 hours a long time ago, but the amount of time it takes to get there is pretty daunting when you think about it. If I hadn't started young, with supportive parents, I wouldn't have had the luxury of summer vacations where I could spend 6 to 8 hours per-day practicing for a few months. It's just something not everyone can get away with.

If you practice one hour per-day, every day, you need over 27 years to get to 10,000 hours. You may think, well, one hour isn't that much, but as an adult with a day job, it can take a real effort to fit that much time in practicing drums. And if you miss a day, you need to make that hour up somewhere else, etc.

It's quite a lot of time to commit when you think about it. I guess you have to love it to find a way to spend that much time doing anything.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
2080 hours per year at 8 hours per day for 5 day work week. Thats what I do. So if I spend that I can become expert at drumming. I'm sure I would be better, but ask Bermuda or the other pros what they have spent and I bet they will tell you they don't feel quite expert. I won't speak for them but will conjure a guess.
 

Longfuse

Senior Member
I think that's what it really comes down to...leaving this world with a stamp on it. I'd rather mine not be "the guy who watched way too much Food Network."
Many years ago, I studied music. Spent huge amounts of time practicing my principle instrument (not drums). Outdid my expectations in terms of the level I attained. End result? I grew to despise my instrument. It also ruined my love of hearing others play. When you know how the trick works, it's no longer magic.

That's not to say I achieved world-class level of ability or anything, just saying that becoming good at an instrument doesn't necessarily lead to personal fulfillment and sort out all your problems. In my case, I let music become an obsession. I became ill...too much time trying to prove something and not enough time looking after myself.

With the whole 10 000 hours thing, don't let it take over you life. You mentioned passing something onto your kids. In which case,being a loving parent is the best thing you can do. Perhaps they might not want to learn an instrument? (allow them to be themselves). If that turns out to be the case, will your 'investment' in drumming have been worth it?

Using your time constructively is commendable though. Turning off the TV and practicing is a great idea. Might not be 10 000 hours, but you'll be a better musician. Maybe not the best, but is that so important?
 

Slippy

Member
ok lets break this down.....


2 hours a day would be alomst 14 years

3 hours a day would be almost 10 years.
 

MasonTK

Member
To all :

10,000 hours is a very unlikely goal. You're right, it would consume my life.

I'm not doing this to test specific numbers in the theory, but rather to show that at any age--and any experience level--a person can reach levels of great ability with some hard work and dedication. I'm not going to pretend like I go from awful at 9,999 hours to expert at 10,000. I still think a year of 1-2 hour a day practice would be fun to follow. If it takes 30 years to get to 10,000, and the blog/posts are 25 years in the past, so be it.

I know I've spent thousands of hours in a classroom, learning things that make me well-rounded. I would doubt I even come close to 5,000 hours learning any one specific thing. Even as a baseball player, I never spent that much time in actual practice. And when I say practice, I mean MEANINGFUL practice. A lot of the time was spent talking to friends, going through the motions, etc. I think I can be as good in one year, if not better, than a lot of those who say they have been playing for three years or so. It's about having a plan and sticking to it. Two hours means two meaningful hours--even if it takes me three to get there.

I also think that it's easy for children to develop bad habits, and once they are developed, they are hard to break. I'm 27, so focusing on practice with a mature and detailed attitude means I have a better chance of learning how to play correctly. It's not like learning a language or learning how to swing a golf club. I've spent 27 years listening to music, tapping my fingers on a table, and even learning the basics of a few other instruments. I think that all helps me.

And, I agree, I should get an instructor. For now, I'm going to use videos that treat me like I'm a 5 year old who never heard of "music" before. Just like with the Dan Plan--where he only used a putter for the first 900 hours--I need to master the basics, first.

Please feel free to give me some tips about drills to start with. Of course, videos will follow. I just got my kit today, so I'm excited to get going. I have two days away from home, and plan to get going on Sunday. Of course, I may take some sticks with me and do some tapping around until then.

Thanks to those who are following along!

Mason
http://the10000hourdrummer.blogspot.com
 

MasonTK

Member
Many years ago, I studied music. Spent huge amounts of time practicing my principle instrument (not drums). Outdid my expectations in terms of the level I attained. End result? I grew to despise my instrument. It also ruined my love of hearing others play. When you know how the trick works, it's no longer magic.

That's not to say I achieved world-class level of ability or anything, just saying that becoming good at an instrument doesn't necessarily lead to personal fulfillment and sort out all your problems. In my case, I let music become an obsession. I became ill...too much time trying to prove something and not enough time looking after myself.

With the whole 10 000 hours thing, don't let it take over you life. You mentioned passing something onto your kids. In which case,being a loving parent is the best thing you can do. Perhaps they might not want to learn an instrument? (allow them to be themselves). If that turns out to be the case, will your 'investment' in drumming have been worth it?

Using your time constructively is commendable though. Turning off the TV and practicing is a great idea. Might not be 10 000 hours, but you'll be a better musician. Maybe not the best, but is that so important?
Thanks for the advice -- I needed to hear it right now.

You know, I have a friend who plays pro baseball. It took him years and years of determination and hard work (and a lot of luck) to get where he is. However, last year he was put on the DL for two weeks. His cousin told me he was thrilled, because he had some time off. I couldn't understand that--playing ball for a living--but I get it. Any job will become work. But, he wouldn't take another job over his. I think that's where I am now. No passion at all in my job. No potential to develop any, either. I'd like to at least feel like I have days here and there where I am excited to go to work.

I don't know that humans are capable of ever being fully satisfied. The grass is always greener. I just want to make mine green enough to not look over the fence as often.
 

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
It seems like you want to commit because you've decided to do so objectively. That's cool but to be honest you won't know whether it's worth your while until you're actually doing it.

Us die hard drummers/drum addicts never CHOSE to be this way, we just have that emotional response to drumming and it's like a drug. We aren't really normal.

I hope you're not normal either, because I am blessed to have such a cool thing in my life and it pains me to think of all these other people getting around without any real hobbies or interests, sitting in front of the TV every night etc etc.

Good luck!
 

toddmc

Gold Member
It's a pity you didn't get those drums you begged for as a kid (hence missing out on all those years you could have spent practising) but we all commend you for taking up the challenge as an adult.
Threads like this make me truly appreciate how lucky I was to have supportive parents who did cave in and buy me that drumset (as well as living on acerage so no one could hear the terrible noise)!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
The love of playing the drums, and the joy you get from them.... and the need to want to give a great rhythm to the others...I hate the word should.... but really, those things should be at the forefront of your motivations.
You're putting a lot of undue pressure on things. I'd say lighten up Francis and learn to play the best you can. Enjoy playing drums and let the numbers be what they will. It will happen in it's own due time. You can be smoking good at 1000 hours, if you practice right, but who's counting?

Is your goal to be an expert or is your goal to be able to play awesome drums? You don't have to be one to do the other.

I think it's possible to reach 10,000 hours and still not be able to groove. It's not the hours spent, it's the net result of your playing that really counts.
 

jeffwj

Platinum Member
...And, I agree, I should get an instructor. For now, I'm going to use videos that treat me like I'm a 5 year old who never heard of "music" before. Just like with the Dan Plan--where he only used a putter for the first 900 hours--I need to master the basics, first.
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Please don't take this the wrong way, but:

A. You want to put in the 10,000 hours that people say is required to be a master of the instrument.

B. You don't want to take lessons while learning the basics - which of course includes technique (something that if learned incorrectly will take many of those 10,000 hours to re-learn).

It seems A is the attitude of a serious student while B is the attitude of someone who is a hobbyist. You said about your guitar lessons that you, "played a little guitar in college, but never really learned properly". Without lessons, how would your approach to drumming be any different?

Jeff
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I think the key of "10,000 hours" is the phrase "of deliberate practice"

Do I have 10,000 hours behind a drum kit? Yes. Between all the rehearsals with all the bands I've been in, and all the gigs, etc, sure.

Do I have 10,000 of deliberate practice in learning new things? Eh, no.

Complicating matters is there are numerous deliberate hours spent on skills that I ended up not using in the bands I was in.

I'd say the vast majority of my time behind a kit was spend doing the same thing (playing 2 and 4 in rock bands) which doesn't make me anywhere close to be even in the same ball park as a master, or even being that good. heh.

But as mentioned, even if a person hits the magically 10,000 in deliberate practice, that doesn't make a career in drumming possible. Much, much more goes into having a drumming career than just drumming skill.

There are plenty of highly skilled drummers who wouldn't be able to make ends meet without non-drumming income/help.
 

groove1

Silver Member
10,000 hours....I'm way past that and still want to be a teenage Tony Williams at the drums!

I figure nurturing my music is like nurturing a plant. I enjoy the very process of it! It doesn't really matter in the long run if the plant was extraordinary or blended in with the garden if you did all you could. Enjoy the process and you will be rewarded!
 

MasonTK

Member
It may seem objective in the sense that I just came on here and posted it, but really it's been a long time coming. Like I said, I have always wanted to learn the instrument, and never really made the jump to do it. I'm at a point in my life where it's possible to invest time into something worthwhile. But, you're right, maybe I'll hate it. I doubt it, but it's possible.

It seems like you want to commit because you've decided to do so objectively. That's cool but to be honest you won't know whether it's worth your while until you're actually doing it.

Us die hard drummers/drum addicts never CHOSE to be this way, we just have that emotional response to drumming and it's like a drug. We aren't really normal.

I hope you're not normal either, because I am blessed to have such a cool thing in my life and it pains me to think of all these other people getting around without any real hobbies or interests, sitting in front of the TV every night etc etc.

Good luck!
 

MasonTK

Member
It's a pity you didn't get those drums you begged for as a kid (hence missing out on all those years you could have spent practising) but we all commend you for taking up the challenge as an adult.
Threads like this make me truly appreciate how lucky I was to have supportive parents who did cave in and buy me that drumset (as well as living on acerage so no one could hear the terrible noise)!
I remember my dad having his old floor tom in the house and always beating on that, but he wouldn't ever cave and get me the real thing. It's weird how in his mind I'm sure it was like everything else--that I would beg and then get over it. In reality, it was the one thing I never lost interest in trying.

He supported me in nearly everything in my life, and I consider myself lucky to have my family. I think he just knew that getting me drums would open up the "want to be a rock-star" can, and he was afraid it would never fizzle out. He was right, haha.
 

MasonTK

Member
The love of playing the drums, and the joy you get from them.... and the need to want to give a great rhythm to the others...I hate the word should.... but really, those things should be at the forefront of your motivations.
You're putting a lot of undue pressure on things. I'd say lighten up Francis and learn to play the best you can. Enjoy playing drums and let the numbers be what they will. It will happen in it's own due time. You can be smoking good at 1000 hours, if you practice right, but who's counting?

Is your goal to be an expert or is your goal to be able to play awesome drums? You don't have to be one to do the other.

I think it's possible to reach 10,000 hours and still not be able to groove. It's not the hours spent, it's the net result of your playing that really counts.
I tend to do that to myself with everything. When I was in high school, I refused to play town baseball, and went off to play with a travel team that was way more talented than I was. It made me a lot better, and I think that can only happen if you aren't afraid of failing. I never went pro, or even played high level college, but I can honestly say I became as good as my body allowed me to be.

I can't just do things--I have to be engulfed in them.

Again, the theory is simply that deliberate practice can make amazing things happen. Specific number of hours don't matter too much. The main point of this is to hold myself accountable by sharing my learning experience with others. This makes it harder to get frustrated and give up. I just think the "hours" part is a measurable way to track my progress.
 
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