18,200 Repetitions Per Month

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Re: 18,200 Repetitions Per Month

Post by Nanohedron »

Great thread, guys. :thumbsup:
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Re: 18,200 Repetitions Per Month

Post by tstermitz »

@Loren I mostly agree with your points.

I can think of some counterfactuals to the idea that persistence and practice can always succeed.

The most obvious is learning a foreign language. We all know many foreigners with strong accents, but only a few with almost no accent. It is obvious to me that factors other than training inhibit success. Some aspects of language patterns are wired very early in the brain of toddlers. Older language learners clearly have more difficult than younger ones. I traveled South America in my 20s, and speak (when in practice) with minimal accent. Learning "on-the-street" or inside another culture is part of the answer.

Getting back to music, as an older learner, I can testify that I learn slower (but hopefully with more persistent) than young whippersnappers.

One interesting thing that ties music back to language. Many non-native speakers with minimal accents are often musicians.
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Re: 18,200 Repetitions Per Month

Post by Sedi »

tstermitz wrote: Mon Apr 12, 2021 1:29 pm Getting back to music, as an older learner, I can testify that I learn slower (but hopefully with more persistent) than young whippersnappers.
I think that is mostly a problem of time (besides physical factors like the fingers/neck/shoulder aching faster than when younger). I often have to force myself to stop playing flute and work (damn it :swear: ). I am self-employed and work from home -- the advantage: I can play flute whenever I want. The disadvantage: I play flute whenever I want :D .
When I was 17 I learned guitar -- I didn't have to worry about paying bills and I didnt't care about my school grades, so I practiced 3-4 hrs a day. Today I am lucky when I can play for 30 min to 1 hr.
But considering -- learning when younger. When exposed to the music as a kid, you simply suck it all up like a sponge. I will probably never forget the melody of all the tunes I learned as a kid -- when picking up a flute, I can play those mostly instantly from memory with maybe a few wrong notes.
Far from it when trying to play Irish tunes. I have to work for hours/days/weeks to even be able to play them with a certain mediocrity. And I forget them rather quickly when not practicing them constantly.
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Re: 18,200 Repetitions Per Month

Post by Mr.Gumby »

The most obvious is learning a foreign language. We all know many foreigners with strong accents, but only a few with almost no accent. It is obvious to me that factors other than training inhibit success. Some aspects of language patterns are wired very early in the brain of toddlers. Older language learners clearly have more difficult than younger ones.
The link with various aspects of language seems fairly obvious. Spending time with Micho Russell during the eighties it was clear to me his music had the same patterns as his speech, it was a reflection of how his mind worked. It is also clear that some people who grew up with this music have it internalised in quite a different way from late(r) learners. Some fifteen years ago I was teaching the pipes to a young girl who grew up deeply immersed in a musical environment: her mother one of the top whislteplayers and also a fine fluteplayer. Lots of coming and goings of all sorts of musicians in that household. I was teaching her Willie Clancy's version of The West Wind on the pipes, which she picked up on the second pass. While we were running through it she threw a variation into the thrid part that was absolutely brilliant, When I questioned her about it she was completely unaware what she did, or that she did anything out of the ordinary at all. That sort of thing came perfectly natural to her. And that's one of the things that can't be taught. You can develop a good sense of variation but I have yet to meet a later learner who has the insight and freedom to navigate through a tune the way some people who learned through early immersion can. I am pretty convinced people who have learned their music through lifelong immersion store and retrieve their tunes in a different way from later learners.
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Re: 18,200 Repetitions Per Month

Post by david_h »

I get Loren's main point from the OP and the video.

However, the discussion has widened but I don't know enough about martial arts practice, and I'm not clear from the video, whether that was 18,200 repetitions of a technique and if it was in isolation, with feedback from a trainer or with the need to respond to something external (an opponent?).

An external element is implicit in Mr Gumby's points about immersion and tstermitz's about language. The first time I tried to play a tune with others it fell to pieces because I needed to do something other than what I had diligently practised. Would even more repetitions earlier have made it harder to adapt?
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Re: 18,200 Repetitions Per Month

Post by Mr.Gumby »

Would even more repetitions earlier have made it harder to adapt?
Problem is, playing music is terribly complex, there are all sorts of different interacting skills at work. Playing with other people requires another set of skills, being able to listen and respond, being flexible and adaptive, than playing on your own. But that too can (and perhaps needs to) be learned by doing it and doing it a lot.
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Re: 18,200 Repetitions Per Month

Post by m4malious »

There's some academic research that was done a while (10 years?) ago about musicians reaching a level of "performance" via number of hours practiced.
It was something that made the general news - a non musical friend of mine brought it to my attention. The conclusion, in lay terms - ignoring physiological differences, etc - was that
there's a spot around 10,000 hours that is where mind,body,learning,muscle-memory all come together to form "greatness". I thought that was interesting in relation to the piping worlds "21 year" folklore - if you figure an average practice of 1.5 hours a day, 365 days a year, for 21 years you get around the same figure....
I've found the discourses at Brainjo academy on musical ability and neuroplasticity kind of interesting too - https://www.brainjo.academy/aboutbrainjo/
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Re: 18,200 Repetitions Per Month

Post by gwuilleann »

I found the analogy with language interesting but it's a bit misleading because in the case of language one linguistic system interacts and interferes with another one. (And surprisingly, the interaction goes both ways :o )

The idea that you can only achieve native-like competence if you acquire a language before puberty was popular in the late 60's/70's, but there's quite a body of research that has shown that things are much more complex and subtle than that (you can read up about the Critical Period Hypothesis if you're interested). Long story short, it seems that what really matters is the amount and quality of the input (as a percentage of the linguistic input you got throughout your life, so to speak) rather than the onset age of acquisition per se.
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Re: 18,200 Repetitions Per Month

Post by Loren »

Peter Duggan wrote: Mon Apr 12, 2021 11:59 am
Loren wrote: Mon Apr 12, 2021 11:31 am Regardless, I do think it’s incumbent on the student to pay attention to the effect different style related elements have on the music, regardless of whether you’re specifically being coached on how to play more musically, or simply being told how to play a passage based on what your teacher wants. Either way you learn to understand the impact of each little change, so that you can later apply that learning to your own music.
Yes, I think this is key too. I'd say the best teaching, rather than simply saying 'slow down here', 'place this note/chord' or whatever, asks 'what do you think about a little more room here?', 'what does this do for the music?', 'why might you do this?' etc. And the best teachers have it and the best students learn from it! :)
Indeed, my best instructors taught me how to think about things, how to view them, and then showed me methods and systems for developing the tools and attributes necessary for facility for execution of the concepts principles.
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Re: 18,200 Repetitions Per Month

Post by Loren »

tstermitz wrote: Mon Apr 12, 2021 1:29 pm @Loren I mostly agree with your points.

I can think of some counterfactuals to the idea that persistence and practice can always succeed.

The most obvious is learning a foreign language. We all know many foreigners with strong accents, but only a few with almost no accent. It is obvious to me that factors other than training inhibit success. Some aspects of language patterns are wired very early in the brain of toddlers. Older language learners clearly have more difficult than younger ones. I traveled South America in my 20s, and speak (when in practice) with minimal accent. Learning "on-the-street" or inside another culture is part of the answer.

Getting back to music, as an older learner, I can testify that I learn slower (but hopefully with more persistent) than young whippersnappers.

One interesting thing that ties music back to language. Many non-native speakers with minimal accents are often musicians.
I believe it’s actually pretty well established that how much of your native accent you get rid of when learning another language just comes down to how much effort you put in to imitating very exactly how you pronounce the words, including inflection etc. Very often people just stop improving at the point where native speakers no longer appear to be having trouble understanding the non-native speaker. It’s what I call the “Good Enough Effect” - when people stop actively working hard on their skill development because they reach a point where it’s either getting them by sufficiently, or they just don’t want to work at it any more.

You see this everywhere, if you’re looking. At the shop where I worked we got a lot of instruments from other makers in for service or repairs. Every once in a while the head of the shop would look at one of these instruments, shake his head, and say aloud “Finish it!” because the maker had gone 90% of the way to making a really nice instrument, but he’d skimped on putting the extra work into the details, and all the details are what make the difference between merely good, and great. I’m not just talking about cosmetics here either, some makers don’t go the distance on important functional aspects.

As for for age related differences in learning ability, I confess that I find myself slower to pick things up than I used to be, despite the fact that I’ve technically become a much better student. Getting older is kind of a drag, but what can you do? :-?
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Re: 18,200 Repetitions Per Month

Post by Loren »

david_h wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 7:01 am I get Loren's main point from the OP and the video.

However, the discussion has widened but I don't know enough about martial arts practice, and I'm not clear from the video, whether that was 18,200 repetitions of a technique and if it was in isolation, with feedback from a trainer or with the need to respond to something external (an opponent?).

An external element is implicit in Mr Gumby's points about immersion and tstermitz's about language. The first time I tried to play a tune with others it fell to pieces because I needed to do something other than what I had diligently practised. Would even more repetitions earlier have made it harder to adapt?
Bruce used many training methods and during the month where those punches were counted he would very likely would have used all of the following methods:

Shadow Boxing
Hitting the heavy bag
Wooden Dummy Training
Focus glove drills with a partner
Offensive and Defensive partner drills with movement
Sparring with multiple partners

Bruce’s focus was on developing his skills for real fighting, not the performance or preservation of traditional martial arts, so his training was, by design, not primarily doing punches and kicks in isolation, like traditional forms. Instead Bruce looked at elements as falling in 2 categories: Tool development (punches, kicks, footwork, etc.) and attributes (speed, power, mobility, physical and mental toughness, endurance, accuracy....the list is long), then he chose training methods to develop all of those tools and attributes. However with combat against seriously resisting opponents being the goal, his training was heavily weighted to partner drills and sparring that would force him to apply his techniques and fighting theories on moving, uncooperative opponents, sometimes several at a time. Within this framework progressions were developed, particularly when he was teaching students, because in order to have success one obviously needs a method, with progressive, doable steps, to get from crawling to running, so to speak.

Hopefully that speaks to the issue of practicing music at home then being overwhelmed at a session - there’s no progression there to get you where you need to be. Playing alone you may be developing some of the necessary musical tools and attributes, but there are others that you won’t hit on. That said, much of what a person needs for playing in sessions could be better developed during solo practice by first identifying what tools and attributes are required in the session environment, then considering what else you could do in your solo practice to develop those “areas of opportunity” as we used to euphemistically say in the corporate world :P

For example, you can get recordings of session tunes being played.... in session.....and then play along with that at home, which should go long way towards alleviating being overwhelmed by the sound, if not presence, of other musicians.

Also, try practicing with the session tunes playing at different volumes: When the recoding is at lower volumes listen to yourself and try to blend in rather than stand out, because the natural tendency is to want to hear yourself, however playing louder than others can definitely earn you the side eye at sessions. :really:
Next, crank the volume way up and and try to get comfortable not being able to hear yourself so well. Do your best to carry on and try not to get lost, ‘cause big sessions can be like that. Focus on staying in time and in tune :lol: good luck with that. A note: My personal feeling is that developing playing power (volume) is best done solo, not playing along with others, live or recoded. There are multiple reasons for that, but this post is already getting g too long :sleep:

Ok, I hope there was something useful in there, I’m fading and not quite sure how coherent any of that was.....
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Re: 18,200 Repetitions Per Month

Post by tstermitz »

I believe it’s actually pretty well established that how much of your native accent you get rid of when learning another language just comes down to how much effort you put in to imitating very exactly how you pronounce the words, including inflection etc. Very often people just stop improving at the point where native speakers no longer appear to be having trouble understanding the non-native speaker. It’s what I call the “Good Enough Effect” - when people stop actively working hard on their skill development because they reach a point where it’s either getting them by sufficiently, or they just don’t want to work at it any more.
The language metaphor is good because I'm really sure that some people can succeed at learning with minimal accent, and others simply can't. I don't think it is just setting lower standards.

But, the other point you make is useful.

Intensity of focus and good learning techniques does make a difference. Better success does accrue more to people who work hard rather than the dabblers. I've noticed that some people get the burning determination or fanatic desire to succeed, and that separates them from the merely hard-working.

I've taught dance for many years, and feel I am a very good teacher. By which I mean, I can enable a path for a student to learn faster, or at to least avoid pitfalls. Still, the truly successful ones are only the ones that "get the bug" and become self-driven. Given that, the slogan I live by though is "You can't be blamed for the bad ones; you can't actually take credit for the good ones."
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Re: 18,200 Repetitions Per Month

Post by marshwren »

I hope this isn't too OT, but reading about accents and language learning got me thinking about another aspect of practice and one’s investment of time that’s actually been on my mind a lot lately— how easy it can be, in some situations, to spend hours and hours practicing how to do something incorrectly, making it that much more difficult to actually do it right once you realize your mistake.

Years ago, I was in a Russian class with someone who had just impeccable grammar, an expansive vocabulary, who was able to having flowing conversations in the language— whose Russian, in most ways, far outstripped mine— but accent-wise, spoke the language like they had never heard it. Everything pronounced like it was an English word you hadn’t run into before, delivered in this midwestern US accent. But it was clear that when this person started learning, the sound system hadn’t been a priority or hadn’t been addressed, so through all this time, years of study, they just used the one they already had. So now this person had thousands and thousands of Russian words in their hand, carved into their brain and ready to go without even thinking about it, but with this very non-Russian sound attached. All the speaking time just reinforced it and made it more automatic. And I’m guessing even if they wanted to develop a better accent, it would’ve been much more challenging than it would have been for someone just starting fresh in the language. If you’ve said достопримечательность as dosetuhpreemachattelnost a thousand times, it’s probably hard to say it differently.*

I’m personally leery of making too many language to music analogies, because I think it’s really easy to go too far with them, but I would say that something they have in common is that part of proficiency really is developing instincts, developing things a lot of basic things to a point that you don’t have to think about them. And it’s definitely possible to develop faulty instincts, internalize the wrong things, especially when you’re developing yours skills in isolation.

I think that holds true for trad— I think about some tutor books I’ve seen, some posts I’ve read here, or even just tunes in notation in general— and if you know how the music sounds**, it makes sense, it can be helpful. But without a lot of listening, a lot of good quality input, it can be very easy to misunderstand those instructions, those dots on a page. And even if you are listening to the music, if you don’t tune your ears, it’s easy to kind of… I don’t know, compress it into something more familiar. Just like with a foreign language. And I don’t think learning either of those things is a lost cause, it just requires a lot of listening, probably combined with some hints about things that a newcomer to the subject wouldn’t even think to listen for, because why would they?

In the end, I’ve definitely been persuaded that a lot of mastery is hours put in, but it’s got to be hours practicing the right thing, using effective methods. Which seems obvious, of course, but I’ve certainly spent time going down blind alleys myself.

I will also cautiously say that there might also be a certain something else, some quirk of personality or ability that contributes to really great ability, and can also make up for a lack of technical proficiency. I’ve definitely heard musicians who could do just about anything they wanted to from a technical standpoint, but what they wanted to do wasn’t actually that interesting. I’d say I’m agnostic on the issue, but I’d rate it as more likely than, say, the existence of ghosts.

(*I just want to be clear, I have a lot of respect for this person, and they were clearly very devoted and very intelligent, it’s just that in this one sphere, they had spent a long time practicing something that made them harder to understand. On the balance, a better Russian speaker than I, who got by because I did have a good accent, along with a decent grasp of the art of hemming-and-hawing in the language (“nu, ladno, tak… taktaktak…”). Being able to sing some old Russian crowd-pleasers helped too)

(** and complicating things, it doesn't necessarily just sound one way-- there are, I think, a bunch of ways to do it right-- but an infinite number of ways to do it wrong)
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Re: 18,200 Repetitions Per Month

Post by an seanduine »

Interesting. And yes you can stretch the comparison too much. That being said, I am a student of the Chinese Language. The most striking thing is the need to do intense, repetitive listening. Use the wrong tone, there goes the meaning. With what we do here, intense critical listening is key. You have to absorb the ´pulse´ and ´lift´ and ´lilt´ of the music. The ´Nyah´. Not just the notes.

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Re: 18,200 Repetitions Per Month

Post by Narzog »

I've always debated talent vs practice with my brother. I want to say that anyone can be good at anything. My brother always says otherwise. His example is the people we know who have played for 10+ years but are really bad. But I feel like they just learned or practiced wrong.

A similar topic is playing by ear. Some people say they just cant do it. But I think its just a trained skill that some people pick up faster depending on how they learned music. My brother can figure out the key and chord progression of a song pretty much instantly. I have a harder time with this. But as I've been trying to 'level up' my figuring out songs by ear ability, its getting a lot easier. Its like it just clicked, and now all of a sudden I can pick out notes and patterns faster.

I think the most important thing is drive and passion though. If someone's super interested in something, they spend hours researching, practicing, anything they need to improve. If someone's only partially interested, they may buy something and wish they could play it, but give it up right away when they realize they cant just pick it up and play.

An important thing is practicing properly. Someone can play hot cross buns 18,200 times per month, but it probobly wont do a whole lot, unless they are somehow finding ways to make it challenging, like upping speed, adding ornaments, ect. When someone thinks they aren't talented and aren't improving, they most likely aren't practicing in a way that will create improvement, or need to seek more knowledge to understand more of what's going on musically so they can figure out what they need to improve. Personally I have a really bad habit of paying the same things over and over. So I at least try to make sure I'm trying to push myself to play them better over time.

Hopefully this is actually on topic. I'm supposed to be sleeping but after reading the first post couldn't resist the urge to type a monologue haha...
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