Steal This Idea, Please

photo-22You might recall last week’s post about an Illinois teenager named Torin Bakke, who recorded his improvement after 200, 1,000, and 3,000 hours of clarinet practice. So when Torin wrote in to say hello, I couldn’t resist asking if he had any advice he might want to share. Here’s what he wrote:

“I think the most important thing is just making yourself practice every single day. If you take one day off, it’s easy to take the next day off, and then you’ll stop progressing and get really frustrated.”

There you have it: Every single day. So simple to think, and so tough to do.

As fate would have it, one day later my wife Jen came across a useful Torin-esque tool: a practice map. It could not be more straightforward: 100 little circles, each representing an individual day, drawn in the shape of a violin (click on the image to zoom in). It’s from the Suzuki Music community, and it’s used by kids who want to make the 100-Day Club — which requires practicing 100 consecutive days. (In Suzuki, that makes you kind of a rock star.)

I love two things about the practice map:  1) it gives the learner ownership of the process, and 2) it points toward a larger goal. Each day is literally part of a bigger picture. In other words, repetition isn’t really just repetition — it’s construction.

The other thing I love is that it would be so simple to make other practice maps: a soccer ball, or a ballet shoe, or a trophy, or a straight-A report card. So by all means, feel free to steal this idea. (And, as always, to share any similar ideas or methods you might have.)

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