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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14 Responses to “Steal This Idea, Please”

  1. 20 years and counting, still practicing.
    2 years with intu-flow daily and going.
    4 eyars with new palo diet still going.
    its easy to practice every day but since most dont notice improvement unless doing deep practice I would hazard a guess that is the difference between those practices.

  2. Daniel, thanks for sharing this (and thank your wife for sharing it with you! I’m definitely stealing this and will implement it tomorrow. At school the children have a ‘learning log’ which records what they learn each day, but we have nothing for sports.
    One concern of mine is that I have so little contact time that I cannot impact their development as much as I may wish. I feel this will help them go away and be determined to practice so they can complete the picture!
    Thank you again!

  3. gpo613 says:

    My daughter swims. I found it interesting that she was sick right before a swim meet and literally got mad that she could not go to practice the day before. I have seen a change over the years about practice with her. Well actually more of an intensity change. If we have a schedule change or something comes up her first reaction is will she be able to make up the practice missed. She is just focused on getting her set number of practices in each week. There is no not wanting to go to practice at all. And her results show those habits.

  4. Chris says:

    Hey! There is a growing number of applications which go along with this idea of practicing and working towards being better. Check out, they seem to have digitized the paper practice sheet, which lets you share your methods with other people.

  5. My kids have sticker charts and now I have one too.

    The big message was of taking ownership of the practice sessions.

  6. Another very useful idea. Going to incorporate this with the 6 sports, 6 academic and 6 artistic programs that CampKO will offer this summer. When it comes to good ideas, I’m the Queen of Steal

  7. Susan Fine says:

    As the mother of two Suzuki cellists, I am familiar w the 100-day practice challenges but hadn’t seen this lovely chart. I would also love to share w you a piece I wrote about Suzuki cello and the kind of extraordinary teaching we have experienced, which often also consists of excellent coaching:

    Helping my sons to practice well is an ongoing challenge, though, and I was intrigued by the story you tell early on in TTC about the clarinetist.

  8. You really make it seem really easy along with your presentation but I in finding this topic to be actually something which I feel I would never understand. It sort of feels too complicated and extremely broad for me. I’m taking a look ahead in your next submit, I will attempt to get the hang of it!

  9. Sue Hunt says:

    For all who want to help their children succeed and find 100 Days a bit of a long shot, here is a series of daily emails which helps busy parents who are trying to make practice easier, and more productive for their children. There are lots of practice games, great practice charts, and simple ways of ensuring that practice happens every day:

  10. Abhirama says:


    I have been following your blog since about an year. It’s always a good read.

    I loved the thought that repetition is not just repetition, it is construction.


  11. […] 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.” read more here […]

  12. Ha!
    Daniel, the drawing is a brilliant idea!
    Thank you for the reminder – it is so crucial, yet, yes, so hard to do..

  13. Facebook is method of communications in today’s world, so wouldn’t it make sense to start teaching your children how to behave appropriately
    on the site, and on the Internet in general. I am normally
    a pretty peaceful person with a “live and let live” nature;
    I can put myself in the other’s shoes quite eaily and automatically, and yet I found myself dealing with an instinctive desire to completely crush this person. More widgets and apps are downloadable to help customise your handset.

  14. Dave says:

    I love this idea. I run a Brazilian Soccer School (mentioned as a hot bed in Talent Code) in England and have recently implemented the 100 day challenge idea into our sessions. I started as a ‘trial’ with one of the lads just last week and have found that everyone wants a go! The idea of being thought of as a rockstar for working hard and going the extra mile is something which has been really beneficial for a lot of our players.

    Lozz (the player in the video) is writing a journal throughout the 100 day challenge and following a number of other steps from the little book of talent such as pre session naps etc. I’m doing weekly updates throughout the challenge so go to our facebook page to check on his progress, the first video is here… (I hope that works!)

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