Deliberate Practice is a Riddle — And Here’s the Answer

(The Attributes of Deliberate Practice Epilogue) Among filmmakers, novelists, playwrights, and opera composers, there’s a term for when the audience knows something a character doesn’t: dramatic irony. Horror movies employ a classic form of this when a naive character walks down a dark hallway as the camera reveals the slasher just around the corner. Mozart’s Così fan tutte is built upon a foundation of dramatic irony, with Guglielmo and Ferrando donning (usually not very convincing!) disguises and switching roles in order to seduce each others’ fiancées. There’s another sort of meta-dramatic-irony that …

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I’m Never Completely Satisfied With My Own Playing…As It Should Be

(The Attributes of Deliberate Practice: Mental Representations) Regular readers: I know it’s been a long time since my previous post. I believe that Mental Representations (the topic of this post) are both the most important and most difficult-to-describe attribute of deliberate practice. Because they are abstract and intangible, they defy easy and succinct definition…so apologies in advance for the length. Anyway, I used my summer hiatus to consider how to write about this topic most effectively…and I’m honestly still not sure how successful that’s been. So it goes. Also during my hiatus, …

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Knowledge is Power…but a FRAMEWORK is Better

(The Attributes of Deliberate Practice: A Framework of Domain-Specific Knowledge) How many numbers in a row can you memorize? Maybe it’s a weird question, but have you ever tried to memorize a really long string of digits? Try it. We’ll start with something reasonably short. How about this? 3  1  4  1  5  9  2  6  5  3  5  8  9  7  9 Stare at that sequence of numbers for a moment, memorize them, then turn away from your screen and try to recall them in order…. (Go ahead. I’ll wait.) […] …

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Enhanced Perception — A Superpower of Deliberate Practice

(The Attributes of Deliberate Practice: Enhanced Perception) Back in 2017, I chaired the audition committee for the MET Orchestra’s co-principal timpani audition, won by my phenomenal colleague Parker Lee. Like most ICSOM orchestra auditions, the first phase is sorting through resumes, and the second phase is listening to applicants’ CDs. The process is entirely blind, so the audition committee is simply voting “yes/no” on a number. In this instance, the CDs contained only six excerpts in the following order: Tchaik 4, Brahms 1, Mozart Magic Flute, Bartok Concerto for Orchestra, Verdi Don …

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The Diminishing Returns of Practicing on Empty

(The Attributes of Deliberate Practice: Physical Limits and Sleep-Replenishing) Have you ever fallen asleep standing up? I have. I was a freshman at Gustavus Adolphus College. My course load was too heavy, my time-management skills not yet adequate to the task, and I compensated by burning the candle at both ends…and in the middle. I was basically the college-freshman version of Prince Valium from SPACEBALLS. One particularly rough morning, I trudged down to my dorm’s communal bathroom facilities. The shower stalls were narrow brick-encased enclaves, like upright sarcophagi. I blasted the hot …

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