Students often ask how much they have to practice. Now I have an answer for them. The magic number seems to be 10,000 hours. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers: The Story of Success, quotes neurologist and music specialist Daniel Levitin:
In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice-skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals… this number comes up again and again. Ten thousand hours is equivalent to roughly three hours a day, or 20 hours a week, of practice over 10 years… No one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.
And don’t think Mozart got away with less. According to Gladwell, music critic Harold Schonberg, Mozart “developed late,” since he didn’t produce his greatest work until he had been composing for more than twenty years. Read The Artful Manager’s take on this here.