Day 59: Why Practice Does Not Always Make Perfect

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With a good teacher, some talent, and practice, you can make beautiful music with this Thai instrument.

Parents encourage their children to excel by telling them that “practice makes perfect.”  In reality though, it takes more than practice alone.

It often takes a good teacher. We shouldn’t expect to attain perfection on our own.  Teachers with a history of producing excellent students know things about training that we don’t know ourselves.  Basically, if we practice something substandard over and over, it doesn’t move us to excellence.  I was impressed with a master ballet teacher I met.  The teacher was able to move students to a level that other teachers couldn’t touch.  Students would drive hours to take lessons with this teacher who had an unusual gift.

It takes the right kind of practice. Last year, ScienceDaily put out an article, Why Smart Practice Makes Perfect.  According to the article, variable training makes the brain think more deeply about memorizing movement.  This method is superior to continuous training of a given skill.  It basically moves one away from rote memory, which is a lazy way of learning.

It takes a certain amount of talent. With some instruments, for example the human voice,  it is obvious that no amount of practice is going to make some people perfect.  If a student has no basic talent for the field, no amount of passion is going to move them to perfection.  On American Idol, it’s quite easy for the public to see what some individuals fail to realize.  The bottom line is that we need a little talent before the training will help.

For today’s creative activity, recall a talent that you believe you could perfect with the right teacher and training.  Where are your natural talents?  Who is the most excellent person you know in the field related to your talent?  How did they get to that level?

“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”  Vince Lombardi

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