10,000 Hours… Malcolm Gladwell and Guitar

Malcolm Gladwell (author) says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field.  So I was thinking… if I were to break this down for guitar, then it may look something like this:

(In no particular order, and probably missing some things.)

Physical Aspect:

  • Making smooth and seamless Chord changes.
  • Stamina to play for long periods of time especially with Picking/Strumming Hand.
  • Pliable fingers for reaching notes.
  • Hammer ons, Pull offs, Tapping, Slides, and Bends
  • Strumming and Picking Patterns
  • Finger Picking Styles

Ear Training:

  • Keeping in tune.
  • Being able to hear Melodies within a particular Key.
  • Ability to play a Note you hear instantly.

Playing With Other Guitarists:

  • Develop audible and visual cues.
  • Expand on your playing style.
  • Balance between Lead, Rhythm, and Duel Lead playing.

Playing With A Band:

  • Further refine your sense of rhythm.
  • Volume levels and how to fit in a mix.
  • How and when to let space fill a song.
  • Sharpen creative senses when jamming and/or writing music.

Music Theory:

  • Chromatic Scale and how it relates to the fret board. 
  • Chord, Intervals, and Key composition. 
  • Scales and Modes as they pertain to Key.
  • Scales and Modes as they pertain to a style of music. 
  • Reading and writing music notation.

Gear and Equipment:

  • String a guitar and tune it.
  • Bridge adjustments as it pertains to the type of bridge.
  • Neck adjustments
  • Setting intonation
  • Signal flow and grounding

That’s just what I could come up with off the top of my head.  It’s not a comprehensive list, but it will give the Beginner level guitar player some insight on what it may take to Master the Guitar.  

Hundreds (sometimes thousands) of hours spent in deliberate practice on each of those items! 

But in all honesty, it is complete rubbish!!  It is NOT necessary to Master the Guitar!  

It is necessary to have a creative, fulfilling, and enjoyable experience!

It is necessary to make goals and achieve them… be that what they may.  If you want to write a song every week, then do it. If you choose to play cover songs with your friends, then do it… If you want get with a few people and start a band, then do it!

Especially when it comes to Rock N Roll, mastery goes out the window!  Being polished to play accurate will help (tons of practice), as well as having songs that resonate with people.  Then of coarse you need a well oiled management and marketing machine to get you gigs and promotion.  

But people pull all that off by themselves all the time… it doesn’t take a Malcolm Gladwell defined Master.  


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