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Turn on the TV and you will see people who are at the top of their game whether it is sports or performing arts. Yet, they didn’t just ‘luck’ into that position. Rather, they had to take the time to master a skill to get there.
This post on How to Master a Skill is part of a campaign for The Miracle Season through Grace Hill Media. All opinions are my own.
How to Master a Skill
To become the best at something, you have to work hard at it. Practice is essential.
But, before you even dig in to master a skill, you need two other things:
In our current culture with participation trophies on the rise, it can be a hard pill for some to swallow. But, if you do not have the ability to do something or the passion to pursue it through hard work, then you will not master a skill.
Someone may dream of being a professional athlete, but having 2 left feet will make that near impossible. Or, you may have notions of taking to the stage as a famous singer, only to realize that you are tone deaf and can’t carry a tune.
I state this not to discourage. Rather, I believe that we are all gifted and talented in different areas. It is finding our natural abilities and inclinations that help us pursue a path which can be successful.
Mastering an Instrument
For 2 of my boys and myself, learning and mastering an instrument is something we have chosen to do.
The path is not easy. And I have found that it is a lifelong journey as there is always room for improvement.
Find the Desire & Ability to Learn an Instrument
Not everyone is gifted with the ability to play or sing music. Yes, you can learn the theory and attempt it, but you may never get off the ground.
My eldest son had been going on about wanting to get a trumpet. He was picking up guitar and piano okay. But, when he attempted to blow into a trumpet at the music store during band night, it didn’t take. That hasn’t stopped him from testing out other instruments. Although, what he keeps finding is that string instruments are more of his forte than wind.
My 3rd born son is also gifted in the musical arena, although he did go for wind instruments (clarinet and saxophone.) In 6th grade, he auditioned and received a spot in honor band. After a year with the clarinet, he acquired a saxophone and began developing the skills needed to play it well.
Seek Out Instruction
This could be through a school, private instruction, or self-directed learning.
My eldest son begged me to teach him piano. When I tried to do one on one instruction with him, his perfectionist tendencies along with having Mom as the teacher equaled disaster. He gave up as soon as the need to use 2 hands was required.
Fast forward a few years and he approached it again with my providing self-directed learning opportunities. He has also added guitar and violin and will attempt to play any instrument he can get his hands on.
My 3rd born son was in a structured band class for 6th grade and the start of 7th. However, he arrived to the first day of class having already worked through part of the book on his own.
After he left the public school system to homeschool again in 7th grade, he transitioned to private instruction. His teacher joked with me that the instructor just needs to stay a few steps ahead of the student. Since that year, he has been working independently to learn pieces that catch his eye.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Ask any instructor out there, and they will tell you practice is the heart of mastering a skill. You need to put in the time to see the results. The more you do it, the better you (typically) become.
Having worked with a few piano students in the past, I can confidently say that it is evident when they arrived to class without practicing during the week.
While some people may be so gifted as to just dive right in and see phenomenal results, most of us need the time to make mistakes which are deliberately corrected through hours of practice.
Malcolm Gladwell, the author of the book Outliers, popularized the idea that proficiency could be attained through 10,000 hours of appropriately guided practice. This includes making those mistakes and finding mentors to guide you past them.
Another Example of How to Master a Skill
The Miracle Season provides a wonderful example to others of digging in to master a skill.
Based on the inspiring true story of West High School girls’ volleyball team. After the tragic death of the school’s star player Caroline “Line” Found, the remaining team players must band together under the guidance of their tough-love coach in hope of winning the state championship.
What are some skills that you or your child has mastered?
Do you find the combination of ability, passion, and practice to be the key for how to master a skill?