This month I want to share with you a book I casually borrowed from the library that is so full of transformational information on the path to successful learning that I simply could not put it down. It is called Bounce- Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham and the Science of Success, by Matthew Syed - a two-time Olympian, columnist for The Times of London, and a three-time Commonwealth Table Tennis Champion.
Using scientific research and case studies, this book reveals fascinating information about talent versus practice, motivation, hard work and will. For me as a teacher it was eye opening. For me as a musician it was well beyond encouraging and supportive. Bounce could have been named ‘Success’ as it delves into how we learn, what the requirements of successful learning are, and how champions reach their potential. I have shared information from this book with many of my students and have seen truly positive results.
Bounce gives an example of Andre Agassi, the tennis champion, as a young boy agreeing with his father that if he were to hit a million tennis balls every year, he would
become so good that no one could beat him. Armed with that goal he committed to hitting 2500 balls every day! Mr. Syed’s research shows that champions are willing and motivated to make the time commitment of 10,000 hours – 3 hours every day for 10 years. Success, even for someone of the caliber of Mozart or Picasso, is an outgrowth of time spent at his or her craft rather than extraordinary talent or ability. (Yes, he does use Mozart as a case in point.)
While I might wish for students who would practice 3 hours every day – LOL – I see great strides possible by applying the learning techniques of champions. Two in particular stand out:
1. Directed practice: students strive to make each and every repetition an improvement on the previous one. No matter how many (or few) repetitions they make, they are always striving towards a new goal.
2. A growth mind set: students become willing to make errors in order to improve their performance. They follow the example of the skating champion trying to learn a triple salchow. Knowing that she will have to fall 1,000 times in order to master this new skill,
the skater does not interpret falling down as a failure. Armed with a ‘growth mind set’ she interprets falling down as evidence she IS improving. Failure is not something that saps her energy and vitality, but something that provided her with an opportunity to learn and adapt, and a necessary step on the road to success.
I highly recommend Bounce to you and wish you good teaching and good music.
You can find the book on Amazon by clicking the link below!