February 10

“10,000 HOURS RULE: Can All Humans Have Perfect Pitch?”


“BECAUSE EVERYONE WHO HAS WILL BE GIVEN MORE, And will have an Abundance. But the one who does Have even What He has will be taken away from Him”- MATTHEW EFFECT

As Dogbert observed in one Dilbert comic trip, “I would think a willingness to practice the same thing for thousand hours is a mental disorder.”

Can anyone develop a perfect pitch using the “10,000 hours rule?” Though perfect Pitch was thought to be a rare ability that depended primarily on early musical training in a “critical period” of sensitivity in childhood, auditory learning studies at the University of Chicago and elsewhere have shown individuals can learn to identify musical notes by ear even later in Life. Perfect speech is the ability to identify, without effort, the pitch of a musical note. I am not a musician but love listening to different genres of music like most people. However, as I alluded to in my previous blog my daughter is vehement about playing her musical instruments and I am not suggesting that she has perfect pitch but the inevitable question I posed to her amazing Music director is can she be trained to have absolute pitch using Deliberate Practice. Hopefully, I will blog after this, after she has accumulated 10,000 Hours of Deliberate Practice. The MIND must be cultivated but not too much otherwise become exhausted. “LORD Made Heaven and Earth, and on the Seventh Day he rested and was refreshed.”

What differentiates Experts from most of us, Deliberate Practice. According to Ericson Research Mozart was indeed born with a gift and it was the same gift that the children in Sakakibara’s study were born with. They were endowed with a brain so flexible and adaptable that it could with the right sort of training; develop a capability that seems quite magical to those of us who do not possess it. Perfect pitch is not the talent – and, as nearly as we can tell everyone is born with that gift. In the billions of years of evolution leading to modern humans, there were almost no certainly no selection pressures favoring people who could identify, say the precise notes that a bird was Singing. Yet here today, able to develop perfectly with a relatively simple training regimen. Since the 1990s Brain Researchers have come to realize that the brain- even the Adult Brain- is far more adaptable than anyone ever imagined and this gives us a tremendous amount of control over what our brains can do. The Brain responds to the right sorts of triggers by rewiring itself in various ways.

During one of the Coaching Consultations, let’s say she is Ms. Oeuvre, she relocated to Canada 5 years ago and she has been a stayed home mother doing the most important job in society, parenting! She currently runs her own business and hopefully gets into Public Health someday. During my Coaching, she wanted clarity on how long it would take to achieve mastery in her field of Entrepreneurship. Can She have absolute Speech? Serendipitously, later that evening I had an interesting conversation with another parent on the sidelines as we watched our sons’ soccer match. We were both frustrated that Hawk United have improved significantly under the current coach but they are not winning most of their games. We talked about the 10,000 hours popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers. Let’s Pause and do the math in our head, how many hours would it take the lads to achieve mastery in football (Sorry can’t get the British gene out of my DNA)? Please share your comments on social media or our website. Of course, the two examples are different from acquiring perfect pitch however they all entail mastery. The Fascinating Terman study concluded intellect and achievement are far from perfectly correlated

In the discussion of what it takes to become a Top Performer in a given field, Gladwell offered a catchy phrase: “The Ten-thousand Hour Rule”. According to this rule, it takes ten thousand hours of practice to become a Master in Most Fields. However, Ericson asserted that the figure in their report summarizes the number of hours that the Violinists spent on solitary practice by the time they were twenty. Unfortunately, this rule- which is the only thing that people today know about the effects of practice- is wrong in several ways! Gladwell did get one right, becoming accomplished in any field in which there is a well-established history of people working to become experts requires a tremendous amount of effort exerted over many years. It may not require exactly ten thousand hours but it will take a lot of hard work. Intriguingly, Authors and poets have usually been writing for more than a decade or more before they start to produce their best work.

Furthermore, the problem with the ten thousand hour rule is that, although Gladwell himself didn’t say this, many people have interpreted it as a promise that almost anyone can become an expert in a given field by putting in ten thousand hours of practice. But nothing in my study implied this. To show a result like this, Ericson maintains that he would have needed to put a collection of randomly chosen people through ten thousand hours of deliberate practice on the Violin and then see how they turned out. All that our study had shown was that among the students who had become good enough to be admitted to the Berlin music Academy, the best students had put in, on average, significantly more hours of solitary practice than the better students, and the better and best students had put in more solitary practice than the music education students. In Summary, in any area of human endeavor, people have a tremendous capacity to improve their performance, as long as they train the right way. If you practice something for a few hundred hours, you will almost certainly see great improvement– think of what two hundred hours of practice brought Steve Faloon- but you have only scratched the surface. You can keep going and going and going, getting better and better and better. How much you improve is up to you!

As training techniques are improved and new heights of achievement are discovered people in every area of human endeavor are constantly finding ways to get better, to raise the bar on what was thought impossible, and there is no sign that this will stop. The Horizons of human potential is expanding with each new generation!

No Matter where you look – musical performance, ballets, or sports – you will find the training follows a very similar set of principles. In my own humble opinion, deliberate practice is different from other sorts of purposeful practice in ternary ways: Foremost, it requires a field that is already reasonably developed, for example, musical performance, ballet, dance, chess, and many individual and team sports. Second, deliberate practice requires a teacher who can provide practice activities designed to help a student improve his or her performance. What do you think the last component is? Find out in my next Blog!

Deliberate practice is characterized by the following traits: (Wish I had these traits before I entered medical school!)

  1. Deliberate Practice develops skills that other people have already figured out how to do and for which effective training techniques have been established
  2. Deliberate practice takes place outside one’s comfort zone and requires a student to constantly try things that are just beyond his or her current abilities.
  3. Deliberate practice involves well-defined, specific goals and often involves improving some aspect of the target performance.
  4. Deliberate practice is deliberate, that is, it requires a person’s full attention and conscious actions.
  5. Deliberate practice involves feedback and modification of efforts in response to that feedback
  6. Deliberate practice both produces and depends on effective mental representations. Improving performance goes hand in hand with improving mental representation.
  7. Deliberate practice nearly always involves building or modifying previously acquired skills by focusing on particular aspects of those skills and working to improve them specifically; over time this step-step improvement will eventually lead to expert performance.

ID LIKED TO ACKNOWLEDGE my Mastermind Group who provided great insight and commented on the initial draft of this Blog. If you liked to join my Mastermind Group, Collaborate, and add value to Global Community go to https://www.niranojomomdservices.com/Mastermind and register!

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  1. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
  2. PEAK, Anders Ericsson & Robert Pool
  3. Perfect Pitch, explained by The University of Chicago, Prof Howard Nusbaum
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10000 hours rule, 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, 200 hours rule, Deliberate Practice, Law of Process, Mastery, Outliers

About the Author

Niran (Larinde) Ojomo is a Trusted Advisor, COACH, Speaker and Trainer certified with the Maxwell Leadership Team. He is the founder of Forward-Thinking Generation Next, a forward-thinking organization that challenges individuals and organizations to re-invent themselves, anticipate and adapt to the future and be culturally relevant in an increasingly complex globalized world.

Niran Ojomo

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  1. Excellent write up. My main takeaway is that I can keep on learning and growing and improving my heart and mind, so I can make better and better contributions to the world around me.

    1. Absolutely, Ese et al, thanks for your insightful comment. “Habits + Deliberate Practice= Mastery. Looking forward to our Mastermind. Do have a great week ahead.

    1. Thanks for your insightful, Tosin et al. According to Ericson, In the Deliberate practice class the goal was not to feed information to the students but to rather to get them to practice like physicists. I am trying my best too to engage with deliberate practice with my two children given that this is not taught in traditional class because of limited resources. Best Regards.

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