10,000 Hours of Practice—is it Enough?

By in Education, Music Creation, Video Editing

Want to master your craft? It’s easy. Just put in 10,000 hours of practice and — BAM — you’ll be a master editor, mixer, or composer.

Well, maybe … let’s look into this theory a little deeper and see how it relates to mastering the art of editing, composing and mixing at a professional level.

Malcom Gladwell first introduced the 10,000 hour rule in his 2008 book “Outliers”, and the idea has caught on like wildfire. Simply put, it states that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” to achieve mastery in any field.

The mantra of 10,000 hours shows up in everything from TED talks, success seminars, and blogs and books, to a song from GRAMMY-award winning rapper (and Avid Pro Tools user) Macklemore, who sings:

“The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint. The greats were great because they paint a lot”

It’s a seductive idea. Put in the time, hit the magic number, and success is inevitable. You can even fast-track it like Elon Musk and work 100-hour weeks instead of 40 and you’ll be a master of your craft in just 2 years!

There’s just one catch — it’s not entirely true.

Gladwell himself agreed in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” that the rule has been oversimplified and over-applied.  The formula for success is more complex than a simple time calculation.  Among other things, it ignores two big factors:  talent and training.

To be a world-class editor, mixer or composer requires talent. Those 10,000 hours of practice simply reveal, shape, and refine your talent. But to really excel, you also need training from experienced instructors. And that’s where we come in.

Avid offers a full lineup of training courses for Media Composer, Pro Tools and Sibelius. They will teach you everything from basic skills when you’re getting started, up through highly advanced skills to learn long after you’ve cleared the 10,000 hour mark.  Most courses are offered exclusively through Avid Learning Partners worldwide, with the exception of the three introductory courses: MC101, PT101, and SB101. These three e-books are also available to the public on the Avid web store.

As an Avid Master Instructor, I’ve had the privilege of teaching many talented editors and instructors, many of whom learned Media Composer without formal training.  I remember this one editor and university professor in particular who had close to 50 films in his filmography from over 30 years of editing feature films. During his instructor certification class, we were going through the MC101 lessons, and when I taught how to correctly mark off an exact duration, he exclaimed (laughing), “No wonder my assistants complained I was always a frame off!”

By the time the week ended, he couldn’t believe how much he’d learned. Did he have more than 10,000 hours of editing under his belt? No doubt. Was he a master editor and storyteller? Absolutely! Did Avid’s training still help him fill some gaps in his Media Composer skills? Definitely!

The kicker is, he’s not alone. I could tell you dozens of stories like his. So here’s the big pitch — if even a master editor could benefit from the information we pack in a 101 course, how much better is it when you’re still early in your career?  Foundational courses like the MC101, PT101, and SB101 are designed to methodically build your skills from the ground up. These are the same course books used in top universities and training centers around the world, and come complete with media and exercises.  If you’re already ticking off your 10,000 hours, you owe it to yourself to invest a little extra money and give yourself the best chance at success.

As a bonus, right now Avid is running a special promotion, offering the MC101, PT101, and SB101 ebooks for 25% off until December 31. Grab them at a discount while you can.

Save on Avid eBooks

Take a comprehensive approach to learning the fundamentals of Pro Tools, Media Composer and Sibelius. We’re offering the MC101, PT101, and SB101 eBooks for 25% off until December 31, 2015.

I came to Avid as a working editor over 9 years ago, and currently work in Avid Education. I am a developer on the official Media Composer curriculum, but best of all, get to work closely with Avid Certified Instructors worldwide to train and certify new users.