Part three on a discussion about memorization, and thinking about how you best spend your practice time. So far, we’ve looked at level one mastery, which is the ability to play the concept “in your hands” or “in your ears”, without the book.
Level two mastery is more complex, and takes more time invested to complete. The ability to play the concept everywhere on the fretboard, and in any key. This is an expansion of the original concept, and takes more time and focus to hit
Level three is the most complex of all. When a student hits level three, they can play the lick in any key, they can play the lick in the context of music, not just in isolation, they can create variations on the lick, and they can wrap it inside other things. This is total mastery. How and what to practice to get there will vary from student to student, and having a teacher evaluate and mentor the student will accelerate their progress greatly. A rough estimate I use is 10x. Take the amount of reps you estimate and multiply it by 10, and you’ll have a good idea of where you are. Let’s look at examples:
- Low estimate: 800 reps 10x lvl 3 = 8000 reps
- High estimate: 1400 reps 10x lvl 3 = 14,000 reps
- Lowest: 60,000 minutes: 1000 hours
- Lowest: 105,000 minutes: 1750 hours
That’s a lotta hours! But, it should give you a very basic idea of how much time has to be invested in order to reach total mastery. It’s also very important to keep in mind that we are viewing a SINGLE concept in isolation. We’re doing so to be surgical, but in the realities of playing and practicing, no one would practice a single 8 note lick exactly the same way for 1000 hours. It will change over time. But, the goal of mastery is a long-term goal.