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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Become An Elite Problem Solver

Andrew Hitz

I was listening to the Unemployable Podcast hosted by Brian Clark the other day and heard a great interview with Tim Ferris. Tim is the author of The 4-Hour Work Week and a number of other books and is one of the elite thinkers in the world today.

He said something that had nothing to do with music but that really got me thinking about practicing. He mentioned the importance of becoming an elite problem solver.

I immediately thought about the practice room. And I thought about how any of us who are really good at practicing (you do anything for over three decades and you're bound to get pretty good at it!) had to learn how to practice.

And when you break it down, all practicing is is targeted problem solving.

Being an elite problem solver in any field first involves identifying exactly what problem needs solving, then systematically trying various methods until the problem is solved.

Rather than having the overall goal of "getting better at the trumpet", perhaps instead have a goal of "getting better at problem solving" in the practice room. This 30,000 foot goal will help anyone to get better at specifically targeting exactly what it is in their playing that needs improvement.

The greatest players in the world on your instrument are, to a woman and a man, elite problem solvers in the practice room.