closeup view of a man playing cello

How Top Performers Practice

This is an excerpt from an article by Penelope Trunk. Her 11-year-old son auditioned for Juillard’s pre-college program. He practiced his four-minute audition piece for three hours a day during the 6 months leading up to his audition. He ended up being accepted to Juilliard! Read on to learn about his practice strategies and what he learned from the experience.

Practicing – for anything – is a science

When he told his teacher, Amy Barston, he was bored, she told him boredom in practice comes from a lack of engagement. She showed him how to recognize disengagement. Then she taught him to look more closely at each note and listen more deeply with his ears and his heart.

Practice is a method to do anything ambitious and difficult

He learned to create a system and process instead of just focusing on the goal itself. The people who are the best at reaching big goals have an obsessive drive toward the goal. But, they are also able to break down the process of meeting the goal into tiny, bite-sized pieces and then take pleasure in completing each part.

Have a proclivity for hard work

You have to have a proclivity for hard work combined with the ability to take joy in the process itself. When someone is unable to relish the small steps, they just stop. The process starts to seem hopeless if you constantly focus on the end.

People perform better — in any circumstance — with a little bit of stress

Top performers self-regulate to generate the optimal amount of stress. We scheduled five competitions prior to this audition so he would get used to playing this concerto under pressure. He’s run up and down our street to get his heart rate up and then sat down to play his piece while his pulse was still racing. We have practiced waiting. I made him stand by our front door, where there is nothing to look at. He practiced controlling his thoughts and his nerves.

He worked incredibly hard and he grew from each step of preparation. So he already won, because now that he’s done this for cello, he can do it for any part of his life in the future.

This is an excerpt from the article by Penelope Trunk entitled “My 11-year-old son auditioned at Juilliard, and we both learned a lot about how top performer practice.” Visit this page to read the full article on Business Insider.