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The Mindset of a Master Musician

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“If you spend 20 minutes a day working on your craft, you will find yourself completely transformed within 6 months. How does that work? It is utterly and completely about mindset.”

Originally posted on

In his New York Times best-seller, “Outliers," Malcolm Gladwell stakes a claim that it takes 10,000 hours to reach a level of proficiency where one can achieve mastery in any field.

I did the math so you wouldn’t have to, and 10,000 hours comes out to 9 years of practice. Granted, that equation only works when you sum it up to 3 hours of practice every day for 3,333 days. Let that sink in. How many of us spend 3 hours a day practicing our instrument or honing our craft?

That’s dedication!

I remember when it first registered that it would take almost a decade to master my craft, I honestly felt stuck in a bit of a paradox. I was both determined to make it happen and deflated at the sheer number of hours I would need to clock in.

You see, I had never felt enthralled with personal practice enough to dedicate 3 hours of my day to it. I would always reach a roadblock or hit a dead end in my search for resources and I would end up giving up and finding something else to occupy my mind.

The tricky thing about creating an intrinsic source of discipline is finding a way to keep your mind challenged and interested at the same time.

If we lack ‘challenge’ then the activity won’t be engaging, and if it’s not inherently ‘interesting’ to us then we find ourselves too bored to be curious. Curiosity is the fuel that will help you reach 10,000 hours. An inquisitive mind and a sense of wonder are so crucial in helping you show up day after day. 

However, it’s the process of what we do when we show up to practice that loses so many people. So many musicians come to the keyboard curious and leave cynical. They hit an obstacle in their personal study and fail to see it as an opportunity to grow, but rather an opening to escape. How do we effectively practice? How do we enjoy practice? These are questions I found myself pondering after so many years of failed personal study. That’s when I came up with a method that changed the way I view the entire process of mastering my craft. I call it the 20 minutes-a-day rule. Not necessarily groundbreaking nomenclature, but don’t judge a book by its cover. I believe this rule, when applied, can truly revolutionize the way you approach your career, craft, and hobbies.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: isn’t this supposed to be an article about leading worship?

Yes, it is! You see, as worship musicians, it is pivotal that we have a healthy relationship with the art of practice. The Bible tells us to do everything as if we’re doing it for the Lord. It is so important that we engage with our musicianship and challenge ourselves to grow beyond proficiency.

However, we shouldn’t set out to master our craft so we sound better on Sunday, but rather consider our dedication as an offering to the Lord.

We tithe our time and resources and witness as the Lord magnifies His blessing through our newly honed skills and talents. Think of the people that God will bless through you when you become excellent at your craft. It’s so inspiring. But back to the questions at hand— how do we motivate ourselves to grow beyond the mundane and become a master of our craft? Let’s get back to my fun little process called the 20-minutes-a-day rule!

Okay, full disclosure, the process is baked out in the title so I probably need to find a name that buries the lead a bit more. Nevertheless, the point is this: If you spend 20 minutes a day working on your craft, you will find yourself completely transformed within 6 months. How does that work? It is utterly and completely about mindset. 

I don’t promise to have some golden key that will launch your new music career or magically turn you into a prodigy. I’m not saying this idea will speed up the 10,000-hour rule or cheapen your route to excellence. No, it’s far from that.

But what I can assure you of is this: the transformation of your mindset manifests the ability to shift the paradigm of the pathway to mastery from a maze to a motorway. Your mindset has fogged up your view and from your vantage point, it feels hopeless. But with clarity comes confidence, and confidence gives way to achievement!

Let’s make this easy to remember. Here are 3 easy steps to help change your mindset: 

Step 1: Build a Bridge

We often look at the true virtuosos of music and think to ourselves, “I’ll never play like that.” Before we’ve even begun the journey, we’ve placed a canyon between us and success. The chasm that forms chains us to our insecurities and reinforces the idea that we need to be like someone else in order to be excellent. This is the first thing we must shift in our mindset.

Mastery of your music doesn’t come from sounding like someone else, it comes from becoming the best version of yourself!

This may seem like an equally difficult canyon to navigate, but we can do it if we build a bridge to the other side one step at a time. 

Firstly, you must establish a clear picture of who you want to become. This is where our daily 20-minute practice begins. Because practicing can be mundane, we tend to lose sight of what we’re reaching for. We begin working on our skills but fall into the canyon of self-doubt where music becomes monotonous and we struggle over each bar or chord voicing. The key is to always begin your daily practice by setting a picture of who you want to become. Take the first 5 minutes to envision who you want to be in the near future. What will you be able to do after a month of practice? A year? Envision that version of yourself and allow that idea to affirm your efforts as you show up each day. By doing this, you build a bridge in your mind that gives a clear picture of where you’re going. A north star to guide you to the future version of yourself.

There isn’t a wrong or right way to do this, but I will encourage you to document your thoughts in a journal so you can keep track of your journey. Setting a clear picture of who you want to become will keep you safely distant from trying to become someone else.

Trying to become like someone else is what leads so many musicians to inevitable burnout.

Step 2: Invest in resources that bring joy

So we’ve taken 5 minutes to center our goals and now with the remaining 15 minutes we have to maximize the time we have left. Remember, the goal is just 20 minutes a day! However, there is nothing more depleting than when you take time to learn a skill and the source of knowledge you are using turns out to be flawed and incorrect. It’s so tiresome when we spend hours trying to find the right book to teach us, the correct chord chart to play with, or the accurate video to learn from. If you are serious about learning a skill then you should be serious about the resources you use to get there. 

The mindset shift that needed to take place for me was the fear of investing actual dollars into my continued education. I can’t explain why, but I always wanted to find the free version of the chart or the cheap version of a class. These resources brought zero joy to my time of practice and made it harder to show up. But once I started to invest in my resources, it felt special to show up every day!

As a Worship Leader, it can be difficult to find the right resources to grow our craft and learn the constant flow of songs in our repertoire. On top of mastering our musicianship, we often need to learn multiple songs for Sunday and show up prepared every week! 

That’s why I love the Solo Practice bundle from It’s built for the musician who cares about their craft. The Solo Practice Bundle helped me enjoy practice and access all the resources needed to grow my musicianship. The bundle gave me access to ChartBuilder and RehearsalMix: which means I have over 22,000 accurate charts and rehearsal audio for each instrument part. These premium rehearsal resources created a space for me to enjoy showing up every day! This way, I maximize the 15 minutes of practice I have and streamline the way I learn. If you invest in the resources that make learning a joy, you will without a doubt show up day after day. This brings me to my last step: trust the process. 

Step 3: Trust the process

To reach the point of excellence in music, you must understand that transformation takes time. If you’re going to show up every day, you must trust the process. Gladwell's 10,000-hour rule underscores the importance of consistent and purposeful training. Much like a sculptor chisels away at a block of marble, musicians must hone their skills through dedicated repetition and focused effort. Each minute we spend in practice accumulates, inching the musician closer to mastery. But what I have found is that the real transformation occurs when we begin to truly enjoy our daily dedicated time of practice.

Over 6 months your ideology will shift and the 20 minutes you’ve spent in practice will become like a good book you can’t put down. With a growing curiosity, 20 minutes of dedicated time will turn into 40 minutes because you simply can’t stop. In the coming weeks, 40 will turn to 60, and so on.

Your goals will transform, and your mindset will find a new anchor. You started with a desire to become a finished product, and you will discover a newfound joy in the journey itself. This is true transformation, and this is true excellence. 

You see, it may take 10,000 hours to become a master musician. But excellence is a state of mind, not a polished product. The key to growth in your craft is the deliberate decision to embrace the you that you want to become, find joy in every moment, and trust the process. In doing this, you’ll surpass even the greatest musicians as you uncover the intrinsic motivation you need to master your craft. You will find that you crossed the bridge you made in your mind, and it had nothing to do with proficiency but rather perspective.

It may take you a decade for the world to consider you a master, but you’ll enjoy every step of the way—for only 20 minutes a day.



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