We’ve talked often on this podcast about musical “talent”, including in our interview with Professor Anders Ericsson, the leading researcher on the topic, and the notion of talent and how it relates to musicality is obviously a really central one for everything we discuss on this show.

We’ve also talked more than once about “deliberate practice”, a specific practice methodology which can be applied to any instrument and task, and in fact across any discipline, not just music – and which promises to deliver several times faster progress for the same amount of time spent practicing.

Our guest today, Jason Haaheim, is the clearest-cut example we’ve come across of someone who’s taken these ideas on board, applied them very directly in his own life, and tracked and documented the results so as to demonstrate very clearly the impact they had.

Jason began in his youth as a very casual musician and his studies and work life led him into science and engineering rather than music. But today Jason is principal timpanist for New York’s Metropolitan Opera, one of the top professional percussion roles in the world. So how did that happen?

In this conversation we talk about:

  • The three big turning points that took him from a casual high-school musician to a world-class professional orchestra player
  • The four characteristics you need to bring to your own music practice to achieve this kind of rapid progress yourself
  • How taking a scientific mindset can be reconciled with the “magic” of music that we all love

If you’re someone who has worried that it might be “too late” for you to reach an impressive level in music, we know you’re going to find this episode illuminating and encouraging.

We hope you’ll enjoy this detailed conversation with Jason as much as we did. He’s a fascinating man who’s given these crucial topics deep thought and we can pretty much guarantee you’re going to come away from this episode with a changed outlook on your own musical development.

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Jason Haaheim talks about how "deliberate practice" and its accompanying mindset will help you reach new heights in your musical practice.