Have you ever noticed you tend to gravitate toward the same things in your closet? That’s because people often spend 80% of their time wearing the same 20% of their clothes.This idea is also used often in economics. For example, many companies state that 80% of their business comes from 20% of their customers.

The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 principle, is the concept that 80% of what a person puts out in any given situation comes from just 20% of what they put in.

Did you know this same idea applies to music, too?

The 80/20 Principle in Music

When you’re learning an instrument, the 80/20 principle can be useful by helping you stay focused and inspired. Developing any new skill can be frustrating – especially a musical instrument – and the 80/20 principle will remind you that your hard work pays off.

By utilizing Pareto’s theory, you will become more efficient in your practice and performance and, ultimately, get the most out of the time you spend working.

Practicing with 80/20

The 80/20 principle can also help you determine what you really need to practice. Some people are very good with their technique but suffer when performing in front of an audience. Others may have trouble reading sheet music but are awesome at improvising.

Knowing how to wisely spend the crucial 20% of your time that will produce 80% of your results is the key to taking your musical education to its fullest efficiency.

This rings especially true when it comes to to figuring out what songs you should be working on. If you’re a songwriter, you might have multiple tunes in your head at one time. If you’re thinking of writing a few songs, pick two out of the 10 ideas you have and work on them. Remember, 20% of your songs are most likely stronger than the rest!

For everyone else, this applies in the same way to which songs you should be practicing most.

Spending Time Wisely

While the 80/20 principle is not about “doing the bare minimum,” it is about focusing energy on what needs to be finely tuned in your practice sessions. If 80% of your positive results flow from only 20% of your overall effort, that precious time needs to be treasured.

People learning a musical instrument can take this theory to heart and use it in multiple ways. By focusing on skills that need to be developed and using your other time to strengthen what you already know, you may be able to succeed at a higher rate. For example renowned drum instructor, Nathaniel Smith bases his whole teaching approach on this idea of getting maximum results from minimal practice.

Yes, learning a new instrument has its ups and downs, but hard work pays off. The 80/20 principle is a phenomenon that affects people every day. Why not harness the power for yourself?

Still not a member of Musical U? Join today! Our community is full of other passionate musicians who can help you improve as quickly and effectively as possible from the practice time you have.