What my students discovered about finger patterns revealed the interesting dimension in a potentially boring activity. As they established their routines for finger patterns, they soon found that their minds behaved in new and surprising ways.
One of my students, Alice, was especially alert and curious. She told me, “I’m noticing other things while I’m practicing finger patterns,” reporting increased focus on the general sensations of playing; a new ability to hear and evaluate her tone; subtle changes in pitch according to how she placed her fingers or angled her left hand, and similar elements not directly related to finger patterns.
My other students discovered that they could also place their attention on different aspects of their technique, thus making this drill count for more than just its apparent worth. This was possible precisely because the drill itself was so simple and repetitive.
Since they didn’t need their whole attention for so easy a task, they had enough left over to work on other sectors of their technique. This was a fascinating development, both for what it gave their minds to do, and for what it suggested about the gains they could expect to achieve long before they’d completed their 10,000 hours.