Book Review: The Talent Code - by Daniel Coyle


Deep practice is what makes you improve at anything. A really interesting topic - need to think how I can apply this to playing musical instruments and learning languages for my own purposes. It means essentially operating at the limit of your skill, so that you make mistakes and have to slow down/ try again and correct them.


  • “You will become clever through your mistakes.” - German proverb

  • Skill is due to your brain re-wiring neural circuits in response to signals. The more time and energy you put into the right kind of practice and the longer you stay in that zone, the more it happens.
  • The trick is to choose a goal just beyond your present abilities.
  • The more we fire a particular circuit, the more myelin optimizes that circuit, and the getter we get. The best way to build a circuit is to fire it, attend to mistakes, then fire it again, over and over. The more we develop a skill, the less we’re aware of it.
  • The more the nerve fires, the more myelin wraps around it. The more myelin wraps around it, the faster the signals travel, increasing velocities up to one hundred times over signals sent through an uninsulated fiber.
  • Struggle is not optional. Make mistakes and pay attention to those mistakes. Slowly teach the circuit. Keep practising. Circuits that are fired most, and most urgently, are the ones that get built.
  • Chunking - identifying important elements and grouping them into a meaningful framework.
  • Meadowmount music school founder: Ivan Galamian. Students cut each measure of their sheet music into strips, put in envelopes and pulled out in random order. Break strips into smaller fragments by altering rhythms.
  • Experts practice strategically. When they fail, they don’t blame it on luck or themselves.
  • Thirty days of no practice causes skills to go. Limit on how much deep practice human beings can do in a day - between three and five hours a day,
  • Laws of learning:
    • explanation
    • demonstration
    • imitation
    • correction
    • repetition.
  • “Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens - and when it happens, it lasts,”
  • “People are shy not because they lack social skills but because they haven’t practiced them sufficiently. Talking on the phone or asking someone on a date is a learnable skill”