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Why the compound effect concept is the key to every music student’s success

Updated: Oct 13, 2022

Understanding the compounding effect of our daily small actions and our tiny habits on our lives, is the first step and the foundation from which we can start building the life we want and achieving our fullest potential.

Lately, after learning about the concept of the compounding effect, I found myself spending a significant amount of time trying to understand what I was doing during my successful times in life. To understand the root of my success, I reasoned that I should also look into what I was doing differently when I failed.

I’ve been diving into a couple of books that I’m finding extremely helpful in that search. Both books explore and teach the cumulative impact of our daily tiny actions and how they shape our lives. As I reread these books, I keep sharpening my understanding of how seemingly unimportant actions later manifest themselves in the results I experience.

It is worth mentioning that my initial reaction to both books was that I wish I had known all of this twenty years ago when I was starting out as a professional musician. At the moment, my understanding is that to achieve the results we want, we should re-think and intentionally shape our identity to align with what we wish to have. Or in other words, we need to behave now as the person we wish to become.

“The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity. It's one thing to say I'm the type of person who wants this. It's something very different to say I'm the type of person who is this.” James Clear

Most of you might raise an eyebrow at the notion that we can change our identity so let’s start with understanding the meaning of the word.

According to the dictionary:

Identity = Sameness, oneness, state of being the same

Our identity is created by our repeating actions, the things we do the same every day. By doing the same thing over and over we form habits which create our oneness - our identity. While we think that that’s just the way we are, most of it is actually how we trained ourselves to be. As long as we keep choosing the same actions and thoughts, we maintain that same identity.


During my high school years and into my Undergrad studies, I remember spending my 10AM breaks in the music library. There, I would find the score of the piece I was in love with at that moment and would listen to it with the flute part or score. Some orchestral pieces, the ones that really resonated with me, I borrowed the score, practiced the flute part, and tried to play the other instruments' solos that I liked. As I was still quite proficient at playing the piano, I would spend some time learning the accompaniment for the flute repertoire I was learning, and other chamber music repertoire piano parts.

With commuting to school, practicing the flute and being a high school student with big exams coming up, I naturally started to create daily lists of everything I wanted to do during the day.

My schedule included when I would get out of bed, go to sleep, eat, and study. Yet, the most important thing was when, what and for how long I would practice. By doing so, I ensured I would cover all the material I needed to prepare for my next flute lesson. I remember reading somewhere online that a helpful way to organize your practice was by 45-minute segments if your goal was to practice three hours a day. And so, that's how I planned it: 45 minutes of sound, 45 minutes of scales, 45 minutes of study, and 45 minutes of repertoire. I stuck with that concept for a few years and expanded on it when I had or needed more time to practice.

After a couple of years of these daily routines I started experiencing success as a musician. A very known flute teacher in Israel took me on as his student (though I still had a lot to learn as he later told me...), and I received a music scholarship that allowed me to pay for everything flute related, including lessons in the big-city, travel, sheet music and occasional masterclasses. The first big success came when I won the second prize in an international flute competition when I was nineteen and the youngest competitor that year. From the outside it might have looked as if suddenly I was discovered and enjoying all that success. However, as you can read here, it was the accumulation of these small actions I’ve been taking for years.

“The most challenging aspect of the Compound Effect is that we have to keep working away for a while, consistently and efficiently, before we can begin to see the payoff.” Darren Hardy


Two very good books I wished I'd read long ago are Atomic Habits by James Clear and The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. Both books, in their own way, help to better understand the process of habit creation and the power of that knowledge in creating the life and success we want.

Atomic Habits is both engrossing and one of the most effective guides to help you begin creating your new positive habits today. As a perfectionist, the concept of 1% improvement a day helped me to begin doing things that I’ve been postponing for years, such as writing a blog. By striving for only 1% improvement every day, or starting with constraining yourself to only two minutes, the task becomes so easy that it's nearly impossible to find a way to avoid doing it. This allows us to bypass overthinking and just get started. By repeating small actions every day, we can create new habits and over time, the cumulative effect will be noticeable. Starting with only one minute per day of journaling brought me to this moment when I was ready to embark on writing a blog!

“Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. The same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them. They seem to make little difference on any given day and yet the impact they deliver over the months and years can be enormous. It is only when looking back two, five, or perhaps ten years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones becomes strikingly apparent.” James Clear

The compound effect, similar to Atomic Habits, teaches about what the compounding effect concept is and how to utilise it to create the life we want. Hardy also focuses on understanding our core values and the fact that success follows hard-work. Defining our core values is crucial to understanding who we really are. Knowing our core values enable us to choose our own path in life. Then, we would know which habits we need to develop or get rid of to become the best-version of ourselves.

I try to follow and keep in mind two key aspects I learned from these books:

  1. Tracking what I’m doing throughout the day. For instance, listing everything or focusing on one aspect, such as fitness, practicing the flute, or my finances. You'll be surprised how many small habits we already have that we don’t notice anymore. In listing what I do, I bring my attention back to them. This allows me to identify which habits are beneficial and which are keeping me from my desired future.

  2. When I want to improve myself or have something in my life, I imagine what type of person is already accomplishing it. I then ask myself what habits such a person has and what's the bare minimum I can start doing right away.

I would like to invite you to take a moment and write down something that you have wanted to start doing for a long time. This could be something that you have tried, but couldn't maintain long enough to see any results.

To get you started, here are some questions you could experiment with. These questions were very helpful to me, and I use them whenever I feel I need to clarify for myself where I stand and what to do next.

  1. What would you like to achieve, or what aspect of your life you’d like to improve?

  2. What's the type of person that has your desired achievements?

  3. What would that person do on a daily basis? What would be their daily actions and choices?

  4. Now, choose one of the actions and write down what’s the bare minimum you could do toward that. A skilled musician, for instance, looks relaxed when playing their instrument. In this case, the least you could do is to have a mirror in your practice room. You could also look at it for two minutes at the beginning of your practice.

  5. Try that daily for a week or as long as it takes for you to notice you are feeling that itch to do more. Then, do the same thing for another week and when you feel you have amplified that urge even further, add only one more minute. I found this method very effective in getting me to start writing. I started with one minute of journaling daily to make it easy enough that I wouldn’t avoid it. This was two months ago, and now not only am I up to nine minutes a day, I am also writing a blog. The most significant thing to remember is that there’s no deadline or a specific goal except for improvement. The process itself is the experience we wish to have and learn from.

Positive daily actions accumulated over a long period of time will eventually lead to the success you want. Understanding the compound effect and how habits are formed has already been a transformative experience for me. I am now able to better understand my past successes and how to achieve the future I want. Through sharing my story, I hope that I have shown you how the compounding effect has worked for me, and hope that it will also prove helpful for you.

For further learning and reading:

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