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Old 07-24-2015, 09:54 AM   #1
Rickholly74
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Which is more important, talent or experience?

I was taking part in another thread I found myself writing about the difference between natural "talent" and thousands of hours of actual playing experience and thinking about the importance of both. When I first started playing I thought I was hot sh*t because I felt I was as good or slightly better than any of the people I was playing with locally. Over the years I went into and out of bands with various players who were pretty much on the same experience level as me. Finally I was asked to join a fairly successful band that had a very good reputation, worked a lot and was on the verge of having big things happen. As I learned quickly the lead guitar player in that band was incredible and played beautifully with emotion and technique far greater than any musician I had worked with previously. He made everything look easy. I saw he had a "gift", a special talent something I had never encountered before. To me up till that point, talent was a word I would use to describe good players and performers who practiced hard, studied and learned to play well. This guy was different and for me this was a life changing experience because I realized that what he had naturally, I didn't and never would. I had experience but he had massive talent. That realization depressed me.

This was my first (not my last) encounter with someone who had natural talent. Knowing I didn't possess that kind of talent didn't stop me from playing, but it almost did. Now after many years of live playing experience I am comfortable with the level I play at and when learning a new song becomes a challenge I often think back all those years ago when I found out what real talent is.

Can experience ever overcome real talent?
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Old 07-24-2015, 10:09 AM   #2
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We are all different and bring different things to the table. I am glad there are those people out there who learn very quickly and "can hear it once and play it". I am not one of those and realize I must work harder at it than many. Eventually I can get to a pretty high level with enough time in the woodshed but I don't see it as a competition with others of innate ability. Set your own goals and work towards them. Ignore other players goals because they come from a different starting point.
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Old 07-24-2015, 10:19 AM   #3
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For a straight up answer, no. Natural talent will always produce superior results.

Experience will just exploit that talent even more.

Can experience make all those great classical composers better than what they were? Can experience make Guthrie Govan better than what he already is? No. Cuz they are already gifted.

Why is it that Gordon Ramsay has achieved so much more than all the other chefs that walked through Marco Pierre White's kitchens? Ambition and... talent.

Inb4 haters gonna hate.

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Old 07-24-2015, 10:28 AM   #4
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You know, Malcolm Gladwell argues (with evidence) in "Outliers" that, essentially, talent just IS experience. I'm not going to repeat all of his arguments here, but the short version is that most people we look at as incredibly talented have put in way more work than we have.

I mean, a top classical musician is working on his skills for hours every single day. You could be somebody who works very very hard ... and you're not going to be working as hard as him.

In a larger sense, I find this kind of question pointless. The answer doesn't change anything.

Are you happy with how good you are? If so, great. If not, work harder. You will get better. Most people "stall out" because they get good enough, and stop putting in the hours. In your case, I suspect you stopped working that harder because you were already as good or better than the people around you, so you felt there was no benefit to being batter.

But now you do. Now you see that you've got another level you can aim for.

So the only relevant question is - are you going to work to get better, or not?

Furthermore, lets say that you do have a ceiling, because of "natural talent" - whatever that is. Do you really have any reason AT ALL to think that you've reached that ceiling? If you haven't spent a long period working hard with guidance so that you're working on the right things, and seen no improvement, then you really have no evidence to suggest that you've hit your ceiling.
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Old 07-24-2015, 10:30 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdc
For a straight up answer, no. Natural talent will always produce superior results.

Experience will just exploit that talent even more.

Can experience make all those great classical composers better than what they were? Can experience make Guthrie Govan better than what he already is? No. Cuz they are already gifted.

Inb4 haters gonna hate.


Are you being serious?
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Old 07-24-2015, 10:33 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HotspurJr
You know, Malcolm Gladwell argues (with evidence) in "Outliers" that, essentially, talent just IS experience. I'm not going to repeat all of his arguments here, but the short version is that most people we look at as incredibly talented have put in way more work than we have.


There are a lot of criticisms of that book.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outli...ok%29#Reception

Quote:
Originally Posted by HotspurJr
In a larger sense, I find this kind of question pointless. The answer doesn't change anything.

Are you happy with how good you are? If so, great. If not, work harder. You will get better.


Good point. I would tend to agree. (though I would put "(probably)" between "will" and "get", just to hedge my bets (you might be practising the wrong way, for example).

It also depends on how talented you are (or profoundly untalented), and how hard you're willing to work. There aren't just two extremes, "talented" (where you don't have to work at all) and "untalented" (where you will be rubbish nomatter how much work you put in).
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Last edited by Dave_Mc : 07-24-2015 at 10:36 AM.
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Old 07-24-2015, 10:37 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Serotonite
Are you being serious?

Yeah. I honestly think natural ability will overcome experience. Experience is incredibly important, yes. But in the end it only aids and exploits that natural talent.

And of course hard work is involved. Sometimes in life you have to sacrifice things in order to achieve what you want.

Last edited by mdc : 07-24-2015 at 10:41 AM.
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Old 07-24-2015, 10:47 AM   #8
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I know that feeling. Most of the time it comes when I see a musician who is the same age as I am accomplishing the things that I feel like I should have accomplished by now. I know I should be inspired when I see players like that, but it's kinda hard sometimes, you know? But I guess it's what one does within his/her years of playing that matters rather than the number of years one has played for.

And to add to that, each person's brain is simply wired differently from everyone else's, so to speak. It may all come more naturally to other people. But I think that also leads to another good thing - we get all different sorts of music. And what one does with what one innately has - well, let's just say it can lead to all different sorts of stuff.

The 'envious' feeling is a hard one to shake off, but after a while I pick up the guitar again. Then I make music. That's the thing - in the end, it's just you and the music. \m/

/peace out
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Old 07-24-2015, 10:57 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HotspurJr
You know, Malcolm Gladwell argues (with evidence) in "Outliers" that, essentially, talent just IS experience. I'm not going to repeat all of his arguments here, but the short version is that most people we look at as incredibly talented have put in way more work than we have.

I mean, a top classical musician is working on his skills for hours every single day. You could be somebody who works very very hard ... and you're not going to be working as hard as him.

In a larger sense, I find this kind of question pointless. The answer doesn't change anything.

Are you happy with how good you are? If so, great. If not, work harder. You will get better. Most people "stall out" because they get good enough, and stop putting in the hours. In your case, I suspect you stopped working that harder because you were already as good or better than the people around you, so you felt there was no benefit to being batter.

But now you do. Now you see that you've got another level you can aim for.

So the only relevant question is - are you going to work to get better, or not?

Furthermore, lets say that you do have a ceiling, because of "natural talent" - whatever that is. Do you really have any reason AT ALL to think that you've reached that ceiling? If you haven't spent a long period working hard with guidance so that you're working on the right things, and seen no improvement, then you really have no evidence to suggest that you've hit your ceiling.


Well, from personal experience Malcolm is clearly wrong. I have taught guitar, swimming, skiing, sailing, and high performance driving for many years. Some folks just "get it" right away with no experience at all. Lots of 15 yr old phenoms out there with zero experience and a clear innate ability they were born with. Others have to work harder at it. Some will never be very good at a particular skill because they were simply not wired that way.

The second part is absolutely true. You can never really know where your talent ceiling is unless you put in the hours. Sometimes you can move the ceiling a bit. It's not a competition though, just be the best you can be.

The question now becomes: "is this the most effective use of your time on earth?" Personally I suck at golf and have played enough to recognize a steep learning curve applies to me while many of my friends play well easily. I could spend 20k hours working at golf to be a better than average player, or I could spend another 1000 hrs and be a damn good guitarist. Choose wisely.
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Old 07-24-2015, 11:01 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdc
Yeah. I honestly think natural ability will overcome experience. Experience is incredibly important, yes. But in the end it only aids and exploits that natural talent.

And of course hard work is involved. Sometimes in life you have to sacrifice things in order to achieve what you want.


I think it depends on what kind of experience it is. Obviously, someone with natural talent will pick things up faster and will practice more efficiently. Therefore 2 years of experience will be significantly greater for them than someone who doesn't really know what their doing. After all, if you practice the wrong thing for 2 years you aren't going to be getting any better, and that's a hurdle that the naturally talented don't have to face. But if the experience entails good teaching, self-discipline and good practice, then the layman could easily catch up with the naturally talented with a bit more hard work.

Basically, experience itself does nothing, the right kind of experience works wonders. The naturally talented get a head start, but nobody can come out of the womb with full knowledge of music theory and fingers agile enough to play anything particularly difficult, that's something that hard work ad experience alone can give.
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Old 07-24-2015, 11:03 AM   #11
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Talent is not important. Experience is not important.

The only thing that matters is hard work and discipline.

Also I had to read that stupid book and the whole study is silly. There's plenty of people who have been doing things for 10k hours and still suck at them.

Discipline.
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Old 07-24-2015, 11:05 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Jet Penguin
Talent is not important. Experience is not important.

The only thing that matters is hard work and discipline.


Surely, hard work + discipline = Talent and experience?
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Old 07-24-2015, 11:14 AM   #13
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Hard work + discipline = Experience. It doesn't equal talent.
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Old 07-24-2015, 11:15 AM   #14
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Talent will yield quicker, and perhaps higher. Experience will be slower, but IMO will be worth more.

I can train much harder than a 6'4" Kenya at sprinting, but he won't need as much training to beat me at my peak as a 5'8" white guy. If we had equal amounts of training, he would destroy me.
I think guitar is similar to this. Some people are just naturally better at some things, and in order to match them, other not so talented people need to train more to be as good.
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Old 07-24-2015, 11:17 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rickholly74
Hard work + discipline = Experience. It doesn't equal talent.

This is right. Talent is something special. Not everyone has it.
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Old 07-24-2015, 11:17 AM   #16
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Another interesting question - what constitutes musical talent? A good sense for musical imagery? Absolute pitch? It's a very interesting subject.

Oliver Sacks' Musicophilia is worth checking out. You guys may want to look up the case of Tony Cicoria as well.
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Old 07-24-2015, 11:22 AM   #17
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I think you are right. I work with a lot of vocalists because my bands always have decent harmony vocals (3-4 parts). Some people can hear and create their own harmonies and others can't. I have worked with great lead singers who for whatever reason cannot find or remember their harmonies. It's just another talent. You can show them the part over and over but they don't have that ability to hear it.
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Old 07-24-2015, 11:32 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by mdc
This is right. Talent is something special. Not everyone has it.


Oh well that depends how we define talent. Innate talent is something that not everyone has, but if we just take talent to mean above average aptitude, then my post is correct. When someone tells a musician that they are talented, they don't usually mean "you can do this because you were born with it" they usually mean "clearly you've worked very hard and practised daily to get where you are now, and the results are very impressive."

That's just how I use the word, it might not be the Oxford definition though.
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Old 07-24-2015, 11:33 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by HotspurJr
You know, Malcolm Gladwell argues (with evidence) in "Outliers" that, essentially, talent just IS experience.


If you have mad chops you have talent, but if you have never played in a real-world situation (bands, session work, teaching, etc) you don't have experience. On the other hand, you could play in plenty of bands and not have any talent.
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Old 07-24-2015, 11:36 AM   #20
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Spelling is probably more important.
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