#1
Hi,

I was just having a discussion with my girlfriend and I would be interested to hear everybody's opinion.
Basically, she believes that you have to be born with the natural talent to learn music or any other skill and that the unlucky people who have not inherited this will struggle to learn, and never be able to perform to a high standard. Also, everybody has a natural 'limit' that they will reach and will not be able to rise above once they have reached it, despite any intense practice that they may continue to undertake.

Would you agree with this or would you take my side in saying that people may inherit traits that make them able to learn certain skills faster, but ultimately that anybody can learn anything they like with enough interest and hard work?

Thanks,
Lewis
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#2
Anybody can learn anything.
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#3
Your girlfriend is an idiot and her worldview smacks of Marxism.
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#4
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Anybody can learn anything.


^this. Even though natural talent helps
#5
There was an interesting analysis done of classical musicians, where they were rated blind, and then they compared to the results to a number of traits about the musician: how long have they been playing, were they considered a prodigy as a child, etc, etc etc.

And the other thing that mattered? The total number of hours of practice.

Now, that being said, I have a friend who swears that he tried for years to learn piano and just couldn't get it.

But that being said, it seems self-evident that certain people learn certain skills easier and faster than others, but I suspect that the big change is that if you're one of those people, you get a tiny edge early ... which results in you putting in a lot more hours of practice. And for most people it's the extra practice, not the earlier initial aptitude, that makes the difference.
#6
It depends on the person. Ergo, everyone learns at a different pace, whether it takes 2 years to master guitar/bass/anything or 20.

Ergo, your GF better have good tits. If not, slap some sense into her.
#7
I suppose this is what Malcom Gladwell's book, "Outliers" is all about. It's an interesting book that argues that amongst other things, time spent at an activity is what sets people apart.

The book quoted a study of a musical conservatory that judged their students talent. It was found that everyones skill in that school was directly tied to the time they spent practicing with NO exception.

As an interesting aside, he postulated that 10 000 hours is the amount of time required to become a master of any activity. That's a lot of practicing if you coun it.
#8
I agree with her that there is a natural limit, for example: no matter how hard you try, you will not be able to stretch from the first fret to the 24th. Human beings have limitations and some of us will have more limitations than others. However, all of us are capable of reaching a virtuoso standard of playing.
I think that natural talent does exist but that, with practise, a person can overcome their lack of natural talent. Many of my friends have progressed faster in certain areas of guitar than I have, they've picked things up very quickly but I still maintain a higher standard of playing because I'm obsessed with it! Whilst they might spend half an hour noodling around on the guitar every day, I did 8 hours of dedicated practise per day - the obsession made up for my lack of natural talent.
Speed is a by-product of shut the fuck up.
#9
I think to deny genes entirely is stupid.
Its like saying anyone can run fast, they cant if they lack fast twitch fibres in their muscles.
Same in guitar, if your fingers arent naturally dexterous, or your hand eye co-ordination isnt very good, or you have no rhythm in you then its impossible to say you'll be a great guitarist.

The test with the classical musicians was a fairly stupid test. The only reason they are a classical musician is because they are naturally good at guitar, if they werent they wouldnt be a classical guitarist lol.

But if you do have a natural talent for music, then the total numbers of hours you practice will come into play, to develop your talent.

I remember there being an article about the girl guitarist who practiced 15 hours a day or something like that, and everyone clicked on her preview track - she was ****ing awful at guitar. I probably played better than her when i was 14.

At the end of the day, if you practice a lot and do your best you cant do anything more than that.
Always waiting for that bit of inspiration.
#10
Quote by W4T3V3R
I think to deny genes entirely is stupid.
Its like saying anyone can run fast, they cant if they lack fast twitch fibres in their muscles.
Same in guitar, if your fingers arent naturally dexterous, or your hand eye co-ordination isnt very good, or you have no rhythm in you then its impossible to say you'll be a great guitarist.

I had no rhythm before I picked up guitar and I know for a fact that hand eye co-ordination can be improved. People who use these kinds of things as an excuse are simply weak-willed and pathetic.
I remember there being an article about the girl guitarist who practiced 15 hours a day or something like that, and everyone clicked on her preview track - she was ****ing awful at guitar. I probably played better than her when i was 14.

No matter how much time you dedicate to practise: if you're practising badly, you'll get bad results.
Speed is a by-product of shut the fuck up.
#11
Quote by W4T3V3R
I think to deny genes entirely is stupid.
Its like saying anyone can run fast, they cant if they lack fast twitch fibres in their muscles.
Same in guitar, if your fingers arent naturally dexterous, or your hand eye co-ordination isnt very good, or you have no rhythm in you then its impossible to say you'll be a great guitarist.



Yes, but those are all things that can easily be fixed. For your fingers and eye hand coordination, you can play sports or video games. Both are proven to greatly increase coordination as well as reaction time.

If you lack rhythm, all you have to do is start playing with other people, especially a drummer/bassist. Play with other people once or twice a week and in no time your rhythm will improve dramatically.

My guess is people assume the guitar can only be learned by certain people (like those with some natural rhythm) but the real problem is how you learn guitar. If you learn it by yourself, in your room, with no way to tell what rhythm you need, then your rhythm will always be terrible. There is a social aspect to guitar and the learning process and you shut ins who are afraid of the sun are doomed to suck.
#12
I dont see how you can go about the belief that you can become a virtuoso entirely through correct practice and enough of it.

Perhaps people do use the above reasons as an excuse not to play, but we're not talking about people who dont want to play. The way this thread talks about guitar, you'd think it was the one thing in the world where talent plays no part - just pure practice.

Say what you will, but when a kid picks up a guitar for the first time and can instantly grasp the chord movements and simple licks within a day and other kids cant do it for weeks i'd say there is natural talent involved. From then on no matter how much that other kid practiced (correctly), he'd never be as good as the first kid (assuming the first one practiced a similar amount of time).


Its blindingly obvious that there is a positive correlation of practice to ability but thats such an ignorant take on studying talent. For one - music is subjective, so the study must have been based entirely on technical proficiency - thereby nulling the whole point of studying the ability of a guitarist. bb king may not blitz arpeggios, but he's a better guitarist than the local shredder dudes around here.
Always waiting for that bit of inspiration.
Last edited by W4T3V3R at Aug 29, 2011,
#13
You can't answer this question it is to general. There can and will always be an argument for either side because there are far to many factors involved than saying EVERYONE can or EVERYONE can't.
#14
Quote by W4T3V3R
I dont see how you can go about the belief that you can become a virtuoso entirely through correct practice and enough of it.


Simple. The totality of the available evidence suggests as much.


The way this thread talks about guitar, you'd think it was the one thing in the world where talent plays no part - just pure practice.


That fact that a notion seems counterintuitive doesn't mean that it's wrong - especially, again, when you're looking at the totality of available evidence.

Say what you will, but when a kid picks up a guitar for the first time and can instantly grasp the chord movements and simple licks within a day and other kids cant do it for weeks i'd say there is natural talent involved. From then on no matter how much that other kid practiced (correctly), he'd never be as good as the first kid (assuming the first one practiced a similar amount of time).


Well, you're closing parenthetical is EXACTLY the point.

What if they didn't practice the same amount of time? What if the guy who struggled the first time he picked up the guitar practiced more. Isn't it possible that he would then be better?

You are unlikely ever to play with somebody who's practiced the exact same amount as you have.

The whole point of the "initial talent doesn't matter" argument is that whatever small edge you get in initial talent is quickly dwarfed by factors you can control: how much, and how, you practice.
#15
I'm not sure if everyone in this thread is arguing the same question. If we're arguing about whether or not am amount of practice can lead anyone (or just about everyone) to become very proficient of an instrument then I'd say that enough research has been done to show this is possible. Many people think that they have no rythm but having no rythm is actually a genetic disorder that is extremly rare (I can't link an article but you can google that). If someone could show one case where a medically ok person has put 10 000 hours into an instrument and come out a poor player than I'd back off this point.

If we're arguing that you can become a master of an instrument with just practice, without regard for genetics then it's obvious it isn't so. That said so many factors come in to play that the conclusion is that you arne't going to be a master. Out of the billions of people on earth, there are few musicians more respected than the likes of Bach, Mozart etc. Many things, including the the times they lived in, their upbringing, their genes and their practice (I've read something about Mozart having already practiced 10 000 hours by the time he was 8) lead to their success.

With all that, how does this change anything? If you quit playing because you've decided your genes won't let you be good then you're using that as an excuse (unless you are so hyper competative, and most likely insane, that you won't attempt anything unless you are in the upper eacholons of anyone who's ever lived).
#16
It depends on the person some people may have great natural talent but have other factors that will make them not great musicians and someone may not have natural talent but with work can be really good
#18
Quote by W4T3V3R

Say what you will, but when a kid picks up a guitar for the first time and can instantly grasp the chord movements and simple licks within a day and other kids cant do it for weeks i'd say there is natural talent involved. From then on no matter how much that other kid practiced (correctly), he'd never be as good as the first kid (assuming the first one practiced a similar amount of time).



Do you ever teach kids? Because I do, and that has never, ever happened. It will never happen, because it takes practice, callous's, and time, even if you are steve ****ing vai. Stop watching movies and try it in the real world.

Kids can train their ears faster and they are better at retaining information, but they lack discipline and a strong will. So if a kid has those, THEN he can become something very special very young.

I get the feeling you just want to get better at guitar through osmosis instead of practicing? You will never reach your full potential if you think you are already there.
#19
Your girlfriend sucks and is a quitter.
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#20
In some disciplines there is such thing as natural talent. For example. Sprinting, You can train all you want but if you dont have predominantly fast twitch muscle fibers, you aint gonna be a great sprinter. Thats genetics though.

This does not aply to guitar though. It's all about practice, imagination and applying what you learn
#21
Quote by mrbabo91
In some disciplines there is such thing as natural talent. For example. Sprinting, You can train all you want but if you dont have predominantly fast twitch muscle fibers, you aint gonna be a great sprinter. Thats genetics though.

This does not aply to guitar though. It's all about practice, imagination and applying what you learn


I would beg to differ.
I have played off and on for over 40 years. I just don;t have the ear, soul or "natural talent" for it! I havta work like the devil to realize a few licks and even then, don't have the style/ soul to pull it off in any but a technical sense.
Some folks got it....some don;t.
I still try, tho
#22
Quote by deltaten
I would beg to differ.
I have played off and on for over 40 years. I just don;t have the ear, soul or "natural talent" for it! I havta work like the devil to realize a few licks and even then, don't have the style/ soul to pull it off in any but a technical sense.
Some folks got it....some don;t.
I still try, tho

There's your problem, you're not dedicated.
Speed is a by-product of shut the fuck up.
#24
I don't think it has anything to do with genetics. Biological determinism tends to be pretty bad as an explainatory tool, especially for things like this.

That said, I would say that some people may have a better "intuition" and "ear" than others, but that largely has nothing to do with their physical ability to play an instrument. It's a matter of how quickly they pick up on things and how sensitive they are to their environment.
#25
Natural talent plays a huge role. But natural talent in music is really just intense dedication. I remember when I was younger and I saw my dad play guitar and I never thought I'd get to his level. Now I've succeeded him in terms of technical ability. I didn't let the fact that he was better than me get in the way of my goals. I had a former friend who hardly ever played and is still stuck playing power chords, usually in drop D. He just didn't have the drive like I did. Natural talent = extreme dedication.
"To this day I don't have a guitar idol. I have people who are my favorites." - Randy Rhoads
#27
Genes are a wonderful thing.......
So is hard work......
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#28
Quote by seeneyj
Genes are a wonderful thing.......
So is hard work......

+1

That's all there is to it..."talent" is hard to define but it does exist, but without hard work it amounts to nothing.
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#29
i like to put "talent" in general this way:
"The level of achievement we have at anything, is a reflection of how well we were able to focus on it. Because the only thing that is holding you back, is the way you're thinking."
-Steve Vai
So people who practice guitar a lot will get better, but those who put passion, joy, anger, sadness, and every emotion into there playing will become more talented. Now ofcourse this leads to you yourself, how well you can naturally focus and stuff, but really, if you focus hard enough, you can get anything done.
#30
Quote by cbara

If we're arguing that you can become a master of an instrument with just practice, without regard for genetics then it's obvious it isn't so. That said so many factors come in to play that the conclusion is that you arne't going to be a master. Out of the billions of people on earth, there are few musicians more respected than the likes of Bach, Mozart etc. Many things, including the the times they lived in, their upbringing, their genes and their practice (I've read something about Mozart having already practiced 10 000 hours by the time he was 8) lead to their success.


It's actually not remotely obvious that it isn't so.

Looking at Bach or MOzart is an interesting counterpoint. However, what makes those people special is not their skill in playing, but rather their skill in composing. Now, I absolutely agree with you that composing skill is somewhat more mysterious than playing skill.

But to hold up Mozart doesn't make a ton of sense in the context of a discussion about playing skill. We honestly don't know very much about where he landed among his contemporaries as a player.

Mozart's composing, on the other hand - well, he was composing from an early age. And his early compositions aren't considered particularly interesting. So it may be an open question if he was actually more talented at composing than his peers, or if he simply worked harder at it for longer than others found humanly possible, because he started so much younger.
#31
Quote by hansome21
Do you ever teach kids? Because I do, and that has never, ever happened.


Yes, and this is exactly what happened. I went to a school to do an introductory music class as part of a volunteering group thing, this one kid had never touched an instrument and when it got to 3pm he could play me back a progression (fluently), name the chords and arpeggiate the chords. Now he wasnt perfect at it, but i dont remember seeing anyone else get the hang of it that quickly.

Quote by hansome21


I get the feeling you just want to get better at guitar through osmosis instead of practicing? You will never reach your full potential if you think you are already there.


I've never thought my genes could hold me back, as my dad played bass extremely well and introduced me to guitar when i was 6. I want to realise my potential, and i know that means putting in the hours. But i know i'd have to put a load more hours in if i wasnt a bit naturally talented.
Always waiting for that bit of inspiration.
#32
While I do believe that MOST people are capable of learning anything, not anyone is capable of being great. Also, there are people that were unfortunately born with some kind of disability that could potentially make it much more difficult to learn some things.

Having said that I don't really think they can explain what sets the truly great apart (genetics?), and I personally do not believe that anyone can attain a level of greatness, like the Michael Jordan's, Jimi Hendrix, Gretzky.....
#33
I'm getting angry when I see this post, haha :P
It helps to be a natural talent, but that don't stops you.
#34
what is talent? How are you defining it?

To become elite there is a level of dexterity and creativity that not everyone posseses. Like the person who mentioned sports and training to be a sprinter. There's a platue that everyone will hit as a result of human limitations, and those limitations vary from person to person. Does that mean the person with the higher platue has more talent? Could be. But it could be very possible that the person defined as having more talent in that scenario took longer to learn the same things as the person with less talent... so where do you go now?

But thats elite... and lets face it, when it comes to music or playing guitar 99.99% of this world cant tell the difference between really good and elite anyway

Its funny... my girl says similar things. It falls under the category of something I call "adult bullshit"

The older you get the more you surround yourself with things your good at. Older people are more time sensitive than younger. Ive noticed older people (anyone 30+) are less likely to start a totally new endevour like learning to play an instrument from scratch because of the excessive sucking time it will take before the rewards to start happen. So they stick with things like golf, yoga, photography... i dont know. Stuff that wont take months of practice. 'Adults' will buy a guitar, get the 2 CD guitar for dummies book, learn how to play the chords for 'Knockin on Heavens Door' get bored because they dont have the time to practice and learn new and get better, then write off the guitar as something they dont have much talent for. Everyone here who's better than that knows that being better than that is simply a matter of effort and practice.

So let me throw this out there:

You will go as far as your love for playing takes you. All the great guitarists of the world have some thing in common... they all love to play. That love inspires the effort to practice, to get better, to learn more, to share, etc etc.
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