Hi guys! My name is Jiri (Czech Republic, Central Europe). I`m fairly new to this forum and I have been taking lessons from pebber just for two months or so. Please keep in mind that I`m not a native speaker of English, so be patient with me please. Thanks.
My question is about your take on natural talent. I`ve read a few books like Talent Code, or Outliers that are sceptical about such a thing as natural talent in general. In my experience, on the other hand, is that some people fairly obviously show some inborn propensity for a certain activity, be it playing a musical instrument or whatever. Typically, they quickly and with little effort reach an intermediate level of skills at something and it`s not unusual that they often stop there and don`t develop any further. I guess that it`s because mastery/virtuosity involves some level of boredom, perseverance and conscious effort to reach this level and quite often these gifted people give up, because it`s not fun and easy for them anymore. I know, it sounds like a cliché, but I wonder what is this thing with reluctance, supposedly science based, to acknowledge such a thing as natural, raw talent?
Well, science always starts from a place of skepticism, but there's obviously such a thing as natural talent at learning a skill or instrument. A lot of these authors are little better than self-help snake oil salesmen in my opinion, not true scientists. They say sex sells, and it's true, but science also sells. Tons of commercials load in scientific sounding phrases to make their products more appealing, and of a better quality than competing brands. And every author wants to sell 50 million books if they can. I have a hard time imagining how a true scientific test regarding natural talent can be accurate, or in any way able to be reproduced. The ability to reproduce a test is absolutely necessary for scientific study. It's simply a fact that some people, regardless of their IQ, can pick up a skill faster than others. Call it a knack, or a gift, or natural talent, it all amounts to the same thing.
I'm interested with your view on naturally talented people often becoming mediocre due to lack of focus or perseverance. I think it has happened with me. When I was in highschool I could shred better than I can now, and I became one of the best guitarists in my school fairly quickly. I would practice sweeping, tapping, alternate picking and legato style shredding for hours a day, but now that I'm older I don't feel compelled to become a virtuoso, not necessarily due to a lack of perseverance though. I've had a few bands, but I was fed up with other musicians not taking it seriously, and other petty squabbles that happen with bands. A lot of musicians, although I am one, kind of annoy me these days, to be honest. I practice less because pushing up to a new plateau in my playing is very time consuming, and I don't see myself pursuing music professionally any more. I don't have that same drive for guitar that I did when I was in highschool and trying to become the new steve Vai or Joe satriani or, gods forbid, Yngwie Malmsteen. Also my tastes have changed. I used to be a technique snob, but now Bob Dylan is one of my favorite musicians. There's a man with ridiculously mediocre technique who became one of the most respected musicians in the world. I wanted my solos to be less "shreddy" and more melodic, so I don't push myself as hard as I used to.
Actually, you`ve said everything I had in mind as for as occurrence of natural talent in people. Obviously, I didn`t know your personal story (and it suggest that you weren`t mediocre or just intermediate), but as you say, you lost your drive and that`s where the problem usually is. Yes, life often gets in the way, but my point is that you (and many others) give up and don`t do what it takes to become their best version of them as musicians. I`m still not sure why. I`m totally with you about the shred guys vs great song-writers, such as Bob Dylan. I have to say though that everything I look for in music, I can find in J.S. Bach. Everything else is a bonus, so to speak. All that said, I enjoy a lot of musical genres, regardless of the time period. One of my favorite artists is Michael Jackson, for example. I still wonder though why so many promising, gifted players don`t have everything together in order to overcome possible boredom inherent in massive repetition (and perseverance, will-power, you name it) and see their gift to the final end and become masters of their respective art and craft. It`s still a kind of mystery to me. Maybe it is that their accomplishments prior to the real work, had come to them relatively easily. I`m really not sure to be honest.
Kind of a double edged sword. My mathematical abilities are far above average; even my calculus professor was amazed at my ability to punch numbers into a calculator while performing other calculations in my head (I never showed my work!!)
As far as music goes, I think all humans have the ability to understand music, often referred to as the "universal language." The ability to play the guitar (or to suck like I do) depends more upon mechanical ability and dexterity than actual musical ability. The idea that Jimi Hendrix picked up a six string and immediately made it sound awesome is laughable. Few can imagine that he had to practice just like everyone else.
No doubt, musicians have well developed hearing; Cognac makers have well developed sense of smell. This comes from years of focus. Tonal recognition and relative pitch are skill that can be developed over time. Most musicians don't have "perfect pitch"; some do. Having perfect pitch will not build dexterity in the fingers!!
RE: natural talentin PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Fri Jul 26, 2019 5:05 pm
by Cleudi Martins • 24 Posts
I think that we don't put everything into music simply because we fear the failure. Musicians (usually) don't make a lot of money, and depending on where you live, the result can be even worse - specially if you like some different style that's not popular on your region. So, for many of us, risking this type of life is not an option, and deep down we know this (that's just my 2 cents though).
As the repetition goes, that is really interesting. Because, Michael Jackson, for example, was a freak on that regard. He trained and rehearsed for hours and hours, and that includes dancing, singing and writing. He did it mainly because of his father at first, and this process went through his whole life. The man was a beast, and sure as hell was a perfectionist.
Another factor that I think plays a huge role is the simply love and satisfaction from playing/hearing music. And, in my experience, there's a huge gap from liking to hear songs to really love and try to understand music. The second part it's not that fun at first, and many, many people quit because it's damn hard. Everyone aspire or wants to be a "superstar", but sure as hell not a third of those people want to put in the hard work. Mainly because they simply figure it out that they don't love it as they think they did.
I also believe that talent exists. But without hard work, it won't take anyone anywhere. I studied psychology at university some years ago (didn't finished), and one of the topics that still makes me excited is the theory of multiple intelligences that Howard Gardner came up with some other scientists.
Basically, he says that some of us develop one type of cognitive area faster or better than others, and that IQ alone is not enough to "rate" or label someone (which I agree 100%). To me, that explain talent, and if we observe children we can see clearly that there's some areas that they pick up and excel really fast, while others they just don't improve much. Curiosity and motivation also plays a huge role, but for sure, talent or "gifts" exists. The only real question to me is this: do you think is god sent or scientific related? To me it doesn't matter and it's even a mixture of those two factors.
I always like to put Hendrix as an example. Everyone can play guitar, even get good at it. But to compose like Hendrix, it's pretty much impossible to get to that level. He had that "extra" that many of us won't have, even if we put our whole life into it.
Also, we always see great cover bands and guitar players or other musicians that can covers songs with extremely precision. But only a small percentage can really compose and touch somebody else. I think that's the difference that we all are trying to achieve in our music journey to some extent.
I rambled a lot on this comment, lmao. Sorry for the huge wall of text!