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#2084113 - 05/17/13 10:51 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: King Cole]
mermilylumpkin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/13
Posts: 121
People get so invested in this topic. I wonder why that is. I have a feeling that there's a deep emotional component to it.

If you disavow genetics or innate makeup or whatever as an important factor, then the implication is really that the sky is the limit. That if you put in hours and hours and hours and you work hard and care deeply, you can play at an outstanding level, skill-wise.

If you believe that people's potential is definitely bounded in by their god-given makeup, then there's a quite different set of implications and I'm puzzling to work out exactly what they would be. One would be that if you are highly successful at piano or whatever it is you do, it owes in large part to your innate gift and intelligence, which I imagine is a flattering thing to think about yourself. Another would be that if you aren't successful then maybe it doesn't matter anyway because you would not have had the natural capacity to achieve greatness if you tried. And there might be more to it that I am missing.

Anyway, I think that one of the reasons people get emotional about this, and flame each other, etc. is because there's an emotional basis behind all the scholarly stuff people come up with. For myself I subscribe vigorously to the first school of thought, and figure that if I practice really really hard and work really hard then I can achieve the skill levels I'd like over a long period of time (to say nothing of achieving a career in music or fame or fortune or glory, which I think relies on circumstance as much as skill). And I am an ambitious person so my goals are ambitious. That's what I get most mileage out of personally, but I suppose everyone's different.

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#2084151 - 05/17/13 12:24 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: King Cole]
Derulux Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5379
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
People get so invested in this topic. I wonder why that is. I have a feeling that there's a deep emotional component to it.

I think that's absolutely true. There's a psychological reason why we call them "deep-set beliefs", and a scientific explanation for why we react emotionally to them. A little pop-science here (but somewhere, there is real science to back it up): these deep-set beliefs reside farther inside our brain, and not along the outer edge of the cerebral cortex. That means they're closer to the lizard brain at the center, which is our seat of emotion. Only those who are better versed in separating emotion from thought are capable of separating the two, and even they aren't successful all the time.

For deciding whether the sky is the limit for you, I like two quotes. One, I can only paraphrase as: success is determined by the willingness to continue long after everyone else has stopped trying.

The other is the great Italian philosopher, Rocky Balboa: "It doesn't matter how hard you can hit. It matters how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. ... That's how winning's done."
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#2084155 - 05/17/13 12:37 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: Derulux]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19871
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Derulux
....success is determined by the willingness to continue long after everyone else has stopped trying....

Indeed -- provided you have the talent. grin

The trouble with adages is that for every one, there's usually also a direct opposite.

Opportunity knocks but once.
If at first you don't succeed, try try again.

He who hesitates is lost.
Look before you leap.

For the one you gave, I would suggest: Beware of hitting your head against the wall too many times. grin

Or simply, know thyself.

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#2084159 - 05/17/13 12:46 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: mermilylumpkin]
Old Man Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/12
Posts: 778
Loc: Michigan, USA
Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
People get so invested in this topic. I wonder why that is. I have a feeling that there's a deep emotional component to it.

If you disavow genetics or innate makeup or whatever as an important factor, then the implication is really that the sky is the limit. That if you put in hours and hours and hours and you work hard and care deeply, you can play at an outstanding level, skill-wise.

I think that's demonstrably false. The fact that there are examples of kids who start piano at age 5, are playing with orchestras at 10, attending conservatory at 12, etc., etc., is evidence that something innate is at play. How can one person devote a year trying to learn a difficult piece, while another learns it in a few days? There's simply no explanation for these differences that makes any sense except native talent. And, speaking personally, I don't think any of this is tied up with emotion. It's empirically evident. If my emotions were involved, I'd be desperately wishing it were NOT so evident! grin

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
If you believe that people's potential is definitely bounded in by their god-given makeup, then there's a quite different set of implications and I'm puzzling to work out exactly what they would be. One would be that if you are highly successful at piano or whatever it is you do, it owes in large part to your innate gift and intelligence, which I imagine is a flattering thing to think about yourself.

I don't think anyone would (or should) feel flattered about natural gifts because they're essentially "unearned." As I said in a previous post, my son sailed through math and science from 1st grade through college, with very little studying. But he hated receiving praise for his accomplishment, because he never felt he really "earned" it. It came as easy to him as walking, even though mom and dad struggled with these same subjects their entire lives! It just ain't fair! laugh

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#2084165 - 05/17/13 12:58 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: Old Man]
bennevis Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5548
Any teacher at any school will tell you that there are gifted pupils and, er, less gifted ones who will never become NASA or CERN scientists no matter how much effort they put in.

Choose your parents carefully if you want to become a top physicist, or mathematician, or even.....pianist/musician.
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2084172 - 05/17/13 01:23 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: Old Man]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2472
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Old Man
There's simply no explanation for these differences that makes any sense except native talent.


Except that that too makes no sense !

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#2084174 - 05/17/13 01:25 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: Derulux]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2472
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Derulux


The other is the great Italian philosopher, Rocky Balboa: "It doesn't matter how hard you can hit. It matters how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. ... That's how winning's done."


There's Philadelphia pride for you!

By the way, Rocky's gal Adrienne was played by Talia Shire, who is the sister of Francis Ford Coppola. They are both kids of Carmine Coppola, flutist, and composer. Coppola senior's brother Anton Coppola was chef d'orchestre of a certain importance, as well as a composer.


Edited by landorrano (05/17/13 01:35 PM)

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#2084178 - 05/17/13 01:37 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: bennevis]
mermilylumpkin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/13
Posts: 121
I'm a school teacher and I actually see the direct opposite. I have several "gifted" pupils who come into first grade knowing the long division algorithm, etc. etc. and who got that way not because they were born doing long division, but because they had access to a lot of privilege and opportunity. I have kids that may well have been labeled as "less gifted" in a prior time or by those with a different approach than me, that tend to end up being quite successful in my class because they don't have someone setting limits on what they're expected to be capable of. I genuinely believe that they can all be little rocket scientists, so, due to the human nature, most of them rise to the occasion.

Re: the emotional aspect of the argument - But don't you hear yourself touting your son's achievement in the fond, glowing tones of a parent? :-) There's always an emotional undercurrent present, it's just a question of choosing to acknowledge it or not.

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#2084183 - 05/17/13 01:43 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: Mark_C]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2472
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Derulux
....success is determined by the willingness to continue long after everyone else has stopped trying....

For the one you gave, I would suggest: Beware of hitting your head against the wall too many times. grin



Or in the case of the Italian philosopher: Beware of hitting your side of beef too many times!


Edited by landorrano (05/17/13 01:44 PM)

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#2084189 - 05/17/13 01:59 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: Mark_C]
Derulux Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5379
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Derulux
....success is determined by the willingness to continue long after everyone else has stopped trying....

For the one you gave, I would suggest: Beware of hitting your head against the wall too many times. grin

Have we met before? grin

Originally Posted By: Old Man
How can one person devote a year trying to learn a difficult piece, while another learns it in a few days?

I promised myself I wouldn't get sucked back in.. but alas, you think you're out... wink

We could equally cite differences in practice routine, technical facility, technique in general, the way they read the notes, the way they translate the notes, their interest level in the piece, etc etc. If we could say that all of that were equal, then I think we'd have some ground on which to discover the rest.

Quote:
I don't think anyone would (or should) feel flattered about natural gifts because they're essentially "unearned." As I said in a previous post, my son sailed through math and science from 1st grade through college, with very little studying. But he hated receiving praise for his accomplishment, because he never felt he really "earned" it. It came as easy to him as walking, even though mom and dad struggled with these same subjects their entire lives! It just ain't fair!

You hit on something that resonates in my own life -- praise. One of those things where, when I accomplish something I've wanted to accomplish, and have struggled to accomplish, and finally get there; then it is okay to say, "Good job." But if I got an "A" on a test, family members threw around the "good jobs" like candy even though I hadn't actually done anything to earn it. How can I have done a "good job" if I haven't actually done anything at all?


Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: Old Man
There's simply no explanation for these differences that makes any sense except native talent.


Except that that too makes no sense !

Love it. If there's no simple explanation, and talent is a simple explanation, then it stands to reason that talent cannot be used as an explanation for the condition. New gravy train to ride for a while... grin

And I had "Rocky" pride long before I moved to Philadelphia. But even I felt slighted when the statue was moved..

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
I'm a school teacher and I actually see the direct opposite. I have several "gifted" pupils who come into first grade knowing the long division algorithm, etc. etc. and who got that way not because they were born doing long division, but because they had access to a lot of privilege and opportunity. I have kids that may well have been labeled as "less gifted" in a prior time or by those with a different approach than me, that tend to end up being quite successful in my class because they don't have someone setting limits on what they're expected to be capable of. I genuinely believe that they can all be little rocket scientists, so, due to the human nature, most of them rise to the occasion.

Yeah, I come from an entire family of teachers (all the way down to 2nd and 3rd cousins). I don't know a good teacher who thinks their kids can't do something.

I can tell you, I walked into first grade knowing what I knew because someone taught it to me (parents). Not because it was "in my genes". If that were the case, I wish someone would program a calculator and a dictionary into my genes.. I could certainly use it. smile
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#2084259 - 05/17/13 03:38 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: Derulux]
bennevis Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5548
Originally Posted By: Derulux


I can tell you, I walked into first grade knowing what I knew because someone taught it to me (parents). Not because it was "in my genes". If that were the case, I wish someone would program a calculator and a dictionary into my genes.. I could certainly use it. smile



Albert E. certainly didn't have programmed genes in his brain that taught him that E=mc2, or the theory of relativity - he dreamt all that up because he had so much spare time while working as a patents office clerk wink . In other words, nature and nurture. But let's not kid ourselves - if he didn't have the brains for it, it wouldn't even have occurred to him that because the velocity of light is always constant, therefore everything else builds around that concept - including the realization that time couldn't be constant (no matter how much free time he had to daydream....... grin ). There are plenty of people around who cannot grasp the logic of this even today, because their brains can't understand how this works.

Yes, everyone has a potential which is rarely realized, but there is a definite limit to how far they can go, which is down to their genetic make-up.

Otherwise, everyone who practises 4-6 hours/day from the age of four under a good teacher will be world-class virtuosi. But everyone who's ever entered a music conservatory will know of students who work much harder than anyone else, yet achieve next to nothing. Read Brenda Lucas Ogdon's book 'Virtuoso" about her late husband - there's as much about her as her husband in it, in fact - and you'll appreciate the gulf between genius and mediocrity, which is entirely genetically determined.
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2084267 - 05/17/13 03:47 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: mermilylumpkin]
Old Man Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/12
Posts: 778
Loc: Michigan, USA
Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
I'm a school teacher and I actually see the direct opposite. I have several "gifted" pupils who come into first grade knowing the long division algorithm, etc. etc. and who got that way not because they were born doing long division, but because they had access to a lot of privilege and opportunity.

Well, I had 4 kids, and I was still working a minimum wage job when the 4th was on the way. We had very little, so none of my kids ever received anything special, other than the normal amount of love and encouragement that any parent would provide. And my own upbringing was even less privileged. My dad retired in 1987, and had still never made $10K in a year. So much for the "privilege and opportunity" theory. smile

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
I have kids that may well have been labeled as "less gifted" in a prior time or by those with a different approach than me, that tend to end up being quite successful in my class because they don't have someone setting limits on what they're expected to be capable of.

No one should ever set limits on what anyone is capable of. It's not for others to set limits. But the limits do exist, so each of us will discover them on our own. And until we do, I say "The sky's the limit."

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
I genuinely believe that they can all be little rocket scientists ...

Not! grin

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
Re: the emotional aspect of the argument - But don't you hear yourself touting your son's achievement in the fond, glowing tones of a parent? :-)

Now you're hitting a sore spot. smile Because I hate hearing parents brag about their kids. And I was afraid I'd come off that way, but since I needed an example of what I was talking about, firsthand knowledge seemed the best way to go. Probably a big mistake. Yes, I'm proud of my kids, but not for what they know or what they do, but because of who they are.

I've always defined successful parenting this way. Do your best to teach your kids: 1). To be self-sufficient; and 2). To have a good heart.

Then get out of the way, and leave the rest to them.


Edited by Old Man (05/17/13 03:49 PM)

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#2084317 - 05/17/13 04:58 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: bennevis]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2472
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: bennevis
There are plenty of people around who cannot grasp the logic of this even today, because their brains can't understand how this works.


That's adding a new element. Not only are some (very few, it seems) born with the nexus doni, but the rest are unequipped to even grasp the marvels that it spews. These wonders are simply impenetrable.

I'd definitely like to get those Einstein types together and interbreed them. If there aren't any female specimens, no problem, ce n'est pas grave,I'll just clone 'em. I'll create a race of super-beings, and I will conquer ...


... the (piano) world !!!!


Edited by landorrano (05/17/13 05:22 PM)

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#2084324 - 05/17/13 05:22 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: bennevis]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8935
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: bennevis

Read Brenda Lucas Ogdon's book 'Virtuoso" about her late husband ...

Would advise caution in reading that book. I have been in contact with someone (a musician and composer) who personally knew John Ogdon, and he told me that the Brenda Lucas book was very self-serving, and -from his experience- very inaccurate.

Reportedly there is a new Ogdon biography in the works (I have no further details) which should provide us with more accurate information, all of which to say that your evaluation of Ogdon's genius is not in contest.
_________________________
Jason

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#2084332 - 05/17/13 05:32 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: landorrano]
bennevis Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5548
Originally Posted By: landorrano


I'd definitely like to get those Einstein types together and interbreed them. If there aren't any female specimens, no problem, ce n'est pas grave,I'll just clone 'em. I'll create a race of super-beings, and I will conquer ...


... the (piano) world !!!!


However, don't forget that even Albert had his limits (re: Quantum theory - "God does not play with dice").......

What on earth (or space, or heaven) would he think about the current obsession with the Higgs boson? wink
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2084402 - 05/17/13 07:55 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: Old Man]
mermilylumpkin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/13
Posts: 121
Originally Posted By: Old Man
Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
I'm a school teacher and I actually see the direct opposite. I have several "gifted" pupils who come into first grade knowing the long division algorithm, etc. etc. and who got that way not because they were born doing long division, but because they had access to a lot of privilege and opportunity.

Well, I had 4 kids, and I was still working a minimum wage job when the 4th was on the way. We had very little, so none of my kids ever received anything special, other than the normal amount of love and encouragement that any parent would provide. And my own upbringing was even less privileged. My dad retired in 1987, and had still never made $10K in a year. So much for the "privilege and opportunity" theory. smile

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
I have kids that may well have been labeled as "less gifted" in a prior time or by those with a different approach than me, that tend to end up being quite successful in my class because they don't have someone setting limits on what they're expected to be capable of.

No one should ever set limits on what anyone is capable of. It's not for others to set limits. But the limits do exist, so each of us will discover them on our own. And until we do, I say "The sky's the limit."

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
I genuinely believe that they can all be little rocket scientists ...

Not! grin

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
Re: the emotional aspect of the argument - But don't you hear yourself touting your son's achievement in the fond, glowing tones of a parent? :-)

Now you're hitting a sore spot. smile Because I hate hearing parents brag about their kids. And I was afraid I'd come off that way, but since I needed an example of what I was talking about, firsthand knowledge seemed the best way to go. Probably a big mistake. Yes, I'm proud of my kids, but not for what they know or what they do, but because of who they are.


As you should be! :-) I am perfectly fine with you using your son as an example, and I have no doubt that he's successful in what he does. I was just trying to point out that I think there's a reason that people cling to their "side" of this argument so vigorously, and I think a lot of it has to do with your beliefs about efficacy and the locus of success and agency. But yeah, parents SHOULD be proud of their kids.

Here's the bottom line for me. If you look at a virtuoso performance of whatever difficult piece, learning that piece resulted from a very long set of procedures: analyzing the piece of music to determine its structure, making choices about phrasing and what voices are aesthetically pleasing to bring out, isolating passages to build the necessary technique or supplementing technique builders, etc. etc. It's a methodical process. And you can break down each of the above mentioned components into even smaller micro tasks if you wanted to. You don't wake up and suddenly "have the ability" to play it. You could argue that pianist A was able to master some scale section 10X faster than pianist B. But then, it's just as likely that you can attribute this to the fact that pianist A built the foundational skills to master it more quickly as a result of doing XYZ Hanon exercises, or making choices during the practice time to practice it in rhythms, or really whatever is the most efficient way to practice it. Learning and mastering music is the result of a series of conscious decisions, and it's not the case that certain brains are just capable of these learning processes and certain brains aren't. People don't learn piano by magic or by having a special brain organ that others don't. They care and are passionate and use their time wisely and put in the time.

It certainly doesn't guarantee fame and fortune and success -- Wasn't it here that someone recently posted the article about all of the superbly talented Juilliard grads waiting tables at age 35? But mastery can be achieved if you put in the time. The reason there are so few masters of a given craft is because very, very few people have the drive and inclination to put in the time, which is not negligible.

You show me a bad pianist that put in 4 hours per day for 20 years, and I'll show you someone who seriously embellishes the accounts of their practice time.

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#2084524 - 05/18/13 02:04 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: Old Man]
chopin_r_us Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 1011
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: Old Man

Well, I had 4 kids, and I was still working a minimum wage job when the 4th was on the way. We had very little, so none of my kids ever received anything special, other than the normal amount of love and encouragement that any parent would provide. And my own upbringing was even less privileged. My dad retired in 1987, and had still never made $10K in a year. So much for the "privilege and opportunity" theory.
We had to live in t' paper bag in t' middle o' road!

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#2084529 - 05/18/13 02:48 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: Old Man]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11850
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Old Man

I think that's demonstrably false. The fact that there are examples of kids who start piano at age 5, are playing with orchestras at 10, attending conservatory at 12, etc., etc., is evidence that something innate is at play. How can one person devote a year trying to learn a difficult piece, while another learns it in a few days? There's simply no explanation for these differences that makes any sense except native talent.

And if that child had no access to a piano? Have any of these children made it without a teacher, assuming there is at least access to a piano? With a poor teacher? With parents who believe it's frivolous and they should concentrate on math? The innate must be coupled with opportunity.

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#2084542 - 05/18/13 03:38 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: King Cole]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2472
Loc: France
Good morning. In another (unrelated) thread I noticed that a piano teacher wrote
Quote:
I only send the most talented students to Bach Regionals


I am quite certain that in France you'd be hard pressed to find a teacher who expresses himself so. One would say "I only send my most advanced students" or "my most serious students" or "my most well-prepared students".

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#2084573 - 05/18/13 05:06 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: King Cole]
drumour Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/08/05
Posts: 862
Loc: Scotland
There is one way to convinced the sceptics that talent is irrelevant and that should be fairly obvious. If you think that with the right preparation anyone could play to the standard of say Kissin, go ahead and prove it - you can have as much time as you want. (That means not just playing hard stuff, but playing it at the highest level technically and artistically.)
_________________________
Vasa inania multum strepunt.

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#2084577 - 05/18/13 05:25 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: drumour]
chopin_r_us Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 1011
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: drumour
There is one way to convinced the sceptics that talent is irrelevant and that should be fairly obvious. If you think that with the right preparation anyone could play to the standard of say Kissin, go ahead and prove it - you can have as much time as you want. (That means not just playing hard stuff, but playing it at the highest level technically and artistically.)
Wouldn't that just proved you were an undiscovered talent?

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#2084579 - 05/18/13 05:30 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: King Cole]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2472
Loc: France
There's a great movie from the 80s, a Belgian movie if I remember correctly. Le Maître de musique, the Music Teacher, "starring" none less than José Van Dam.

The teacher wagers a friend that he can take any bloke and turn him into a great singer. And he does.

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#2084581 - 05/18/13 05:38 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: mermilylumpkin]
wr Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8027
Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
Originally Posted By: Old Man
Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
I'm a school teacher and I actually see the direct opposite. I have several "gifted" pupils who come into first grade knowing the long division algorithm, etc. etc. and who got that way not because they were born doing long division, but because they had access to a lot of privilege and opportunity.

Well, I had 4 kids, and I was still working a minimum wage job when the 4th was on the way. We had very little, so none of my kids ever received anything special, other than the normal amount of love and encouragement that any parent would provide. And my own upbringing was even less privileged. My dad retired in 1987, and had still never made $10K in a year. So much for the "privilege and opportunity" theory. smile

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
I have kids that may well have been labeled as "less gifted" in a prior time or by those with a different approach than me, that tend to end up being quite successful in my class because they don't have someone setting limits on what they're expected to be capable of.

No one should ever set limits on what anyone is capable of. It's not for others to set limits. But the limits do exist, so each of us will discover them on our own. And until we do, I say "The sky's the limit."

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
I genuinely believe that they can all be little rocket scientists ...

Not! grin

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
Re: the emotional aspect of the argument - But don't you hear yourself touting your son's achievement in the fond, glowing tones of a parent? :-)

Now you're hitting a sore spot. smile Because I hate hearing parents brag about their kids. And I was afraid I'd come off that way, but since I needed an example of what I was talking about, firsthand knowledge seemed the best way to go. Probably a big mistake. Yes, I'm proud of my kids, but not for what they know or what they do, but because of who they are.


As you should be! :-) I am perfectly fine with you using your son as an example, and I have no doubt that he's successful in what he does. I was just trying to point out that I think there's a reason that people cling to their "side" of this argument so vigorously, and I think a lot of it has to do with your beliefs about efficacy and the locus of success and agency. But yeah, parents SHOULD be proud of their kids.

Here's the bottom line for me. If you look at a virtuoso performance of whatever difficult piece, learning that piece resulted from a very long set of procedures: analyzing the piece of music to determine its structure, making choices about phrasing and what voices are aesthetically pleasing to bring out, isolating passages to build the necessary technique or supplementing technique builders, etc. etc. It's a methodical process. And you can break down each of the above mentioned components into even smaller micro tasks if you wanted to. You don't wake up and suddenly "have the ability" to play it. You could argue that pianist A was able to master some scale section 10X faster than pianist B. But then, it's just as likely that you can attribute this to the fact that pianist A built the foundational skills to master it more quickly as a result of doing XYZ Hanon exercises, or making choices during the practice time to practice it in rhythms, or really whatever is the most efficient way to practice it. Learning and mastering music is the result of a series of conscious decisions, and it's not the case that certain brains are just capable of these learning processes and certain brains aren't. People don't learn piano by magic or by having a special brain organ that others don't. They care and are passionate and use their time wisely and put in the time.

It certainly doesn't guarantee fame and fortune and success -- Wasn't it here that someone recently posted the article about all of the superbly talented Juilliard grads waiting tables at age 35? But mastery can be achieved if you put in the time. The reason there are so few masters of a given craft is because very, very few people have the drive and inclination to put in the time, which is not negligible.

You show me a bad pianist that put in 4 hours per day for 20 years, and I'll show you someone who seriously embellishes the accounts of their practice time.


You are ignoring the issue about the initial learning curve, which is about how some very young kids "get it" about music and playing an instrument at what appears to be a miraculous rate, and others who have the same opportunity, don't. When the special ability of the talented ones shows up, they are really not even old enough to have put in all that time and effort that you suggest is necessary. And other kids with equal opportunity to demonstrate the same ability simply don't. And it should be emphasized that playing classical piano is one of the most complex things a person can attempt, so when some tyke turns up having mastered many aspects of it at a ridiculously young age, and no other little kid of that age within a five hundred mile radius even comes close, I think it is absurd to make the argument that that kid merely worked harder. It flies in the face of anything resembling common sense, AFAIAC.

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#2084583 - 05/18/13 05:48 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: keystring]
wr Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8027
Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: Old Man

I think that's demonstrably false. The fact that there are examples of kids who start piano at age 5, are playing with orchestras at 10, attending conservatory at 12, etc., etc., is evidence that something innate is at play. How can one person devote a year trying to learn a difficult piece, while another learns it in a few days? There's simply no explanation for these differences that makes any sense except native talent.

And if that child had no access to a piano? Have any of these children made it without a teacher, assuming there is at least access to a piano? With a poor teacher? With parents who believe it's frivolous and they should concentrate on math? The innate must be coupled with opportunity.


Obviously the opportunity has to be there - I don't think anyone in this thread has ever suggested otherwise.

It is interesting that some talented kids actually seem to shape opportunity by their demands. I've heard more than one story of small talented children turning into monsters until they get what they need to progress. It's as if it is their "calling" and they'll do whatever it takes to heed the call.

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#2084590 - 05/18/13 06:10 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: mermilylumpkin]
wr Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8027
Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
People get so invested in this topic. I wonder why that is. I have a feeling that there's a deep emotional component to it.



Well, I was identified as being talented as a kid (within a very small community, I hasten to add) and it made a huge difference in how I grew up and how my personality was formed, and consequently, it made a huge difference in later life and my whole attitude about music. So, yeah, there's some emotional content involved - it's about my life and identity.

Quote:


If you disavow genetics or innate makeup or whatever as an important factor, then the implication is really that the sky is the limit. That if you put in hours and hours and hours and you work hard and care deeply, you can play at an outstanding level, skill-wise.

If you believe that people's potential is definitely bounded in by their god-given makeup, then there's a quite different set of implications and I'm puzzling to work out exactly what they would be. One would be that if you are highly successful at piano or whatever it is you do, it owes in large part to your innate gift and intelligence, which I imagine is a flattering thing to think about yourself. Another would be that if you aren't successful then maybe it doesn't matter anyway because you would not have had the natural capacity to achieve greatness if you tried. And there might be more to it that I am missing.



Um, since I was identified as being at least somewhat talented early on, but my working life has not been spent as a professional musician, yes, I think there are some parts you are missing.

Quote:


Anyway, I think that one of the reasons people get emotional about this, and flame each other, etc. is because there's an emotional basis behind all the scholarly stuff people come up with. For myself I subscribe vigorously to the first school of thought, and figure that if I practice really really hard and work really hard then I can achieve the skill levels I'd like over a long period of time (to say nothing of achieving a career in music or fame or fortune or glory, which I think relies on circumstance as much as skill). And I am an ambitious person so my goals are ambitious. That's what I get most mileage out of personally, but I suppose everyone's different.


Some kind of emotional investment in the subject matter may be one reason people get wound up, but I think that, as often as not, it's much more about other stuff - such as perceived tone, or what appears to be bad logic, or past history. Lots of factors come into play, and one's emotional investment in the actual subject is just one of them. In my observation, it's definitely not a requirement for heated exchanges.

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#2084592 - 05/18/13 06:14 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: Derulux]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
Derulux, I have read your post, here:

People get so invested in this topic. I wonder why that is. I have a feeling that there's a deep emotional component to it.

I think that's absolutely true. There's a psychological reason why we call them "deep-set beliefs", and a scientific explanation for why we react emotionally to them. A little pop-science here (but somewhere, there is real science to back it up): these deep-set beliefs reside farther inside our brain, and not along the outer edge of the cerebral cortex. That means they're closer to the lizard brain at the center, which is our seat of emotion. Only those who are better versed in separating emotion from thought are capable of separating the two, and even they aren't successful all the time.

For deciding whether the sky is the limit for you, I like two quotes. One, I can only paraphrase as: success is determined by the willingness to continue long after everyone else has stopped trying.

The other is the great Italian philosopher, Rocky Balboa: "It doesn't matter how hard you can hit. It matters how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. ... That's how winning's done."

_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

________________________________________________

Nice quote: success is determined by the willingness to continue long after everyone else has stopped trying

It reminds me when I went to a film festival. I was in line for a film and the staff came out and said the film is sold out so go to your local theatre when it returns. Everybody left the line. A person came out and said did you hear the announcement and I said, yes, but I only need one seat. Later they came out again and said we have 3 seats and I said I only need one seat and I was the only one in line - everybody else left.

Another time I was in line at a jazz festival, I got to the venue and got in line and somebody came out and said there is only standing room available. Everybody left the line up and I stayed. A woman said to me are you staying and I said. Of course, I can sit for the rest of my life but I am certainly going to stand for this event. She said is that your attitude about things, I said yes.

Being dyslexic and having learning difficulties means I am always close to failure but never give up and eventually learn enough to keep going.

Nicely said: The other is the great Italian philosopher, Rocky Balboa: "It doesn't matter how hard you can hit. It matters how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. ... That's how winning's done."

I put it this way: Let the enemy think they are winning and they will only fight/work half as hard.

or

If you care, I care - if you don't care - I still care.

Particularly with music/arts, there is talent, opportunity, money, being educated, being-bright, drive.

It is those with drive that probably do the best because they never give up and success is always just around the corner and - giving up means never reaching success.



Edited by Michael_99 (05/18/13 06:22 AM)

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#2084595 - 05/18/13 06:42 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: Old Man]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
Old Man, I have read your post, here:

People get so invested in this topic. I wonder why that is. I have a feeling that there's a deep emotional component to it.

If you disavow genetics or innate makeup or whatever as an important factor, then the implication is really that the sky is the limit. That if you put in hours and hours and hours and you work hard and care deeply, you can play at an outstanding level, skill-wise.

I think that's demonstrably false. The fact that there are examples of kids who start piano at age 5, are playing with orchestras at 10, attending conservatory at 12, etc., etc., is evidence that something innate is at play. How can one person devote a year trying to learn a difficult piece, while another learns it in a few days? There's simply no explanation for these differences that makes any sense except native talent. And, speaking personally, I don't think any of this is tied up with emotion. It's empirically evident. If my emotions were involved, I'd be desperately wishing it were NOT so evident! grin

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
If you believe that people's potential is definitely bounded in by their god-given makeup, then there's a quite different set of implications and I'm puzzling to work out exactly what they would be. One would be that if you are highly successful at piano or whatever it is you do, it owes in large part to your innate gift and intelligence, which I imagine is a flattering thing to think about yourself.

I don't think anyone would (or should) feel flattered about natural gifts because they're essentially "unearned." As I said in a previous post, my son sailed through math and science from 1st grade through college, with very little studying. But he hated receiving praise for his accomplishment, because he never felt he really "earned" it. It came as easy to him as walking, even though mom and dad struggled with these same subjects their entire lives! It just ain't fair! laugh



_________________________________________

Not so quick: --> How can one person devote a year trying to learn a difficult piece, while another learns it in a few days? There's simply no explanation for these differences that makes any sense except native talent.

Firstly, the person that took a year may never have followed the instructor's advice and only spent a year working hard doing it their way.

There is a small measure of very bright people who don't succeed because they for whatever reason don't follow their's teacher's advice and ultimately end up quitting when they were very capable to reaching success or completion .



Secondly, if one of your parents were an excellent cook and you never cooked in you life, you could probably be an excellent cook if you did so because of what you saw and heard during your life. Far back is history, some famous musicians grew up in a family of musicians. There is no doubt that being around the environment fills your brain with lots of useful information that you store in your brain and use it when needed. It is that little extra edge that makes a difference. Like all of kids in a family - some kids go outside and play and other kids in the family retain the experiences they are exposed to such as running a family business, or other activities like sports or art/music, etc. Talent is useless if there is no drive to harness the talent.


Edited by Michael_99 (05/18/13 06:58 AM)

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#2084598 - 05/18/13 07:12 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: mermilylumpkin]
wr Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8027
Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
I'm a school teacher and I actually see the direct opposite. I have several "gifted" pupils who come into first grade knowing the long division algorithm, etc. etc. and who got that way not because they were born doing long division, but because they had access to a lot of privilege and opportunity. I have kids that may well have been labeled as "less gifted" in a prior time or by those with a different approach than me, that tend to end up being quite successful in my class because they don't have someone setting limits on what they're expected to be capable of. I genuinely believe that they can all be little rocket scientists, so, due to the human nature, most of them rise to the occasion.



I am guessing that what you teach in your class isn't the playing of advanced classical piano music. If it were, I think you'd quickly see the difference between gifted and not gifted, regardless of background.

But, since you brought it up - I was a "gifted" student in general, not just in playing piano. Without going into details of my personal history, I'll just tell you that I was far from privileged, and that my parents and family didn't place much value on the kind of "book learning" in which I excelled. I can't think of a single instance in which anyone in my family encouraged me in my schoolwork. At all. Ever.

But even without much support at home, I generally did better than my most of my classmates, and I had no particular advantage in terms of "privilege". In fact, by the time I graduated from high school, I'd say there were a number of more "privileged" kids who didn't do as well.

So, based on my own experience, I think you may be misinterpreting what you are seeing. I think it is well-established that most students respond to expectations, both in their homes and at school. And the interplay between those environments can be very complicated. I think it is also pretty well established that some kids from under-privileged environments can blossom remarkably in the right circumstances, and do just as well as the average, or even better. And there is, after all, a certain boost that occurs when a kid realizes that some limits may not be as real as they once thought.

But I don't think all that really touches on the kids whose gifts don't seem so dependent on environment, other than there is some sort of outlet in which the talent can be expressed. And there are plenty of those kids.

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#2084599 - 05/18/13 07:17 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: Michael_99]
wr Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8027
Originally Posted By: Michael_99
Talent is useless if there is no drive to harness the talent.


That's true, but it's a different issue than whether talent even exists.

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#2084608 - 05/18/13 07:58 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: Michael_99]
chopin_r_us Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 1011
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: Michael_99
And, speaking personally, I don't think any of this is tied up with emotion. It's empirically evident. If my emotions were involved, I'd be desperately wishing it were NOT so evident! grin
There I think you're wrong. For the vast majority the need to succeed is Oedipal (though you can call that an instinct, it's felt as an emotion deeply below consciousness).

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