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#2084635 - 05/18/13 09:40 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: wr]
Old Man Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/12
Posts: 778
Loc: Michigan, USA
Originally Posted By: wr

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.

wr, you're wasting your breath. I've repeatedly used the "initial learning curve" argument (i.e. the existence of prodigies) throughout this discussion, but to no avail. Not only does it never get addressed, it probably never will, because it truly is the coup de grace to the "environmental" argument. If a kid starts lessons at 5 and is playing piano concertos at 8 or 9, there is no combination of parents, practice, piano, pedagogy or perseverance that can produce this result. As you say, there is simply not enough time. And if there were such a magic combination, there would be hundreds of book on the subject, parents throughout the world would clamor for it, piano sales would skyrocket, and billionaires would be made.

Sorry, you can work your fanny off for 50 years, but you cannot simply "choose" to be the next Perahia or Argerich.

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#2084636 - 05/18/13 09:42 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: chopin_r_us]
Old Man Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/12
Posts: 778
Loc: Michigan, USA
Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
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!

ha Touche! OK, no more "personal" crap from me.

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#2084666 - 05/18/13 10:29 AM 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
I've repeatedly used the "initial learning curve" argument (i.e. the existence of prodigies) throughout this discussion, but to no avail. Not only does it never get addressed, it probably never will, because it truly is the coup de grace to the "environmental" argument.


Thems fighten' words! Seriously, though, you can't then use as hypothetical example
Originally Posted By: Old Man
If a kid starts lessons at 5 and is playing piano concertos at 8 or 9, there is no combination of parents, practice, piano, pedagogy or perseverance that can produce this result. As you say, there is simply not enough time.
... unless you can show a kid born at 5 years old.

And yes, there is enough time. An enormous development goes on in 5 years, so much is determined.

What's more, you're really talking about 5 years and 9 months.

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#2084673 - 05/18/13 10:50 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: Old Man]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2472
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: wr
I think it is absurd to make the argument that that kid merely worked harder.


I'd just like to repeat that for my part I do not believe that "mere hard work" is the key to brillance.

But when you've got a Kissin (early on in the thread, 6 months ago???!!!) whose mother and big sister played Bach fugues on their piano, then what appears absurd to me is to think that the interesting factor is some freaky inborn gift and not the rich culture transmitted to him. The overwhelming majority of extraordinary classical musicians have backrounds more or less similar to Kissin's.

It is the indifference expressed in this thread to this aspect of the question which to me flies in the face of rational thought.


Edited by landorrano (05/18/13 10:59 AM)

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#2084681 - 05/18/13 11:10 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: wr]
mermilylumpkin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/13
Posts: 121
Originally Posted By: wr
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.






People dislike taking innate ability out of the argument because it stands counter to a lot of long held beliefs, and as I said earlier, ideological positions and sensitivities about why one may or may not have "made it". To me, the reason why certain kids show amazing talent at an early age is because certain kids have an uncanny and uncommon interest and curiosity and obsession with music that results in them pursuing it with a fervor that typical kids do not. To me it's no wonder that kids who would have an overpowering interest in music would do great things early. But intelligence doesn't necessarily factor in at all, and needn't.

The person below mentioned me not really having enough credibility with musical intelligence because I am a school teacher and not a virtuoso piano-student teacher. That point is well and good. But the reality is, I do see, intimately, the ways that natural ability in some form or another impacts children, because I teach them to read, frequently from square one. And my "empirical evidence" here has led up to my belief that circumstance, drive and access are the major factors for succeeding at learning a given task and learning it with mastery.

Hard work obviously isn't the ignition by which precocious young children learn things, because little children don't tend to "slave away" at any given task they don't particularly want to do. I would argue that overwhelming interest and obsession is the driving factor in these cases. Child prodigies don't tend to share a common IQ level, which varies from one to another, but do tend to have shared an absolute fascination with music as children. (See: Asperger's cases mentioned earlier. In regards to the "wasting your breath comment" above, actually your own point has been addressed and equally, I don't see there to have been a strong counter-argument to tihs.)


To clarify, I am not arguing that you can pick a guy off the street and "turn" him into a Martha Argerich. If the fellow has no inclination or interest in the piano, then it is as well as hopeless. What I am arguing is that someone with singular drive and fortuitous circumstances and a dogged work ethic can become a virtuoso pianist (if perhaps an undiscovered virtuoso pianist.) I think perhaps we can stop listing ages of child prodigy debuts. We all agree child prodigies exist, and debuted amazingly early, etc. The question that we're differing on is whence the prodigy-ness.

Anyway, to all those who thinks the talent = time/work argument runs counter to common sense and all established science, there's a sizable body of research backing up the above hypothesis. There's a book called the Talent Code by Daniel Coyle that summarizes some neuroscience research, and there's Eriksson's research, etc. etc. I'm sure you can find plenty of articles from the other side too that talent is genetic and heritable. I just want to mention it as a point to consider for all those who are making this out like it's coming from way out in left field and too unspeakably absurd to consider.

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#2084683 - 05/18/13 11:12 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: wr]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11803
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: keystring
[quote=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. ....

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.
Originally Posted By: wr

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


There is a certain amount of polarity with an either-or. The part that I quoted has kids playing in an orchestra at 10, etc. as proof of talent. Those same kids might have had a very stringent and possibly narrow education, they might have a careful education together with innate ability, but the kid without opportunity or limited opportunity is left out. A lot of the debate here comes across as either/or. Either there is talent and it all comes together almost by itself, or it's all training and talent or innate ability doesn't exist.

This thread was began by an older student who asks about learning to play very well, and unfortunately uses the problem-fraught "virtuoso". The talent issue isn't completely a red herring, because a teacher has to have something to work with - I don't accept the tabula rasa idea - but the part that probably matters immensely is the training part. Skills, technique, strategy - without destroying the innate if it exists.

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#2084686 - 05/18/13 11:14 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: landorrano]
Old Man Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/12
Posts: 778
Loc: Michigan, USA
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: Old Man
I've repeatedly used the "initial learning curve" argument (i.e. the existence of prodigies) throughout this discussion, but to no avail. Not only does it never get addressed, it probably never will, because it truly is the coup de grace to the "environmental" argument.


Thems fighten' words! Seriously, though, you can't then use as hypothetical example

ha OK, put up your dukes!

But seriously, the "hypothetical" is not hypothetical. I'll spare you from digging back through this ginormous thread, and repeat the short list I described earlier.

Martha Argerich - Age 4. Orchestral debut at age 8
Claudio Arrau - Age 5. Could read notes before letters.
Daniel Barenboim - Age 7.
Glenn Gould - Age 4. Passed conservatory final exam with highest marks ever at age 12. Attained "professional standing as a pianist".
Horacio Gutierrez - Orchestral debut at age 11.
Helen Huang - Debuted with Philadelphia Orchestra at age 8.

And there are many more of these "hypotheticals".

And I do agree with your statement that "an enormous development goes on in 5 years", but I don't agree that it will produce a prodigy. It will enhance a prodigy, but not create one. I myself (Oops, look away chopin_r_us! I lied. grin ) was immersed in classical music from the womb onward. My father was a church organist, he taught me to read music, we always had a piano, yada, yada. Yet here I am at 63, still struggling with "Der Dichter Spricht." laugh

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#2084700 - 05/18/13 11:27 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: chopin_r_us]
Damon Online   happy
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6223
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
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!


You had a paper bag!? We were raised in a lake!
_________________________
It's been scientifically proven that Horowitz sucks.

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#2084703 - 05/18/13 11:28 AM 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


Martha Argerich - Age 4. Orchestral debut at age 8
Claudio Arrau - Age 5. Could read notes before letters.
Daniel Barenboim - Age 7.
Glenn Gould - Age 4. Passed conservatory final exam with highest marks ever at age 12. Attained "professional standing as a pianist".
Horacio Gutierrez - Orchestral debut at age 11.
Helen Huang - Debuted with Philadelphia Orchestra at age 8.


Sure, I remember that post, and I remember my response: they all had very important cultural and musical backrounds.

And it seems that Glenn Gould's mother had decided that he would become Glenn Gould before he was born, maybe even before she layeth with Mr Gould Sr! Sounds like she had the formula, too bad she didn't write a "how to" book ... unless she made a Faustian pact with the devil.


Originally Posted By: Old Man
I myself (Oops, look away chopin_r_us! I lied. grin ) was immersed in classical music from the womb onward. My father was a church organist, he taught me to read music, we always had a piano, yada, yada. Yet here I am at 63, still struggling with "Der Dichter Spricht." laugh


Fery interestink. Please lay on the couch, and relax, Mr Man. Now, tell me about your father! smile

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#2084717 - 05/18/13 12:00 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: Damon]
chopin_r_us Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 969
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
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!


You had a paper bag!? We were raised in a lake!
'and full of 'ot gravel for breakfast I suppose?

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#2084727 - 05/18/13 12:16 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: chopin_r_us]
Damon Online   happy
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6223
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
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!


You had a paper bag!? We were raised in a lake!
'and full of 'ot gravel for breakfast I suppose?


_________________________
It's been scientifically proven that Horowitz sucks.

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#2084895 - 05/18/13 07:45 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: mermilylumpkin]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7976
Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin

People dislike taking innate ability out of the argument because it stands counter to a lot of long held beliefs, and as I said earlier, ideological positions and sensitivities about why one may or may not have "made it".


The reasons you give would seem to apply equally to your position.

At any rate, hypothetically speaking, I don't think it would make a huge emotional difference to me if it were somehow proved that all musical talent was actually purely environmental. What matters to me emotionally is not the source of the phenomenon, but the effect on my life. Although I think the subject is quite interesting, I don't actually care much in an emotional sense about the reasons I learned to read music at five years old, or that I was begging for piano lessons at that age until I got them. What I really care about is just the fact that it happened, for whatever reason, and that I was seen as unusual in the environment in which I was raised.

Quote:


To me, the reason why certain kids show amazing talent at an early age is because certain kids have an uncanny and uncommon interest and curiosity and obsession with music that results in them pursuing it with a fervor that typical kids do not. To me it's no wonder that kids who would have an overpowering interest in music would do great things early. But intelligence doesn't necessarily factor in at all, and needn't.



To me, that obsession with music in a child is direct evidence of talent. It may even be talent itself, for all practical purposes. I don't know where you think that comes from, if not from talent.

Quote:


The person below mentioned me not really having enough credibility with musical intelligence because I am a school teacher and not a virtuoso piano-student teacher. That point is well and good. But the reality is, I do see, intimately, the ways that natural ability in some form or another impacts children, because I teach them to read, frequently from square one. And my "empirical evidence" here has led up to my belief that circumstance, drive and access are the major factors for succeeding at learning a given task and learning it with mastery.

Hard work obviously isn't the ignition by which precocious young children learn things, because little children don't tend to "slave away" at any given task they don't particularly want to do. I would argue that overwhelming interest and obsession is the driving factor in these cases. Child prodigies don't tend to share a common IQ level, which varies from one to another, but do tend to have shared an absolute fascination with music as children. (See: Asperger's cases mentioned earlier. In regards to the "wasting your breath comment" above, actually your own point has been addressed and equally, I don't see there to have been a strong counter-argument to tihs.)


To clarify, I am not arguing that you can pick a guy off the street and "turn" him into a Martha Argerich. If the fellow has no inclination or interest in the piano, then it is as well as hopeless. What I am arguing is that someone with singular drive and fortuitous circumstances and a dogged work ethic can become a virtuoso pianist (if perhaps an undiscovered virtuoso pianist.) I think perhaps we can stop listing ages of child prodigy debuts. We all agree child prodigies exist, and debuted amazingly early, etc. The question that we're differing on is whence the prodigy-ness.

Anyway, to all those who thinks the talent = time/work argument runs counter to common sense and all established science, there's a sizable body of research backing up the above hypothesis. There's a book called the Talent Code by Daniel Coyle that summarizes some neuroscience research, and there's Eriksson's research, etc. etc. I'm sure you can find plenty of articles from the other side too that talent is genetic and heritable. I just want to mention it as a point to consider for all those who are making this out like it's coming from way out in left field and too unspeakably absurd to consider.


There seems to be an entire cottage industry of popular writing that has developed around the debunking of the concept of talent, with a sprinkling of scientific references thrown in as "authority". Clearly, many people really like the idea that anybody can turn into a Beethoven or Michelangelo if they only try hard enough. However, it's not at all clear that the scientific community is quite so sanguine on the subject.

From what I can tell, Ericsson isn't talking about talent, but about acquiring expertise, which is somewhat different (and, as I mentioned earlier in the thread, he felt the need to distance his work from Gladwell's popularized version of it). There's no doubt that highly focused practice over time will produce results in most people. There's no doubt that many people also have the capability of doing much more than they actually attempt.

But that doesn't disprove that some kind of innate ability exists in some people. Nor does it prove that anybody can do anything. In fact, I have yet to see any proof that we are all born as blank slates with equal potential for doing anything we set our minds to do. It seems to me that the Finnish study of inherited musical traits (here's that link again, in case it was missed the first time I gave it - http://jmg.bmj.com/content/45/7/451.full ) pretty much establishes that there is a genetic component to some musical aptitude. They have, after all, identified its location in the genome.

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#2084913 - 05/18/13 08:11 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: mermilylumpkin]
Damon Online   happy
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6223
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
To me, the reason why certain kids show amazing talent at an early age is because certain kids have an uncanny and uncommon interest and curiosity and obsession with music that results in them pursuing it with a fervor that typical kids do not.


It could be that you have just defined talent. The later a child displays an interest, the less talented they become. Or not.
_________________________
It's been scientifically proven that Horowitz sucks.

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#2084923 - 05/18/13 08:32 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: Damon]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5419
The obvious way to see genes - and 'gifted' genes - in action is to observe monozygotic twins who were separated at birth and raised under totally different conditions, and even in different countries, under different cultural and/or social conditions.

The concordance between their eventual outcomes in terms of how they end up as adults - educational standard, occupation, social standing, income etc within their community etc - is quite uncanny. As are their IQs, their preferences in music, their hobbies.....
_________________________
"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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#2085041 - 05/19/13 03:48 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: wr]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2472
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: wr
Clearly, many people really like the idea that anybody can turn into a Beethoven or Michelangelo if they only try hard enough.


Good morning. Just to be clear, I think that nobody in this thread is expressing that idea.

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#2085054 - 05/19/13 05:20 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: landorrano]
chopin_r_us Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 969
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: wr
Clearly, many people really like the idea that anybody can turn into a Beethoven or Michelangelo if they only try hard enough.


Good morning. Just to be clear, I think that nobody in this thread is expressing that idea.
Are we sure? Both were classed as virtuosi in their day. If we factor out their creations...

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#2085073 - 05/19/13 06:25 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: King Cole]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2472
Loc: France
"If there is some good in me, it is because I was born in the subtle atmosphere of your country of Arezzo. Along with the milk of my nurse I received the knack of handling chisel and hammer, with which I make my figures."

Diventato un artista famoso, Michelangelo, spiegando perché preferiva la scultura alle altre arti, ricordava proprio questo affidamento, sostenendo di provenire da un paese di “scultori e scalpellini”, dove dalla balia aveva bevuto «latte impastato con la polvere di marmo»


Edited by landorrano (05/19/13 06:26 AM)

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#2085078 - 05/19/13 06:37 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: landorrano]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5419
Originally Posted By: landorrano
"If there is some good in me, it is because I was born in the subtle atmosphere of your country of Arezzo. Along with the milk of my nurse I received the knack of handling chisel and hammer, with which I make my figures."

Diventato un artista famoso, Michelangelo, spiegando perché preferiva la scultura alle altre arti, ricordava proprio questo affidamento, sostenendo di provenire da un paese di “scultori e scalpellini”, dove dalla balia aveva bevuto «latte impastato con la polvere di marmo»


We all know that there are potentially several great piano virtuosi among black Africans (there are, and have been, a few white South Africans already, of course), maybe even among the jungle dwellers in deepest Congo. But without the opportunity, their talent will never manifest.

How many Chinese virtuosi did we know before China opened up? How many are there now, and how many potential ones are there in the music schools in USA?

No, life isn't fair - not just in where you are born, and how you were brought up, but also in the genes you've been given.
_________________________
"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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#2085079 - 05/19/13 06:42 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: landorrano]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7976
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: wr
Clearly, many people really like the idea that anybody can turn into a Beethoven or Michelangelo if they only try hard enough.


Just to be clear, I think that nobody in this thread is expressing that idea.


I was talking about the people buying the books that say that talent is nothing more than concentrated practice over time, and for effect I was exaggerating the idea that I think they find attractive (but only a little).

If everybody's the same at birth and talent doesn't exist, which is how I understand the anti-talent position, then we all are fundamentally equal to Beethoven or Michelangelo. Only environmental variables account for their achievements, and therefore it's only our bad luck in life and/or laziness that keeps us from operating at their level. Am I misunderstanding something there?

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#2085080 - 05/19/13 06:46 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: wr]
JoelW Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4890
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: wr
Clearly, many people really like the idea that anybody can turn into a Beethoven or Michelangelo if they only try hard enough.


Just to be clear, I think that nobody in this thread is expressing that idea.


I was talking about the people buying the books that say that talent is nothing more than concentrated practice over time, and for effect I was exaggerating the idea that I think they find attractive (but only a little).

If everybody's the same at birth and talent doesn't exist, which is how I understand the anti-talent position, then we all are fundamentally equal to Beethoven or Michelangelo. Only environmental variables account for their achievements, and therefore it's only our bad luck in life and/or laziness that keeps us from operating at their level. Am I misunderstanding something there?




I can't stand whenever I see people saying "hard-earned talent". I want to smack them.

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#2085112 - 05/19/13 08:29 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: wr]
chopin_r_us Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 969
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: wr
Only environmental variables account for their achievements, and therefore it's only our bad luck in life and/or laziness that keeps us from operating at their level. Am I misunderstanding something there?
What about those-who-will-not-see? Is that a lack of talent or a lack of nurture? I see them all over the place.

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#2085178 - 05/19/13 12:07 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: wr]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

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

If everybody's the same at birth and talent doesn't exist, which is how I understand the anti-talent position, then we all are fundamentally equal to Beethoven or Michelangelo. Only environmental variables account for their achievements, and therefore it's only our bad luck in life and/or laziness that keeps us from operating at their level. Am I misunderstanding something there?




I am not going to answer this question simply, directly and completely, because if I did everyone would swing over to my position and that would be such a bore!

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#2085198 - 05/19/13 12:55 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: wr]
sophial Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/05
Posts: 3485
Loc: US
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: wr
Clearly, many people really like the idea that anybody can turn into a Beethoven or Michelangelo if they only try hard enough.


Just to be clear, I think that nobody in this thread is expressing that idea.


I was talking about the people buying the books that say that talent is nothing more than concentrated practice over time, and for effect I was exaggerating the idea that I think they find attractive (but only a little).

If everybody's the same at birth and talent doesn't exist, which is how I understand the anti-talent position, then we all are fundamentally equal to Beethoven or Michelangelo. Only environmental variables account for their achievements, and therefore it's only our bad luck in life and/or laziness that keeps us from operating at their level. Am I misunderstanding something there?



I think that is exactly what is being argued by the proponents of the position that talent is non-existent.

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#2085346 - 05/19/13 05:25 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: bennevis]
Derulux Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5347
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: bennevis
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 believe it's one of those things where we can't explain it yet, so we pick this "unknown thing" that "changes constantly" and "can't be observed" or it becomes "one thing and not the other". Actually, I think it's very similar to the "talent" debate that raged for about a month in here.. smile

I don't believe in "random". From where I sit, what is "random" is simply "not understood yet". But, at the same time, the "randomizing" device allows us to push the theory forward, which may eventually afford us a look backwards to see what the thing was that we couldn't picture from the other side. So, in that respect, it serves a function for science and I can't call it completely useless. wink


Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
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.

And/or someone who didn't understand what they were doing, or how they were doing it. (Have to account for people who actually do put in the time, but have no idea what to do with the time they put in.) wink

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.)

It will not accomplish this, and for one very obvious reason. Anyone who can play at Kissin's level supposedly has this "talent gene", so we would first have to find somebody who doesn't have this gene, and then get them to do it. But then, if they did it, they would have that "gene" anyway. Why? Because the only measure of "talent" is "ability", and one who has that "ability" has the "talent". So, once you have the "ability", you obviously had the "talent" all along.. wink

Originally Posted By: wr
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.

When a child shows up in Kindergarten and can already read, write, spell their name, perform basic math, draw stick figures, and understands very rudimentary history and geography, they must obviously be more "talented" than every other kid in that class. OR they were taught the information prior to showing up in kindergarten.

If the latter is the case, the volume of informational advantage disappears rapidly over the course of study. However, what doesn't disappear is the advanced ability of that child to both understand how to learn, and to have the desire to do it. That is what will separate that child from other children as they progress through school. It's not the head start in "information" -- it's the head start in "process" and "desire" (not to perform, but to work the previously mentioned process -- that part is critical).

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

Yeah, that's out. We all agreed on this one. Ironically, the agreement led to a furthered disagreement.. wink

Quote:
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.

As was I, but I still believe they're using the wrong ideas, and that is perpetuating failures -- both for the "talent-handicapped" and the "talented".

I would like to say much more about the IEP process for gifted and talented children, but that's getting into sensitive areas where I'm not sure certain individuals would like to have their information/involvement disclosed by me. So, regrettably, I must remain out of this part of the conversation.

Originally Posted By: Old Man
Sorry, you can work your fanny off for 50 years, but you cannot simply "choose" to be the next Perahia or Argerich.

Point of clarification (as much for me as for anyone else): we are discussing the "ability" side of things and not the "fame" side of things, correct? To be the next Argerich or Perahia, in terms of "name/recognition", requires a certain amount of the decisions to be made by others.

Quote:
And I do agree with your statement that "an enormous development goes on in 5 years", but I don't agree that it will produce a prodigy. It will enhance a prodigy, but not create one. I myself (Oops, look away chopin_r_us! I lied. grin ) was immersed in classical music from the womb onward. My father was a church organist, he taught me to read music, we always had a piano, yada, yada. Yet here I am at 63, still struggling with "Der Dichter Spricht." laugh

I might suggest that, perhaps you loved the music as much as anyone, but not the process of practicing the piano (or the process of fixing process-related mistakes)? Obviously, this is speculation, but it would bear merit to investigate. I can tell you that, for the most part, I hate the process of trying to correct stupid technique errors I made for too many years. But, if I hadn't made those mistakes in the first place, who knows where I'd be right now... (this had as much to do with my teacher as with my failing understanding of piano technique at a young age).

Originally Posted By: Damon
You had a paper bag!? We were raised in a lake!

You had water???

Originally Posted By: landoranno
Fery interestink. Please lay on the couch, and relax, Mr Man. Now, tell me about your father!

I believe, sir, that it is, "Fashca."


Edited by Derulux (05/19/13 06:28 PM)
_________________________
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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#2085618 - 05/20/13 08:00 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: Derulux]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7976
Originally Posted By: Derulux

Originally Posted By: wr
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.

When a child shows up in Kindergarten and can already read, write, spell their name, perform basic math, draw stick figures, and understands very rudimentary history and geography, they must obviously be more "talented" than every other kid in that class. OR they were taught the information prior to showing up in kindergarten.

If the latter is the case, the volume of informational advantage disappears rapidly over the course of study. However, what doesn't disappear is the advanced ability of that child to both understand how to learn, and to have the desire to do it. That is what will separate that child from other children as they progress through school. It's not the head start in "information" -- it's the head start in "process" and "desire" (not to perform, but to work the previously mentioned process -- that part is critical).



I was not talking about all sorts of stuff other than playing the piano. Nor was I talking about an either/or situation about "talent" vs. "being taught basic math at an early age". As far as I know, it's not possible to create fake musical talent in a child by teaching them to do what the talented kid does. They either spontaneously demonstrate it or they don't. Since playing the piano involves a very complex physical skill coupled with some advanced mental processing, it is not comparable to kids who have been taught how to do the kinds of stuff you list.

Quote:



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

Yeah, that's out. We all agreed on this one. Ironically, the agreement led to a furthered disagreement.. wink

Quote:
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.

As was I, but I still believe they're using the wrong ideas, and that is perpetuating failures -- both for the "talent-handicapped" and the "talented".



I didn't realize that you see yourself as a failure. I never would have guessed.

Quote:


I would like to say much more about the IEP process for gifted and talented children, but that's getting into sensitive areas where I'm not sure certain individuals would like to have their information/involvement disclosed by me. So, regrettably, I must remain out of this part of the conversation.



Huh? That's rather bizarre. Why would you need to disclose anything about any "certain individuals"?

Whatever you may be thinking about, in my case, there wasn't any IEP process. Yes, they did various tests, but nothing came of it - the school district wasn't big enough or rich enough to do anything that fancy.

Quote:


Originally Posted By: Old Man
Sorry, you can work your fanny off for 50 years, but you cannot simply "choose" to be the next Perahia or Argerich.

Point of clarification (as much for me as for anyone else): we are discussing the "ability" side of things and not the "fame" side of things, correct? To be the next Argerich or Perahia, in terms of "name/recognition", requires a certain amount of the decisions to be made by others.



So, you think that Argerich and Perahia don't have ability? AFAIK, their ability is how they got the name recognition.

Regardless of how the fame mechanism works, I can't think of many highly respected classical musicians who have any serious lack of ability. So, IMO, there's no good reason to avoid pointing to them as examples in the way that Old Man did (which was easily comprehensible - I can't imagine why you would feel the need to stumble over it).

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#2085650 - 05/20/13 09:25 AM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: Derulux]
Old Man Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/12
Posts: 778
Loc: Michigan, USA
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: Old Man
Sorry, you can work your fanny off for 50 years, but you cannot simply "choose" to be the next Perahia or Argerich.

Point of clarification (as much for me as for anyone else): we are discussing the "ability" side of things and not the "fame" side of things, correct? To be the next Argerich or Perahia, in terms of "name/recognition", requires a certain amount of the decisions to be made by others.

Indeed we are "discussing the 'ability' side of things and not the 'fame' side of things", so why did you introduce this completely extraneous factor? C'mon, Derulux, you knew I was using these names as examples of "ability" and not "fame".

OK, let me rephrase it for you. You cannot simply "choose" to be an unknown pianist whose talents are equal to, or greater than those of someone like Argerich or Perahia. I hope this clumsier construction "clarifies" the issue for you. grin

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: Old Man
I myself (Oops, look away chopin_r_us! I lied. grin ) was immersed in classical music from the womb onward. My father was a church organist, he taught me to read music, we always had a piano, yada, yada. Yet here I am at 63, still struggling with "Der Dichter Spricht." laugh

I might suggest that, perhaps you loved the music as much as anyone, but not the process of practicing the piano (or the process of fixing process-related mistakes)? Obviously, this is speculation, but it would bear merit to investigate.

There's no need to speculate. I freely admit that I'm not a model of discipline in many areas of my life, including piano. And I have no doubt that I would be a better piano player had I spent six hours a day practicing. Hard work and practice will always help anyone improve at just about anything.

But what is the marginal cost? Without the innate musical ability to sight read a new piece and progress at a reasonably rapid pace, the cost is quite high. Should I spend 12, 14, 16 hours a day practicing the 1st movement of the Beethoven F Minor (No. 1) sonata (one of my assigned pieces at age 19)? And after I've done this for a few months, only to produce an improved, yet still mediocre performance, what have I achieved? Why would I expend so much of my time to yield so little? However, to a naturally gifted pianist, learning the entire sonata would be child's play.

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#2085768 - 05/20/13 01:26 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: King Cole]
Derulux Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5347
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: wr
I was not talking about all sorts of stuff other than playing the piano. ... Since playing the piano involves a very complex physical skill coupled with some advanced mental processing, it is not comparable to kids who have been taught how to do the kinds of stuff you list.

It always amazes me that people seem to think that learning one thing is different than learning another thing. Is the one thing more difficult than another thing? Quite possibly. Is the process of learning how to learn that thing any different? Not in my experience.

Quote:
I didn't realize that you see yourself as a failure. I never would have guessed.

I am full of surprises. smile

Quote:
Huh? That's rather bizarre. Why would you need to disclose anything about any "certain individuals"?

I was going to send you a PM about this, but it says you're not accepting them? (7 years in here, and I didn't even know you could do that.. haha)

Quote:
So, you think that Argerich and Perahia don't have ability?

Not at all. I said what I meant -- in the case of those two, we have both ability and fame, and we need to know which we're going to be discussing. If "fame" is a measure of "talent", then I am all kinds of backwards and confused about the definition of fame. After all, Honey Boo-Boo is famous. wink

Originally Posted By: Old Man
Indeed we are "discussing the 'ability' side of things and not the 'fame' side of things", so why did you introduce this completely extraneous factor? C'mon, Derulux, you knew I was using these names as examples of "ability" and not "fame".

OK, let me rephrase it for you. You cannot simply "choose" to be an unknown pianist whose talents are equal to, or greater than those of someone like Argerich or Perahia. I hope this clumsier construction "clarifies" the issue for you.

Why not? If you choose not to perform in public, then you'll certainly be an unknown. Or did I misunderstand?

Originally Posted By: Old Man
There's no need to speculate. I freely admit that I'm not a model of discipline in many areas of my life, including piano. And I have no doubt that I would be a better piano player had I spent six hours a day practicing. Hard work and practice will always help anyone improve at just about anything.

But what is the marginal cost? Without the innate musical ability to sight read a new piece and progress at a reasonably rapid pace, the cost is quite high. Should I spend 12, 14, 16 hours a day practicing the 1st movement of the Beethoven F Minor (No. 1) sonata (one of my assigned pieces at age 19)? And after I've done this for a few months, only to produce an improved, yet still mediocre performance, what have I achieved? Why would I expend so much of my time to yield so little? However, to a naturally gifted pianist, learning the entire sonata would be child's play.

I like it. We haven't (I think) brought economics into the discussion yet! grin And your example is superb. However, I think it might also be an example of exactly what I am saying -- spending 12-16 hours a day for a few months on the first movement of a Beethoven sonata is counter-productive. At the end, will you know the movement? Yes, hopefully. You've put an astronomical amount of time into it, so I would wish you all the best there! But, at the end of those months, have you addressed the underlying issues that caused the process to take that long? No. You haven't spent those months addressing sight-reading issues, or interpretation issues, or underlying technique issues (most technical issues overlap -- learn it wrong in Mozart, and you will start out playing it wrong in Beethoven, etc).

I would highly recommend putting away the Beethoven, and doing things more beneficial for the process of learning Beethoven. Things that address your "deficiencies" in music. This is what most people fail to do. All you have to do is go over to the ABF, and you will read dozens of posts by adults on, "How do I skip the initial learning-to-play-the-piano process and start playing this piece today?" Or, "How do I learn without a teacher (because teachers move at too slow a pace)?" In these threads, the process of learning (how to learn, not what to learn) has already broken down before the person even begins to approach the keys.

Let me use myself as an example of this exact problem, because I'm not so holy that I don't struggle with it, too! wink

School subjects - I know how to learn this material; I can learn almost any subject in a couple of days

Martial arts - I love the process of how to learn this material; if I had to pick, this is probably the thing I do best in life

Piano - when I was younger, I was stupid. I didn't take the love-of-process approach I did with school and MA, and did exactly what you described above. Instead of building a strong foundation, I dove into Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No 2 (took almost 1.5 years) or Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu (8 months). By college, I had built enough "expertise" to compound this learning and shorten it considerably. I learned the 1st mvt of Rachmaninoff's 2nd piano concerto in 10 weeks. But it was still the wrong approach, and still taking too long. I got an outstanding teacher, and he showed me how to approach the piano differently. Did we adjust technique? Yes. But it was really the approach that needed to change the most. It wasn't until after I stopped studying with him five years later, that I began to realize this. Now, I approach the pieces I learn very differently. But much of the damage was already done, and I, like so many adults, don't have the patience to go back and rebuild technique from scratch. So, the technique I learned correctly later in life is very good (all the difficult stuff), but ask me to play a C-Major scale and you'll think I'm a beginner. Do I know exactly what I would need to do? Yes, absolutely. Am I willing to do it? No, the marginal cost you mentioned earlier is too high. So, I choose not to do it. But that choice doesn't mean that it couldn't be done if I were willing to pay the price.

Man, that was a long-winded explanation to get that one sentence out.. haha laugh
_________________________
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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#2085772 - 05/20/13 01:33 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: King Cole]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2472
Loc: France
Can we begin a tangent about the theory of marginal value? I'd like to debunk that one too.

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#2085778 - 05/20/13 01:48 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: King Cole]
Derulux Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5347
Loc: Philadelphia
Go ahead, I wouldn't mind hearing 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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#2085791 - 05/20/13 02:20 PM Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! [Re: King Cole]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2472
Loc: France
On second thought I'd better not, I'm afraid of getting smacked by Joel. smile

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