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#458043 - 11/26/07 08:36 AM musical talent vs hard work..
STEAVEN PAIK Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/07
Posts: 20
Loc: Seoul, South Korea
I have a question to pianists who come in to this forum. Which aspect is more important to be a pianist? Is it musical talent(personal ability) or hard work. For my case, I tried to major piano but I didn't have the "musical talent" and changed my major to musicology. Of course I practiced very hard but I gave up when my fellow students who prepared college piano exams with me were very gifted since it only took them like 1hour of practice, when I had to practice for 10hours. At that point, I gave up and I still don't regret the fact that I gave up to become a professional pianist and make career out of it.
How about you guys? What do you think is more important? Which aspect will you choose if you have a choice? Like the movie Amadeus,will you choose the musical talent like Mozart or a hard working sprit which is like Salieri. Which aspect will you choose if you have a choice?
_________________________
Steaven paik

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#458044 - 11/26/07 08:48 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13763
Loc: Iowa City, IA
You're inventing an either/or situation where none exists.

The obvious answer is that it takes both, but in my experience, it's the hard work part that people need the most. Put another way, I've seen more wasted talent than wasted work.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#458045 - 11/26/07 08:52 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17746
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Nicely put, Kreisler.

Steven, you may want to check out the Daniel Levitin book called "Your brain on music." He has an entire chapter on the talent vs. effort debate, and he concludes that the vast amount of the variance (about 90%) in performance is accounted for by sheer practice and effort. I think you would find it interesting.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#458046 - 11/26/07 08:54 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
sophial Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/05
Posts: 3446
Loc: US
Kreisler is right. When it comes to getting to the highest levels, there is no substitute for innate talent as well as tons of drive and a strong work ethic. Also, add in luck, good connections, and an ability to tolerate the competitiveness of the professional music world.

Sophia

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#458047 - 11/26/07 08:59 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
What I would suggest is that you return to
piano performance as a major. What appears
to have happened is that you've been
a victim of gamesmanship. One of your
fellow students, who may have been jealous
of your ability, told you that he only
practices for "1 hr." Since you practice
for 10, this completely disheartened you
and made you give up piano performance.
You've fallen for the oldest trick in
the book. This student probably practices
more than you do because he has less
ability than you, and he only said this
in order to get rid of you as competition
for him. You must still have your heart
in piano, since you're still in something
closely related to it, musicology. So
why not just get back into piano? Don't
ever listen to anything like this again,
or any kind of criticism about your
playing.

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#458048 - 11/26/07 08:59 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
That's right Monica, even the Harvard Business Review is saying it's mostly about hard work and dedication. The 10.000 hour / 10 year rule comes up again and again.

http://harvardbusinessonline.hbsp.harvar..._requestid=2497
(scroll down for article synopsis)

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#458049 - 11/26/07 09:05 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17746
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Thanks for that article reference, TheJourney; I'm going to look it up.

The abstract makes the important point that it's not just sheer number of hours of practice but what they term "deliberate practice," where you push yourself beyond your comfort zone and focus on attaining specific skills.

sophial also makes the important point that to reach the highest levels of performance, you need more than effort: talent AND luck AND factors that really shouldn't be relevant but are, like connections in the industry.

Pretty discouraging when you look at it like that, huh? Think I'll stick to my comfort zone... \:D
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#458050 - 11/26/07 09:09 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:
Don't ever listen to anything like this again,
or any kind of criticism about your
playing. [/b]
This is yet another contender for the top-10 worst ever advice given on the pianist corner....

I would say rather that playing the piano at a top level requires the guidance of an expert teacher to provide tough, often painful feedback complemented by effective and deliberate practice.

Look at the preparation of someone who is labelled "talented" and you will see -- not someone who can magically play -- but instead the result of hours and hours of practice and being aware and open to critique for improvement from others.

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#458051 - 11/26/07 09:17 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
 Quote:
Originally posted by Monica K.:
Thanks for that article reference, TheJourney; I'm going to look it up.

The abstract makes the important point that it's not just sheer number of hours of practice but what they term "deliberate practice," where you push yourself beyond your comfort zone and focus on attaining specific skills.

sophial also makes the important point that to reach the highest levels of performance, you need more than effort: talent AND luck AND factors that really shouldn't be relevant but are, like connections in the industry.

Pretty discouraging when you look at it like that, huh? Think I'll stick to my comfort zone... \:D [/b]
It is a great article and came out this last summer. It has really been an eye-opener for me and for my clients to think about whether we are really pushing ourselves or rather coasting in areas we are already good at (polishing shiny surfaces in the practicopia-speak of author Philip Johnston)....

I agree that to reach the highest level of a career as a performing artist that it is all AND, AND, AND. Where LUCK and SERENDIPITY and TIMING and CONNECTIONS are more heavily weighted than any of our egos could stand to realize.

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#458052 - 11/26/07 09:25 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
dannylux Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/06
Posts: 1817
Loc: Connecticut
 Quote:
Originally posted by STEAVEN PAIK:
For my case, I tried to major piano but I didn't have the "musical talent" and changed my major to musicology. Of course I practiced very hard but I gave up when my fellow students who prepared college piano exams with me were very gifted since it only took them like 1hour of practice, when I had to practice for 10hours.[/b]
Liszt said that he never practiced less than 11 hours a day.

Do you think he was without talent?

And do you really think that Juilliard students practice only one hour a day?

Nonsense.


Mel
_________________________
My Recordings

"Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get — only what you are expecting to give — which is everything. What you will receive in return varies. But it really has no connection with what you give. You give because you love and cannot help giving." Katharine Hepburn

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#458053 - 11/26/07 10:31 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Varcon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 1931
Loc: Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445
My teacher told me, when I first went to her, that I had talent but she didn't know if I had the capacity for hard work. She wanted me to quit school and do nothing but work on the piano with real concentration. I would have been willing but my parents were not. However, I did gain quite a bit from her anyway. I practised six to seven hours a day and made good progress.

She told me, also, that she would rather have a student who would work hard than one with talent who wouldn't really work.

Criticism--yes, one needs that very much. She would tell me NOT to listen to friends and family as they will compliment you when it really isn't deserved. You need someone to tell you that your playing is/was awful and help you correct it so that critics and audiences will appreciate your efforts rather than get bad reviews or comments. She advocated a well developed hand and mechanism, complete technical ability, VERY SLOW practice and serious concentration. Talent is undoubtedly an asset but it has to be nurtured, developed, and disciplined to achieve the higher levels to which many aspire.

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#458054 - 11/26/07 11:43 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
pianist.ame Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/18/07
Posts: 1166
Loc: Singapore
I feel that talent only helps a if the student works hard on their own as well.

Well I graduated and am/have been conertrating only on piano for these 2 years either then getting my theory requirements done.

My teacher said that I do have the talent and yes i does help me but still I have to work as hard as i can.
haha..she gives me the same advice as well but for me she does'nt want me to listen to others because it is always negative in a sense that no matter how well i do others are not pleased, still critisised me and my uncle really wants me to quit music so yeah...
_________________________
Currently working on:J.S Bach Prelude&Fugue in C major from bk 1,Chopin Etude op.10 no.12,Impromptus nos.1&4 and Mendelssohn Song without words op.67

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#458055 - 11/26/07 12:03 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
you must have talent to succeed in the highest level of piano performance, with also hard work. but without the kind of talent, hard working can only take you so far. it's not just in piano, but in other fields as well, performing art especially. that's why they would have all that auditions to filter out some people with talent from others. but of course, talent doesn't gurantee one's success unless one works hard.

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#458056 - 11/26/07 12:29 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
I'm reminded of a quote that my 6th/7th grade orchestra teacher posted in the front of the classroom:


Hard work without talent is a shame.
Talent without hard work is a tragedy.[/b]
_________________________
Sam

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#458057 - 11/26/07 12:57 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
STEAVEN PAIK Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/07
Posts: 20
Loc: Seoul, South Korea
Thanks for the responses.. But can hard work can overcome the musical talent? For me I knew I could't and felt myself like blocked by the a great wall and felt like Salieri knowing that I won't able to catch up....How about you guys?
Didn't you ever felt that kind of your own limit?
_________________________
Steaven paik

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#458058 - 11/26/07 01:10 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
Well, you were apparently already doing it.
You say you lack great talent and had to
practice 10 hrs. a day in order to make
up for it, and you apparently were doing
okay until you heard someone say something
regarding that and then decided to quit based on
what you heard, which was complete bulls***
and something you shouldn't have even
listened to.

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#458059 - 11/26/07 01:12 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
The formula is Natural Talent + Acquired Skill + Enough Preparation and Practice!

These are "ingredients" you can't avoid.

When you have done "enough" you will know.

Don't stop before the miracle!

Limits? Blocks?

Whatever your brain thinks will be what happens.
1) No, can do.
2) I'm having trouble with this.
3) I'll never get this.
4) This isn't working.
This is were the cut is made:
5) I'm enjoying meeting this challenge
6) I see, feel, and hear some progress.
7) Let's see what I can accomplish today.
8) I'm doing it!
9) Wow! This is a good workout!
10) Boy, am I happy!

This is of course, assuming that you have the preparation of basic skills needed for the piece you are working on, enjoyment in your music, the right attitude toward work efforts needed, a good brain to work with. No shortage of time.

With encouragement!

Betty

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#458060 - 11/26/07 02:57 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
hopinmad Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/07
Posts: 1001
Loc: Eryri/Manchester
I hate it when people think hard work is not such a wonder as talent is.
Someone willing to work hard is just as talented as someone with talent (or whatever is defined as that).
_________________________
Patience's the best teacher, and time the best critic. - F.F.Chopin

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#458061 - 11/26/07 03:06 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
JohnEB Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/20/06
Posts: 754
Loc: Belgium
I agree with everyone who has said that hard work is important. Equally, no amount of hard work can make up for a lack of talent. This simply means that someone with musical talent will always sound better than someone with a lower musical talent, all other things being equal.

But as has also been pointed out, this is a completely false situation. It's not an either/or situation with musical talent - and clearly you have talent if you're majoring in any musical subject. Just 'play to your talents' and do what suits you best - sounds like you are doing this already.
_________________________
John

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#458062 - 11/26/07 05:03 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
LiszThalberg Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/06
Posts: 3288
 Quote:
Originally posted by STEAVEN PAIK:
Like the movie Amadeus,will you choose the musical talent like Mozart or a hard working sprit which is like Salieri. Which aspect will you choose if you have a choice? [/b]
It was a spectacular play first.
Mozart probably worked very hard (to please his violin playing father) too, but it's true that there was quite a bit of talent in him. Salieri, despite all he did, realized he could never be as great as Mozart. The point of Amadeus is to question whether we are okay living in our own skin and not trying to be someone we're not.

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#458063 - 11/26/07 06:06 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
playadom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/21/06
Posts: 1366
Loc: New Jersey
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianojerome:
I'm reminded of a quote that my 6th/7th grade orchestra teacher posted in the front of the classroom:


Hard work without talent is a shame.
Talent without hard work is a tragedy.[/b] [/b]
Ok then, I don't fit in there.

What would you call no hard work with no talent?
_________________________
Practice makes permanent - Perfect practice makes perfect.

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#458064 - 11/26/07 06:07 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
 Quote:
Originally posted by playadom:
What would you call no hard work with no talent? [/b]
"pianojerome"
_________________________
Sam

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#458065 - 11/26/07 06:08 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
playadom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/21/06
Posts: 1366
Loc: New Jersey
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianojerome:
 Quote:
Originally posted by playadom:
What would you call no hard work with no talent? [/b]
"pianojerome" [/b]
I'm a shameful tragedy then.
_________________________
Practice makes permanent - Perfect practice makes perfect.

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#458066 - 11/26/07 06:17 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
 Quote:
Originally posted by playadom:
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianojerome:
 Quote:
Originally posted by playadom:
What would you call no hard work with no talent? [/b]
"pianojerome" [/b]
I'm a shameful tragedy then. [/b]
:D

You're doing fine.
_________________________
Sam

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#458067 - 11/26/07 11:42 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13763
Loc: Iowa City, IA
 Quote:
Originally posted by STEAVEN PAIK:
Thanks for the responses.. But can hard work can overcome the musical talent? For me I knew I could't and felt myself like blocked by the a great wall and felt like Salieri knowing that I won't able to catch up....How about you guys?
Didn't you ever felt that kind of your own limit? [/b]
Um...Salieri was a very important, influential, and successful composer in his day. So what if he was a bit envious of Mozart? So am I.

Something about this strikes me a bit like Donald Trump declaring bankruptcy because Bill Gates has more money.

The music world is BIG. There is plenty of room for varying levels of talent. There is less room for those who don't want to work hard. (Although some still make it!)
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#458068 - 11/27/07 12:01 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Tenuto Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/07
Posts: 550
Loc: U.S.A.
Steven Paik - you must follow your passion. If music is your passion then everything will work out. Some people are late bloomers. Maybe you don't feel talented right now but it sounds like you really don't want to give up.

Just because you changed your major doesn't mean you can never play the piano again. Who knows what you will be able to accomplish some day?

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#458069 - 11/27/07 02:24 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
 Quote:
Originally posted by Kreisler:
Um...Salieri was a very important, influential, and successful composer in his day. So what if he was a bit envious of Mozart? So am I.

Something about this strikes me a bit like Donald Trump declaring bankruptcy because Bill Gates has more money.

The music world is BIG. There is plenty of room for varying levels of talent. There is less room for those who don't want to work hard. (Although some still make it!) [/b]
Another very, very wise statement from Kreisler!

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#458070 - 11/27/07 08:33 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
John Pels Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/31/07
Posts: 1258
Loc: Tomball, Texas
Sophia's post is the most accurate. It depends REALLY on what expectations you have. I have a solid core of friends that majored in piano performance. We spent the 12 hour practice days. We performed concertos with orchestra in college. We studied with big name teachers/recording artists in grad school.

The bottom line is that it is relatively easy to be in the 1% of the population that can throw together a program of difficult classical piano music and perform it to a decent standard. BUT...to be in the .01 percentile, the Andre Watts, Garrick Ohlsson, Martha Argerich, Alfred Brendel, Maurizio Pollini gang simply is not going to happen for the college gang.To even have a shot at stardom, assume that you will already have won some contests by the age of twelve and likely appeared with a major symphony halfway through your teen years.

If you are saying that you might want to be a professor at a 4 year college that's another thing, as is some sort of gig at a community college. Otherwise you will likely diversify into some other activities as have many of my friends. I teach privately and got into piano rebuilding as a sideline. My friends have gotten out of music entirely. My wife majored in vocal performance and soloed with the Houston Symphony. She had her name on the marquee with Yo Yo Ma. She is now doing VERY well in Information Systems, though she had no formal training in that field. Sooner or later it is nice to have the trappings of a middle-class existence. A music degree will not guarantee that. I recommend to my more talented students to double major. That way you can continue to progress musically, but you can still end up affording some of the better pianos that are discussed on the "Piano Forum". You have to be practical with yourself. Passion and hard work are wonderful assets, but they won't necessarily buy you a house, car and quality piano at some point in your life.

My music pals and I have discussed this topic ad nauseum and feel that it is REALLY a disservice to keep cranking out kids with music degrees in a field that is really glutted. Generating credit hours is fine, but these days anyway, I think that you really have to ponder how you are spending money vis a vis a college education. I was VERY lucky to have attended college here in Texas at a time when the cost of a credit was $4. Yes, you are reading that correctly. It was four dollars a credit. AND both my wife and myself were awarded scholarships besides, so the total cost was really the room and board thing. We just finished educating our two kids and I believe that the cost was in the neighborhood of $125 per credit hour. The cost per year is near $13K all things considered. This does not even approach the cost at private colleges. This is not chump change and for that investment I think that there should be more of a guaranteed outcome. I would advise everyone to be PRACTICAL as regards music as a career. It's a tough world out there gang!!

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#458071 - 11/27/07 08:34 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Arabesque Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 548
Loc: Japan
I don't believe in talent. But when a child is praised at a young age and discovers something, he or she will go back to it. All of us can harness musicality or other ability if we have the confidence. When we see some guy playing the piano and it is good, we remark he has talent. But he already built up his skills through constant practice and he has already got the attitude to succeed. Furthermore we consolidate that person's success by praising him.

I don't believe anyone sits down at a piano and plays instant performances. You want to justify your decision to drop classical piano because you were insecure. But it all in the mind. You have enough innate ability as anyone else but you yourself made the decision that you didn't have enough talent. And you now confirm your satisfaction with a normal career. That's also O.K. But you know it depends on your inner conviction about who you really are.
_________________________
It don't mean a ting if it don't have dat swing

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#458072 - 11/27/07 10:17 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Varcon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 1931
Loc: Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445
John Pels is right about many aspiring vocal/piano/instrumental majors who hope to be the sought after artists for big engagements and venues need to re-think that. Do have a 'back-up plan' as the successful ones are very few and the others are left trying to find something that will support them and families.

If the object is to teach in public schools or colleges and the prospect is good for that, then a degree(s) is necessary. Margolies once remarked that 'the woods are full of them' meaning aspiring and competent pianists but without real hope of a musical career. Teaching privately in a good location can be rewarding but suffers the whims of interest and trends.

A double major, with the second one being something practical and with earning power, is a great suggestion.

I double majored in English so taught that in a junior college until moving to a university. Playing for services was an additional income source and some do go into piano tuning/repair which is also good income!

This is off the topic of talent and hard work but still pertinent to those who might spend long hours practising only to find that success and the limelight eludes them.

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#458073 - 11/27/07 11:43 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
John Pels Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/31/07
Posts: 1258
Loc: Tomball, Texas
Well said Vcon. The year I got my gaduate degree, there were 2 full time teaching positions in 4 year colleges. The stipulations for these positions included "playing engagements with major symphonies, and 20 years teaching experience...." among others. I thought, well it's nice to know that there are jobs out there for...my instructor. There were no local community college positions available at the time, so I got off into private teaching.

The point I was trying to make was that all of the work in the world will not necessarily compensate for a lack of talent. I'm not saying I am not talented, or that Steven is not talented. What I am saying is that one needs to be practical when considering the "what are you doing the rest of your life" scenario. There is talent and then there is TALENT. My instructor was/is enormously talented and he still practiced hour upon hour daily. His discography speaks for itself. But with more talent to start with he's going to get a lot more bang for his buck out of those hours. Anyone that has been "to the mountain" knows what I mean.

It is really tough to confront yourself especially in the realm of the creative venture called music making. It is more important to know who you are rather than who you wished you were. Just because John could play Tchaikowsky in college at 21 doesn't mean that he's on a par with Kissin playing it at 13. It gets back to the 1% thing vs. that .01% thing. Then you get to asking how long it took to learn the piece, and you hear that for instance Nelson Freire can learn and perform a Tchaikowski 2nd in two weeks time from start to memory with orchestra in a public performance. There are folks out there with talent of really GREAT magnitude. How many of us can come close to competing with that?

All of the desire in the world and hard work cannot compensate for how we are hooked up out of the box. At this point I feel really blessed that I can apprehend the greatness manifested in some of the most difficult piano repertoire, and on a good day play them very well. Steven however is asking a VERY IMPORTANT question that will greatly impact his future, and his future earnings potential. All of the posts are well-intended for sure and from many differing perspectives. The power of positive thinking I have never minimized, but at heart, life has taught me to be a bit of a realist. Music is a force that compels you to pursue it, but that must be tempered with a healty dose of common sense. You don't need a degree in piano performance to be a wonderful pianist. You NEED a great teacher and a lot of work. Pick a sensible major and continue to take lessons in college.

Bread on the table is a good thing, along with a supportive family, a Lamborghini in the driveway and a Steinway in the living room.

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#458074 - 11/27/07 02:35 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Steve Chandler Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2698
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
We've gotten away from the original topic , but the new topic is interesting to me as well. So here are my thoughts on both.

What's needed to play the piano at the highest levels is a combination of intellectual ability, athletic aptitude and personality. Intellectual ability is to some degree innate, but is also something that can be developed in a young child. Do any of you know that there are Kindermusik classes for newborns? The ability ro recognize and match pitch can start quite young (my son was matching pitch at 18 months, my daughter didn't until she was 5). I firmly believe that each of us comes into life with some inborn mission, but what we actually achieve is the result of environment and choices we make. Thus my son is a singer and my daughter has other talents. The inborn mission will to some degree impact how much work you'll put into a given field. That's why it takes the combination of ability, work and personality (the inborn mission part) because it takes a huge amount of work above and beyond ability. It also takes a supportive environment. We each find our own path and there are now easy answers no matter what direction we choose. If it's meant to be it will be and if not there's anyone can do that will change that.

To get back to the new aspect of the discussion, my son is a senior in high school this year. He's looking at a school where he can be a music business major, but the business part is in the university's business school (so he'll get a real busines education). If his music career doesn't fly he'll still have a normal business education. Given that his musical talent is singing this makes sense to me because you can only work a voice so many hours (like 2-3) before you use it up. With a business background there's any number of directions he can go. Don't know if he'll ever have a Lamboughini in the driveway though.

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#458075 - 11/28/07 09:50 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
sophial Offline
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words of wisdom from John Pels and Steve Chandler above. When you see that exceptional .01% TALENT as John described it, especially if it has been honed and polished by years of disciplined work-- it knocks you over the head. It's just orders of magnitude different from the type of talent in the 1% even if it is honed by 10k hours of work and all the other factors. But luckily as John said, the tent is big and there is room for talented musicians willing to work very hard to develop into very good to excellent players, performers, and teachers.


Sophia

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#458076 - 11/28/07 10:26 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
rocket88 Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Arabesque:
I don't believe in talent. But when a child is praised at a young age and discovers something, he or she will go back to it. All of us can harness musicality or other ability if we have the confidence. [/b]
As a piano teacher, I find that statement false.

I have had many students, young and older, who have very little or no talent for the piano, and, try as they might, they simply cannot play, or they play very poorly.

One middle-age man studied with me for about 18 months. He was a beginner, and basically could do nothing right at the keyboard.

For example, we studied a simple one-note RH version of "Jingle Bells" and he could never even play the first four measures without murdering it. This after weeks of work. No rhythm, no sense of direction of the melody, almost no control over his hands....nothing. Putting both hands together (LH with a whole single note C) completely derailed him.

And he did try very hard...his lessons were for one hour a week, and we worked on that piece exclusively...it was unbelieveably bad. This from a successful and intelligent middle-aged businessman.

On the other hand, I have pupils (again, both young and older), who take to the piano quickly, and things just work out for them (if they practice) and they are soon playing well.

They take to reading music quickly, instinctively maintain good hand position, have little trouble putting both hands together, etc, etc. And, their playing is "musical", an intangible and somewhat unteachable quality much like some actors have stage presence and others do not.

Some of those good players I mentioned practice at or below the time involvement as the man mentioned above. In fact, with some folks, their talent is such that they do well without the necessary building in of theory and technique, and thus get ahead of themselves and see no need for building in a complete foundation.

Bottom line...Talent is an important component in the mix. And talent usually is a package of abilities, not just one.

As other posters have said, those with less than stellar talent (such as me) can make great strides by hard work. But to say that some form of the "talent package" is not necessary to playing well is false.
_________________________
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#458077 - 11/28/07 10:49 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
argerichfan Offline
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Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8822
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
 Quote:
Originally posted by rocket88:
...those with less than stellar talent can make great strides by hard work. But to say that some form of the "talent package" is not necessary to playing well is false.
I completely concur.

To me, the old saying (encountered here on occasion) that great playing is 1% talent and 99% hard work is an utter idiocy. It's that "1%" talent which makes all the hard work pay off!

Therefore I would put the ratio at about 50-50.

Of course Liszt, Rachmaninov, Horowitz, Rubinstein, etc worked hard. But don't tell me they weren't massively talented.
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Jason

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#458078 - 11/28/07 05:36 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
hopinmad Offline
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I remain unconvinced about talent; it is too undefined I feel.

To say Liszt had talent say (don't get me wrong, I'm not saying he wasn't a genius!), means what? That he could understand music better, feel it, and know how it should sound? That his fingers were somewhow more dextrous and indepenent naturally? Or that he had a great mind, and could see the notes being played in his head maybe and therefore his fingers followed?

I believe only mental ability could vary between people (where piano playing is concerned), from which results obviously a very organized mind which would enable one to play notes quite easily.


But then again, that is how one without talent would see it, isn't it?
_________________________
Patience's the best teacher, and time the best critic. - F.F.Chopin

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#458079 - 11/28/07 06:00 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
T.S.R. Offline
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Posts: 231
Loc: Chicago, IL
I somewhat find John's suggestion to double major something that seems arbitrary. First of all, to my knowledge, the more you focus on one thing, the better chance you have at being successful. So if you keep dividing yourself up into pieces, you're never gonna be top in one thing and you'll end up in middle-management (which is not to insult those that are, it's just that many of us young idealists here want something more out of life). I am in a similar position, where I don't have spectacular talent, and I am somewhat behind the elite, but I feel it would be a waste if I didn't try. I'm doing extremely well in school, I could've probably been looking at some Ivy Leagues if I didn't make this decision.

To explain once more, I decided to graduate high school my junior year and take a year to prepare for auditions. A lot can be done in that time during which I would've been going to school.

That said, I was still considering the thought of doing a double major, because I really like subjects in the social sciences. But in reality, a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy isn't going to be much more practical than a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance at your work place. You're not going to be discussing phenomenalism or subjective reality with your boss. So unless you want to get really good at using language and thought, and want to be become a philosopher or lawyer, it doesn't really matter.

As far as I see it, a bachelor's degree is still a bachelor's degree. I don't know what the exact statistic is, but I think something like 75% of college graduates don't even work in a field related to their major anyway.

That said, the United States has so many opportunities for career changes that you're not going to starve to death.

In any case, you can do graduate work in some other subject area, if music isn't working out. Or after 2 years at a conservatory you'll be able to better assess what your chances are of success. If you're in the fortunate position of being in a University setting, you can do a 5 year double degree if you'd like.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but that is the information I have figured out from various sources. I would like to find out, as a side note, if you need to go extra credits for graduate work in a different field.

In any case, I don't see a reason why people shouldn't pursue a dream, even if it is lofty and ambitious. No one ever became great without taking some risks.

You will of course get different advice from different people. With all due respect to all the older professors, teachers, and players in this forum, I don't think there's an issue with pursuing a performance degree. I know a trumpet major who is now an engineer, and his wife, whom he met at the conservatory, was a clarinet major and is not a dental assistant. They're not complaining.

With that, please correct me if the B.M. is not "equal" to a B.A. to potential employers in any fields.

One tip that I do have for people and that I will try for myself, is to master another language. Language skills are valuable to employers no matter what your position. I'm assuming big time companies will soak you up if you're bi or tri-lingual.

Whatever people's decisions may be, please remember words that my brother has told me recently - "The best investment is to invest in yourself". Get an education whether it be in science, a vocational field, IT, music, sociology or art history. I guarantee you you won't end up working at a Burger King for the rest of your life.

Sincerely,
Tom

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#458080 - 11/28/07 06:18 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
argerichfan Offline
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Posts: 8822
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
 Quote:
Originally posted by hopinmad:
I remain unconvinced about talent; it is too undefined I feel.
But that's the mystery of it. The "talent" that makes one player great may be entirely different in another great player.

Yet all this "hard work" rubbish... of course it's part and parcel of attaining greatness as a pianist, but you can't just take any old bloke off the street, make him work 11 hours a day and produce another Martha Argerich.
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Jason

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#458081 - 11/28/07 06:19 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Max W Offline
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I'll admit I haven't read the topic - so I'm just posting this blind. I think that hard work can achieve musical talent. And musical talent needs hard work. I'm not sure any musician can reach their potential if they don't put the work in, in every aspect. To get where you want to be, you basically just need to work hard to achieve it. Regardless of your innate abilities. Just like learning a language as a child in a sense...some kids pick up speech quicker than others, but to learn a language you typically need to study hard in order to *understand* what you are doing when you construct sentences (etcetcetc) in order to be fluent and accurately expressive. There are a lot of parellels with music there I think. (I like Chomsky's idea that language is innate in a sense, but I think Skinner saying that it needs to be conditioned etc applies just as strongly)

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#458082 - 11/28/07 06:26 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
argerichfan Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Max W:
To get where you want to be, you basically just need to work hard to achieve it...
Wow, Max! That in complete opposition to my post above yours!

We'll just have to agree to disagree on this. \:D
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Jason

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#458083 - 11/28/07 06:31 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Reaper978 Offline
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Posts: 1325
 Quote:
There is less room for those who don't want to work hard. (Although some still make it!)
Have you seen the (relatively) large number of musically ignorant hacks who are making millions off of pop culture?

 Quote:
I would say rather that playing the piano at a top level requires the guidance of an expert teacher to provide tough, often painful feedback complemented by effective and deliberate practice.
I think that is nonsense. One doesn't need their emotions and self-esteem dragged through the mud and stomped on at every lesson to become a great musician. To be forcefully pressed into a mold, perhaps, but that is your choice.

-Colin

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#458084 - 11/28/07 06:44 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Max W Offline
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Registered: 10/05/02
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 Quote:
Originally posted by argerichfan:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Max W:
To get where you want to be, you basically just need to work hard to achieve it...
Wow, Max! That in complete opposition to my post above yours!

We'll just have to agree to disagree on this. \:D [/b]
I said I posted blind didn't I! ;\)

I'll settle it with this - I wouldn't deny that some people are more innately talented and possibly are even DESTINED to follow a certain walk of life, due to their biological makeup. I just think that it's also possible to develop a talent through hard work (perhaps not as great a talent). I was a late starter at piano (13-14) and now that I've almost left teenagerhood, I think I've done alright for myself purely through willing myself to work hard and develop my understanding of music.

(having said that, I seem to have a natural gift for snooker, I just seem to get how the physics of it work easier than others so I don't need to think about it too hard, it's very natural. I also appear to have a natural gift for rambling..)

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#458085 - 11/28/07 10:05 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
-Frycek Offline
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Loc: SC Mountains
 Quote:
Originally posted by STEAVEN PAIK:
when I had to practice for 10hours. [/b]
So did Liszt.
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#458086 - 11/28/07 10:10 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
-Frycek Offline
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Registered: 08/06/05
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Loc: SC Mountains
 Quote:
Originally posted by argerichfan:
 Quote:
Originally posted by hopinmad:
I remain unconvinced about talent; it is too undefined I feel.
But that's the mystery of it. The "talent" that makes one player great may be entirely different in another great player.

Yet all this "hard work" rubbish... of course it's part and parcel of attaining greatness as a pianist, but you can't just take any old bloke off the street, make him work 11 hours a day and produce another Martha Argerich. [/b]
Maybe no Martha Argerich, setting aside the necessity for a sex change operation, but if the old bloke actually liked the piano you could probably make a good working musician out of him.
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#458087 - 11/28/07 11:58 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
computerpro3 Offline
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Registered: 11/12/04
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One thing people are missing is that there is different types of talents within the tent of "piano performing" in my opinion. I also believe some are more valuable than others.

I know it sounds obvious, but there is interpretational talent, sheer musicality, the communication/interpersonal relations factor, the technical talent, etc.

Some are more valuable than others, the way I see it. At school I see people playing Rachmaninoff's Third Concerto and other massively difficult peices. They handle it flawlessley, but no one wants to listen to them.

The winner of the concerto competition this year won with a rendition of Beethoven's 4th that wasn't technically perfect and fluctuated in tempo very noticeably, but it didn't matter because of the depth of his understanding of the peice. It was mesmerizing, where as several other technically perfect performances were not. Call it stage presence, the ability to communicate, or whatever you will, but there are some cases where an extraordinary amount of talent in one of these less obvious areas can be the difference.

I'd rather listen to someone "good" technically and profund musically that incredible technically and average musically.

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#458088 - 11/29/07 12:16 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
sophial Offline
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Loc: US
I find it interesting that most people have little trouble accepting that you need to be born with a great vocal apparatus to become a world class singer but that somehow the same principle doesn't apply to the piano. Yes, much hard work, many hours of practice and a will to succeed are also necessary to have a professional career, but without the basic physical apparatus, all the work in the world will not produce a Renee Fleming or Joan Sutherland, nor will it produce a Horowitz, Argerich or Richter. Somehow it's easier to see the obviousness of this with the voice rather than the piano-playing apparatus but I think it's equally true of both. That's not to say hard work is not needed but it's not going anywhere without the basic underlying physical and mental abilities (including musicality as in the post above).

Sophia

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#458089 - 11/29/07 12:25 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Loki Offline
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Registered: 07/09/05
Posts: 1035
Loc: Texas
 Quote:
Originally posted by Arabesque:
I don't believe in talent. But when a child is praised at a young age and discovers something, he or she will go back to it. All of us can harness musicality or other ability if we have the confidence. When we see some guy playing the piano and it is good, we remark he has talent. But he already built up his skills through constant practice and he has already got the attitude to succeed. Furthermore we consolidate that person's success by praising him.

I don't believe anyone sits down at a piano and plays instant performances. You want to justify your decision to drop classical piano because you were insecure. But it all in the mind. You have enough innate ability as anyone else but you yourself made the decision that you didn't have enough talent. And you now confirm your satisfaction with a normal career. That's also O.K. But you know it depends on your inner conviction about who you really are. [/b]
Even though hard work plays a large role in allowing one to excel at the piano, I think that denying talent exists is implying that everyone is equal. There are plenty of pianists who work very, very hard at the piano, yet it is still rather uncommon to see a virtuoso like, say Martha Argerich, who has prodigious technique and employs it so effortlessly. If talent did not exist, seeing pianists with that level of skill would be common, but it isn't. Not everyone was created equal.

I think talent determines a pianist's potential, and hard work is what determines how close they get to that potential. In my experience, I hear the remark that a pianist is talented when that pianist plays well just as often as when that pianist does not. It refers to what that pianist is capable of in the future and not necessarily what they are currently capable of.

Although I think that hard work is the majority of what makes someone good at the piano, I think that talent does exist and definitely plays a significant enough roll to be mentioned.
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#458090 - 11/29/07 02:06 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
argerichfan Offline
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Posts: 8822
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
This has been an interesting thread to read, and I thank everyone for their input. At least there are a fair amount us who agree that there must be something -whatever it is- to act as a catalyst for hard work.

sophial's mention of singers is interesting. Having recently read Birgit Nilsson's ghosted autobiography (fascinating!), I was very impressed with how hard the lady worked. But no one would argue that there wasn't that "intangible" advantage she had.

I know a bit about this: I've worked with many singers, both in and out of the Anglican communion.
 Quote:
Originally posted by -Frycek:
Maybe no Martha Argerich, setting aside the necessity for a sex change operation...
LOL, after I posted, I figured someone would comment along those lines!

Perhaps mentioning Ms. Argerich and a "bloke" was rather sloppy, but she seemed an obvious example because it is well known here that I consider her one of the most stupendous pianists in history. The list of pianists of her generation which match her is very slim. Start with Pollini... not many others, though.

But my point stands: no amount of hard work from anyone is a guarantee that they will ever take on Argerich. No doubt she works hard, but not in the conventional sense. She learns music instantly (reportedly the slow movement of the Ravel concerto was learned and memorized after one read through), so thus the "hard work" is spent elsewhere.
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Jason

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#458091 - 11/29/07 05:03 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Ragnhild Offline
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Loc: Norway
Of course there are something called "talent".

If you have once seen/heard a real talent at young age you will know instantly, it's so stunning and leaves you with no doubts at all.

But talent is no guarantie for success, this is where the hard work comes in.....

"Normal" people with limited talent (like myself) can achieve a lot of things by hard work, but we never become legends.

But we can feel the joy when we se real talent and choose not to become envious like the "Salieri" character in Amadeus.... ;\)


Ragnhild
_________________________
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http://www.box.net/public/dbr23ll03e

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#458092 - 11/29/07 05:24 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Piano&Violin Offline
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Loc: Frankfurt, Germany
Steven Paik,

There's one thing you'll read about in the biographies of many most successful people: that there've been times when NOBODY except themselves believed in them and that they could do it and even laughed at them.

Whatever ingredient of talent may be needed - you must have some of that, otherwise you'd never made it to the point you did make! - above all it takes hard work, the right instruction, and it takes PERSISTENCE!

If you feel, there's a path you should follow, by all means do what you can to follow that path. If you are not sure what is right for you, pause for another while until you are sure, and when you have the answer, go ahead whatever it is. There are times when you need to take other people's advice, and there are times when you ignore it and follow your inner voice.

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#458093 - 11/29/07 05:50 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Nikolas Online   content
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Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5221
Loc: Europe
Hmmm...

If I was to believe in talent (which I do in a sense) I'd say that it takes 1% of everything we do. The rest is hard work, try, society, family, schooling, etc...

Definition of talent (for me, personally, not officialy, right?): The tendency[/b] to do something better than something else.

Academicaly, education accepts that different people have different parts of their brain stimulated more. I've never had much chance with... basketball no matter how hard I tried. Never. But music? yup!

I'm a music minded person (math as well, but not linguistic or sports really).

But, what makes me wonder:

a. My father used to put me to sleep by playing the piano or the guitar.
b. He taught us the recorder in the age of 3.
c. He was listening to A LOT OF music in the house.

I can never be sure if this tendency that I have (Which I've practiced to the full extend of course) is a result of a gene, and my "talent", or before I was even born, when my mother was aching and my father would sing to her (and me, in her woomb) to calm ME down! (<-nice story, huh?)

In the end, one thing is for sure. Talent or not talent, without hard work you can't make it. If you don't have talent if you do try hard, you can go rather far, but with talent and no work you'll end up nowhere.
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#458094 - 11/29/07 06:18 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
SideShow Offline
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Registered: 08/06/07
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Loc: Belgium
Some small percentages you give for talent

I think it's more than 1%, more than 10, even more than 20% ... Talent is very important ..

Let's take a person with a magnificent talent and a person with very little talent. They both work very hard ... In the end, the person with the magnificent talent will be LOTS better than the other one.
And the more time that passes, the more obvious the difference will be
_________________________
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"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

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#458095 - 11/29/07 06:45 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Piano&Violin Offline
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I listened to an interview with Mr. Tiriak, who was Boris Becker's trainer for 10 years, and who trained him when Becker won at Wimbledon. One of the inevitable questions asked was "what is it that makes you successful, talent or work?" Tiriak's answer was a crystal-clear "work and the right instruction".

Which, although that's not part of the focus in this thread, tells me, a good teacher, in addition to the work of course, is by far more important than talent!

On the other hand, there sure are restrictions e.g. a person's body offers, look at the height of a typical baseball champ, and "talent" sure does play a role if you're keen on playing the piano but barely notice the difference between a minor third and an octave ...

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#458096 - 11/29/07 07:14 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Nikolas Online   content
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 Quote:
Originally posted by SideShow:
Some small percentages you give for talent
What? I can't have an opinion? ;\)

 Quote:
Let's take a person with a magnificent talent and a person with very little talent. They both work very hard ... In the end, the person with the magnificent talent will be LOTS better than the other one.
And the more time that passes, the more obvious the difference will be [/b]
Lets.

How will you differentiate talent from what the family provides? Take Bach (not Johann), for example, and stack him to a family with NO music inside. Would his "talent" be enough to make him what he was?

Take Beethoven and stack him of piano lessons, or the early pressure that his father put on him. Would his talent show and make him what he is?

Talent, as a word for me, is something that is natural, that's on the genes, that is god given if you will, but I simply don't buy that. I prefer to believe that I am mostly (<-read mostly, not completely) responsible to how my kids develope, and be left into the fate of this weird "talent" force which cannot be controlled...
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#458097 - 11/29/07 07:40 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Piano&Violin Offline
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Nikolas, recent research is all on your side, and so do I believe.

How can we say talent is a birth-given fact determining you until the end of times when research shows that even "minor" things such as a teacher's attention or unexpressed expectation make a huge difference?

Besides, how well can we trust those who say that you are talented or not, when they see talent and intelligence in most kids who come from a good social background and don't see it in a similar group from problematic social backgrounds and who recognize the talent again in a group which they are told is from a good social backgroud but actually comes to the problematic one?

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#458098 - 11/29/07 08:17 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Ragnhild Offline
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I think people with different answers to this also have different definitions of what "talent" is.
I would say "talent" is a combination af lot's of things, including physical abilities, intelligence, family background, psycological factors....etc

I am sure that there are a lot of young children that have the opportunity to become very good in music diciplines with a good teacher, cheerful environment and strong self dicipline. In 15 years you will find them as music teachers, organists, accompanists, in orchestras etc.

But the greatest of talents will stand out as child prodigies, I think there are hardly no exceptions.

Ragnhild
_________________________
Trying to play the piano:
http://www.box.net/public/dbr23ll03e

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#458099 - 11/29/07 08:31 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Piano&Violin Offline
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Ok, maybe we should include what we understand talent to be. I understand talent to be some inherent ability that you are born with and which is there regardless of whether you use/cultivate it or not, just like the ability of ones eyes to see.

I would clearly separate between "talent" and family background or other social factors. Quite the contrary, I would strongly oppose mixing it, as that would mean the socially disadvantaged would clearly come out "less talented" which in society is another way of saying "you're not good enough, don't even bother to try".

Again and again there have been strong personalies from poor backgrounds, breaking out of the "average expected development" which must have taken a degree of skill, knowledge, intelligence, and energy I can only admire, and adding more stereotypes would cost these even more strenghs.

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#458100 - 11/29/07 09:12 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Ragnhild Offline
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You can like it or not, but since musical skills is so much easier to achieve at early age, family background will be an important factor.

A 6 year old child of music teachers will probably have been surrounded by music for 2190 days of his life already and if he's interested he will already have skills that it will take newcomers years to achieve. He will also have the chance to develop absolute pitch and hand eye coordination skills that might be impossible to learn later on.

In our responsibility of being parents we will have to remember that we are the ones to raise our children and that our limitations to some degree also will be our childrens.
Of course school and kindergartens do a tremendous job helping and developing kids, but you will never see a tone deaf 12 year old evolve into a violin virtouso.

But, money is not the important factor here, you can not buy musicality.... ;\)

Ragnhild
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#458101 - 11/29/07 09:34 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Piano&Violin Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Ragnhild:
You can like it or not, but since musical skills is so much easier to achieve at early age, family background will be an important factor[/b]
Ragnhild,

I can fully agree to that - just not that talent depends on family background and else, except through the genes, of course, but no other than that.

That there is a huge difference between fully supportive parents and careless ones, sure. Would never deny the responsibility that parents have.

But I do know, unfortunately, there're quite a few parents do don't care or who are unable to give their kids the proper care because they are sick or because they died very early. And to add the stigma of being called "untalented" to the burden the children from there families have to bear anyways is not ok in my opinion.

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#458102 - 11/29/07 09:44 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Ragnhild Offline
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It is an interesting discussion :

originally posted by Piano&Violin :
 Quote:
just not that talent depends on family background and else, except through the genes, of course, but no other than that. [/b]
Ok, I'm with you in the definition of talent, lets say it is something that is "programmed" already at your birth.

This means that none of us never achieve more than a tiny little part of what our born-with talent could have made us.
Even a great violin virtouso has to live with the fact that he might have become a surgeon instead and saved many lives.... ;\)

Ragnhild
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#458103 - 11/29/07 09:46 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Monica K. Offline

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Registered: 08/10/05
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 Quote:
Originally posted by SideShow:
Some small percentages you give for talent

[/b]
...because, as Piano&Violin noted, that's what the scientific research indicates. If you have the chance, look up that article on expertise cited on the first page of this thread. Then read Benjamin Bloom's book, "Developing Talent in Young People," and then for the coup de grace read the 900-page "Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance." These sources show convincingly that (quoting from the Ericsson article), "experts are always made, not born. These conclusions are based on rigorous research that looked at exceptional performance using scientific methods that are verifiable and reproducible...the journey to truly superior performance is neither for the faint of heart nor for the impatient. The development of genuine expertise requires struggle, sacrifices, and honest, often painful self-assessment. There are no shortcuts. It will take you at least a decade to achieve expertise, and you will need to invest that time wisely, by engaging in 'deliberate' practice--practice that focuses on tasks beyond your current level of competence and comfort" (Ericsson et al., 2007, p. 116).

Elsewhere in the article they say "The only innate differences that turn out to be significant--and they matter primarily in sports--are height and body size."
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#458104 - 11/29/07 10:02 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Piano&Violin Offline
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Monica, I understand these two books you mention are very interesting.

Would they be worth while reading for a person who's focus is on piano learning, i.e. would they possibly help destroy prejudice which might hold development and progress back, or might they be considered a little time consuming and too much of a "time eater"?

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#458105 - 11/29/07 10:11 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Brian Bennett Offline
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Without coming off too harsh,

This is a recanting of the obvious with references. Of course hard work is required to get to the top of any discipline/art/expertise. As unjust as it might seem, some even with hard work and fortitude will just never get it. So many things have to come into play to make master.

Talent
Environment to foster the talent into skill
Financial means
A personality capable of the acute focus/obsession to stick to it.

I am not talking about a competent artist, but those considered at the top of heap. With a medium level of intelligence and a lot of hard work, almost anyone can get to a level of competence.

As many will agree, you must start developing the talent at an age before the hardwiring sets in. Those of us on the older side know how hard it is to learn once you get past a certain number of years. You still can learn, but it sure takes a lot longer.

Here is a thought to ponder. Is the notion of tone deafness real? From my teaching experience, I have found that it is a myth. I have yet to find a nut I couldn't crack yet. Some just take a lot longer.

Flame suit on.
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#458106 - 11/29/07 10:12 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Monica K. Offline

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Piano&Violin, the Handbook is dense reading and written for researchers in the field. I wouldn't take the time to go through it all myself. The Bloom book might be more readable but is more out of date (published in 1985). I'd suggest asking your library to get through interlibrary loans if they don't already have them and then just skim them for the relevant parts.

Actually, my main advice would be to buy the Levitin book, "This is your brain on music," and read his chapter on expertise. It's up to date and very entertainingly written, and the rest of the book is also quite enjoyable.
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#458107 - 11/29/07 10:13 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
SideShow Offline
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I'm with you, experts are made, without doubt.
Still, I think talent is very important.

Talking of sports ... I always admired Michael Jordan. That man worked hard and without doubt some other athletes worked as hard as him. Still he was the greatest (of all time, open for discussion \:D )
That is talent, the ability you are born with to do certain things better than someone else.
According to my dictionary: talent = natural capacity to do a certain thing. It's without doubt that this can differ a lot between 2 persons, even of same height and size.
Yet, it needs to be said that the only way to success is hard work
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#458108 - 11/29/07 10:19 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
sophial Offline
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Hi Monica
No argument that it takes stuggle, sacrifice and practice even for the innately talented. But note the title of the article "DEVELOPING TALENT in Young People" -- it's developing and nurturing something that is already there. People don't spend 10,000 hours doing something they have no aptitude for-- the process weeds out those who are not making progress. Part of the difficulty with discussions like this is they tend to polarize into "either-or" thinking: nature vs nurture when of course it's both working synergistically. I don't think there are any studies of a sample of people selected at random and subjected to 10,000 hours of piano practice to see what happens-- but I'd hazard a guess. If there is an underlying continuum on a bell-shaped curve of "talent" or "aptitude" for piano playing, I would bet that after the 10K hours, we'll still have a bell-shaped curve, or probably one that is stretched out even further on the top end. Everyone will have moved up and gotten better,and many might even now be in the "expert" range however we define it, but those on the top end of the "talent" distribution will have moved up proportionally even farther than those at the low end. Talent and hard work will interact synergistically to produce greater levels of achievement, and no great surprise there. Hard work might get you a music degree and a job, but without the underlying equipment (think "great pipes" in a singer) it won't get you people flocking from around the globe to hear you sing or to play the piano, a la Martha Argerich. This is not to discourage all of us mere mortals (and I count myself firmly in that group)who have more persistence and work on our sides than sheer talent from doing what we love.

Sophia

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#458109 - 11/29/07 10:45 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
sophial Offline
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posted by MonicaK:

Elsewhere in the article they say "The only innate differences that turn out to be significant--and they matter primarily in sports--are height and body size."


I also think sometimes we underestimate the physical side of piano playing-- while not a sport it definitely requires high levels of neuromuscular coordination and control. Body size and height might not be what turns out to be significant in piano playing but I'll bet there are likely some innate brain organization and neuromuscular attributes that provide an advantage in playing music. Again, not to say these things can't be improved and developed but there might be some underlying hard wiring that is part of the "talent" package. Just mho.

Sophia

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#458110 - 11/29/07 10:52 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Piano&Violin Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Brian Bennett:
As many will agree, you must start developing the talent at an age before the hardwiring sets in. Those of us on the older side know how hard it is to learn once you get past a certain number of years. You still can learn, but it sure takes a lot longer. [/b]
Yes and no.

Concerning motor activity, it's absolutely correct that there's a time when it develops and that, ideally, you should start learning piano or whatever other skill at that time. Because, at a later time you must first unlearn the motor skill that's been learnt (though probably unconsciously)and then learn the new skill. And it is likely that this process will take longer the older you get, i.e. because you've got more solid habits to unlearn.

Intellectually, and in general, there's no proof that the learning process will take longer as you get older. It will take some effort to get back into a learning routine if you didn't learn for a number of years - if it were physical exercise you'd call it bring your muscles back into shape - but apart from that there's no reason why it should take longer, except that this is the general belief.

And, of course, at some point during life, there are factors depending on the physics and aging of your body.

Monica,

Thanks for the info on the books!

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#458111 - 11/29/07 10:56 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Nikolas Online   content
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SideShow:

Physical differences yes. I have "huge" hands and can reach C to G on my left hand. Don't think THAT many people can do it... So playing chords and octaves comes... natural. But playing something like the flight of the bumbblebee is rather hard for me, while my older teachers daughter, only 11 had no trouble playing it!

I don't think that anyone can deny physical differences, but again, I'll take anyday a kid who studies but has small hands, and appears to have little talent, to a talented kid with big "pianistic" hands that does not study. \:\)
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#458112 - 11/29/07 11:07 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Monica K. Offline

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 Quote:
Originally posted by Piano&Violin:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Brian Bennett:
Those of us on the older side know how hard it is to learn once you get past a certain number of years. You still can learn, but it sure takes a lot longer. [/b]
Yes and no.


...Intellectually, and in general, there's no proof that the learning process will take longer as you get older. It will take some effort to get back into a learning routine if you didn't learn for a number of years - if it were physical exercise you'd call it bring your muscles back into shape - but apart from that there's no reason why it should take longer, except that this is the general belief.
[/b]
Here's a relevant quote from the Ericsson article: "Research has shown that musicians over 60 years old who continue deliberate practice for about ten hours a week can match the speed and technical skills of 20-year-old expert musicians when tested on their ability to play a piece of unfamiliar music."
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#458113 - 11/29/07 11:11 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Monica K. Offline

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 Quote:
Originally posted by sophial:
Hi Monica
No argument that it takes stuggle, sacrifice and practice even for the innately talented. But note the title of the article "DEVELOPING TALENT in Young People" -- it's developing and nurturing something that is there. People don't spend 10,000 hours doing something they have no aptitude for-- the process weeds out those who are not making progress. Part of the difficulty with discussions like this is they tend to polarize into "either-or" thinking: nature vs nurture when of course it's both working synergistically. I don't think there are any studies of a sample of people selected at random and subjected to 10,000 hours of piano practice to see what happens-- but I'd hazard a guess. If there is an underlying continuum on a bell-shaped curve of "talent" or "aptitude" for piano playing, I would bet that after the 10K hours, we'll still have a bell-shaped curve, or probably one that is stretched out even further on the top end. [/b]
Great post, Sophia... I agree (almost) completely with you. You are absolutely right that we need the study you described to draw any firm conclusions. But when I do your thought experiment in my head, I predict a different outcome: I don't think we'd have a normal curve any more, for the reason you mentioned earlier, namely that people with less aptitude won't stick it out. So I envision a positively skewed and much narrower distribution, with most people after 10,000 hours looking a great deal alike, and only a few individuals in the low end, with even fewer outliers in the upper end... the Argeriches and Horowitzes etc.
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#458114 - 11/29/07 11:17 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Piano&Violin Offline
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Thanks, Monica, it's always great to have the "professional backup"! Though, I do have a collegue who used to teach piano who said that adults learn the piano faster than kids as the rule, probably because of their dedication, time they can practice and intellectual ability to understand complex things faster, at least compared to a young kid.

Sophia, I am sure that piano or any other instrument is no different in that some people would hate it and do not more than necessary and others love it and to as much as they can, and in addition that, even with equal conditions and dedication you find one is great and the other one rather poor.

In addition to the visible learning process there are so many other factors involved. Such as seeing someone play the piano as far as you can remember - there's something a kid learns already from that, or being concerned with parents who don't get along, the child himself suffering from poor health and a million other things. There's really no black and white where you can put people!

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#458115 - 11/29/07 11:25 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Nikolas Online   content
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Let's just keep in mind that talent does exist in some form, or some %, and it will help. I don't really doubt that. I am not arguing that we all are "tabula rasa", but that it is not really important. \:\)

Sophia, great post. \:\)
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#458116 - 11/29/07 11:35 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
sophial Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Monica K.:
 Quote:
Originally posted by sophial:
Hi Monica
No argument that it takes stuggle, sacrifice and practice even for the innately talented. But note the title of the article "DEVELOPING TALENT in Young People" -- it's developing and nurturing something that is there. People don't spend 10,000 hours doing something they have no aptitude for-- the process weeds out those who are not making progress. Part of the difficulty with discussions like this is they tend to polarize into "either-or" thinking: nature vs nurture when of course it's both working synergistically. I don't think there are any studies of a sample of people selected at random and subjected to 10,000 hours of piano practice to see what happens-- but I'd hazard a guess. If there is an underlying continuum on a bell-shaped curve of "talent" or "aptitude" for piano playing, I would bet that after the 10K hours, we'll still have a bell-shaped curve, or probably one that is stretched out even further on the top end. [/b]
Great post, Sophia... I agree (almost) completely with you. You are absolutely right that we need the study you described to draw any firm conclusions. But when I do your thought experiment in my head, I predict a different outcome: I don't think we'd have a normal curve any more, for the reason you mentioned earlier, namely that people with less aptitude won't stick it out. So I envision a positively skewed and much narrower distribution, with most people after 10,000 hours looking a great deal alike, and only a few individuals in the low end, with even fewer outliers in the upper end... the Argeriches and Horowitzes etc. [/b]
Hi Monica,
well in my "thought experiment" I forced them all to continue even if they wanted to quit! \:D
But you've in a sense strengthened my point which is that if the people without aptitude drop out, then we are not looking at the effects of hard work alone on a randomly selected population but of hard work COMBINED with aptitude in a self-selected group and how those factors interact. I agree, more people will look better and there will still be that upper tail trailing off into the stratosphere of elite pianists--- which is kind of what we see if we look at conservatories, music schools, etc.

Piano and Violin-- absolutely, this is not an either/or, nature vs nurture issue-- which is why I'm arguing that both talent and hard work are important and synergistic.

Sophia

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#458117 - 11/29/07 11:43 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Brian Bennett Offline
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Retention of muscle memory and skill level is different from developmental learning. And yes if you continue to use it you won't lose it. But, as we get older the wiring is set and it becomes increasingly difficult to learn and develop the new.

There is evidence to this end that most here are familiar with. It is especially important for the the first 10 years. As an example, a child can have a significant portion of there brain removed, say the area involved with speach, and the remaining lobes will adapt and relearn. This just doesn't happen with an adult. Short term to long term memory transcription is also well documented to diminish with age. Now is "talent" a genetic/congenital trait or is it learned in the early early years? Can any child become a protege' given early internvention? That to me is the real question.
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#458118 - 11/29/07 11:45 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
argerichfan Offline
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Moving back- a number of posts came in before I could quote Monica:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Monica K.:
Elsewhere in the article they say "The only innate differences that turn out to be significant--and they matter primarily in sports--are height and body size."
But this still doesn't explain why two students -similar background and age, same teacher, same Chopin Etude- produced such radically different results.

I'm not talking hypothetically. I was there; I had the same teacher. One student innately grasped the technical and musical challenges of the etude and brought it up to speed in a matter of weeks.

The other student, try as she might, never could approach the proper tempo without the etude completely falling apart in a circus of botched notes and rhythmic insecurity. (She seemed able to play it accurately and musically at a slow tempo.)

Most disconcerting was that this gal worked a lot harder on that etude than the student who was able to publicly perform it three weeks later.
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#458119 - 11/29/07 02:13 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
hopinmad Offline
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"you can't just take any old bloke off the street, make him work 11 hours a day and produce another Martha Argerich."

Couldn't you??

With 11 hours of exposure to the piano, and music in general, I am sure the old bloke would progress, so long as it was 11 hours of hard work, and there would be no end to the progress.

I say, like you, "an old ( as in 'any' yes?) bloke", but of course some would be impossible to adapt, but a person of considerable, even only some in fact, intellect could make this progress.


The really tricky bit would be to practise for 11 hours a day for years. That would be the difficult part, not the presence of talent.


Of course, it can't be proved right and it can't be proved wrong can it?


Also I may add as I did last time: that this is how someone without talent would see it, is it not?
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#458120 - 11/29/07 02:19 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Nikolas Online   content
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Hem,

The ability to learn deteriorates the older we get...
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#458121 - 11/29/07 02:22 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Monica K. Offline

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 Quote:
Originally posted by Brian Bennett:
Now is "talent" a genetic/congenital trait or is it learned in the early early years? Can any child become a protege' given early internvention? That to me is the real question. [/b]
And it's probably an unanswerable one, at least with any kind of scientific rigor.

The Ericsson article opens, though, with an anecdote about a Hungarian couple who wanted to challenge the belief that women weren't good at chess. So they took their three daughters from an early age and home-schooled them with an emphasis on chess. By 2000 all three daughters were ranked in top 10 female players in the world, and one of them broke Bobby Fischer's world record for being the youngest person to reach the level of grand master and is currently one of the world's top players of either gender.

That's not scientific evidence, but it's sure suggestive. ;\)
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#458122 - 11/29/07 02:27 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Steve Chandler Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Reaper978:
 Quote:
I would say rather that playing the piano at a top level requires the guidance of an expert teacher to provide tough, often painful feedback complemented by effective and deliberate practice.
I think that is nonsense. One doesn't need their emotions and self-esteem dragged through the mud and stomped on at every lesson to become a great musician. To be forcefully pressed into a mold, perhaps, but that is your choice.
[/QB]
The concern with self esteem and emotions is an outgrowth of the politically correct mentality. Reality doesn't care how you feel so the question becomes who would you rather hear it from, the world at large by their complete disinterest in you or a teacher who has your best interests at heart and the courage to be honest with you. I believe one of the marks of a great pianist is the willingnness to hear all (but not necessarily act on) criticism or the strength to ignore it completely. People who constructively criticise others are doing them a favor because it's much easier to simply say nothing and turn your back. I understand that some take glee in delivering harsh criticism, most of us are smart enough to recognize that and ignore it. However even the harshest criticism usually contains some degree of truth and it's the ability to dispassionately distill the substance from the style in which it's delivered that sets the truly successful (in all endeavors) from those who would rather lick their wounds.

Colin, in the interest of full disclosure I'll be honest and mention that we've had some private communication. You didn't respond well to my constructive criticism so I've chosen to not comment any more on your work. Here you've addressed a fundamental issue and I'm offering one last bit of advice. Forget your feelings and deal with what is. All emotions are choices we make anyway so if you get angry at something I say simply choose a different response. You could try being appreciative that I had the courage to tell you the truth (as I see it) so that you could then use that opinion (which is all it is) to more fully inform your decisions and actions. In other words if you can take something constructive from what I or anyone else say whether said nicely or not you will be that much farther ahead in the game.

I'll offer a good example. The New England Patriots are undefeated in American football this season. Their coach, a certain curmudgeon named Bill Bellichek is notoriously parsimonius with praise. He motivates his team to "show him" what they can do. If he so much as says somebody "had a pretty good game, but there are still things we need to work on" that's considered high praise. That the team is undefeated indicates that his methods are indeed successful (as does the fact that they've won three championships in the last 5 years).

The fact is praise teaches nothing (unless they tell you why they liked it which almost never happens). Criticism can teach a lot (because people will support their view if asked). The truly strong will ask, "So what didn't you like?" and will evaluate the response to determine if they need to do something different.

Good luck.

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#458123 - 11/29/07 02:53 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
theJourney Offline
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Great post Steve!

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#458124 - 11/29/07 04:23 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
drumour Offline
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Agree - great post, Steve! I also agree ( probably more ?) with Reaper978. In my opinion, teaching at whatever level need contain no criticism at all. Telling someone how to do something better and coaching them in that process does not require any telling them of how bad they were. In fact why waste valuable time on a "critique" when you could just be getting on with fixing things and preparing the student for their next bouts of practising.


John
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#458125 - 11/29/07 04:59 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Janus K. Sachs Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by drumour:
Agree - great post, Steve! I also agree ( probably more ?) with Reaper978. In my opinion, teaching at whatever level need contain no criticism at all. Telling someone how to do something better and coaching them in that process does not require any telling them of how bad they were. In fact why waste valuable time on a "critique" when you could just be getting on with fixing things and preparing the student for their next bouts of practising. [/b]
I think this is more a question of teaching style, and whether this is compatible with how one responds to the pedagogy used. Some teachers use tough love effectively, others like the soft and cuddly approach. Judging from Reaper978's other posts, Steve's wonderful post (go Steve!), and his current signature, he (Reaper) doesn't take to any type of criticism very well. He's so full of himself and his own subjective truths -- and he has a lot of growing up to do (but then so do we all). But really, without any kind of truly constructive criticism, no matter how kindly phrased, we cannot possibly improve and grow as pianists.
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#458126 - 11/29/07 05:10 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
signa Offline
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i remember that once at lesson, after playing a piece i was working on, my teacher looked at me and said, 'how do you want me to say it, honestly or politely?' so, i said, 'just tell me what it is.' so i got the honest critique i deserved.

the point is that you'd never learn anything if all a teacher could say to you is 'good job' all the time, even if you know you're not that good. a good teacher should tell his/her students the honest opinions or even criticize technical or musical mistakes students made without pouring harshness or sweetener into it at the same time. people learn from their mistakes if they know what they are.

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#458127 - 11/29/07 05:18 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Janus K. Sachs Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by signa:
a good teacher should tell his/her students the honest opinions or even criticize technical or musical mistakes students made without pouring harshness or sweetener into it at the same time. people learn from their mistakes if they know what they are. [/b]
Yeah, I personally respond best to this "straight talk" approach too. But others may not.
_________________________
Die Krebs gehn zurcke,
Die Stockfisch bleiben dicke,
Die Karpfen viel fressen,
Die Predigt vergessen.

Die Predigt hat g'fallen.
Sie bleiben wie alle.

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#458128 - 11/29/07 05:37 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
sophial Offline
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posted by hopinmad:
"With 11 hours of exposure to the piano, and music in general, I am sure the old bloke would progress, so long as it was 11 hours of hard work, and there would be no end to the progress."


Well, the progress line would start to level out and hit a limit at the point where that person has maxed out their potential and reached their "personal best" (this is probably more true of technical skills than musical interpretation). Again, the greater the innate potential, probably the longer to reach that point.

Monica, the chess family you describe is an interesting example but really doesn't suggest much more than that if you have parents who are very interested in chess (music) themselves,and likely have some aptitude for it (hence the intense interest) they probably have children who share some of that aptitude and can instill and nurture that interest early. We hear of course about the rare situation in which the kids became chess champions (or the Five Browns). We don't hear about the thousands of families who tried the same thing and their kids are playing recreationally (or worse, never want to see a piano or chess board again in their lives).

Best,
Sophia

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#458129 - 11/29/07 06:21 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
hopinmad Offline
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Why should it stop; there is nothing to stop it!


Monica's post also implies this.

Especially as all three daugthers reached such standards.
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#458130 - 11/29/07 06:55 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
sophial Offline
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for the same reason that runners don't continue to improve indefinitely-- or else we'd have people running one minute miles (or less). Think of it as an asymptotic function --as you close in on your physical and mental processing limit the rate of progress will probably slow. This may be more applicable to technical prowess (i.e. speed, virtuosity) as one hits one's physical and coordination limits than to musical interpretation which is probably more open ended and subjective.

I've been around many families who lived for chess teams, clubs, tournaments, etc. It's very much the same thing: There were kids who worked LONG hours, slaved away at it and did ok and others who worked just as hard (or sometimes less so) but had an extreme aptitude for "seeing the board" and left the other kids in the dust. (and when these kids are willing to put in the long hours and work very hard, look out-- that's how chess champions come about).

The fantasy that we are all able to be elite players if we work hard enough is a cherished one ( very American-- just work hard enough and nothing can stop you) but it's naive. Sorry, don't mean to sound harsh; maybe it's my version of the "tell it to me straight approach" discussed above.

Sophia

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#458131 - 11/29/07 07:19 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
-Frycek Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Nikolas:
How will you differentiate talent from what the family provides? Take Bach (not Johann), for example, and stack him to a family with NO music inside. Would his "talent" be enough to make him what he was?

Take Beethoven and stack him of piano lessons, or the early pressure that his father put on him. Would his talent show and make him what he is?
[/QB]
Of course then there's Handel - - -
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#458132 - 11/29/07 08:36 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
John Citron Offline
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I agree with a lot of what's been said here. Signa summed it up nicely with the critique. What good does it if all you get the praise and not what needs to get done. All of my teachers gave me the critique. and this pushed me to do better each lesson.

I heard someone say a very long time ago that anyone can be taught to press the keys on the piano, but it takes talent, passion, and dedication to make the music come out.

In thinking back about my career choice, I have some regrets about not persuing a music career, but in others I don't. Having chosen a technical career has afforded me some nice benefits as John Pels pointed out. I have a nice piano, my own home, and a decent salary with fully-paid medical benefits. If were a freelance teacher or musician, these things would be harder to achieve especially the medical benefits, which cost so much today.

John
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#458133 - 11/30/07 03:21 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Ragnhild Offline
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originally posted by Sophial;
 Quote:
The fantasy that we are all able to be elite players if we work hard enough is a cherished one ( very American-- just work hard enough and nothing can stop you) but it's naive. Sorry, don't mean to sound harsh; maybe it's my version of the "tell it to me straight approach" discussed above.[/b]
I think this is more or less what I've tried to express myself (except that I did not now it was very American... ;\) )

I would like to just accept that great talent is a God-given thing that I am not supposed to understand, just to acclaim.

Teachers and parents of these very talented children have a very difficult task to balance between critics and praise, pushing and holding back. Talent is no guarantee of success and I can do nothing but admire those who managed to become professional solo musicians.

Ragnhild
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#458134 - 11/30/07 03:36 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
theJourney Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by sophial:
for the same reason that runners don't continue to improve indefinitely-- or else we'd have people running one minute miles (or less). Think of it as an asymptotic function --as you close in on your physical and mental processing limit the rate of progress will probably slow. This may be more applicable to technical prowess (i.e. speed, virtuosity) as one hits one's physical and coordination limits than to musical interpretation which is probably more open ended and subjective.

I've been around many families who lived for chess teams, clubs, tournaments, etc. It's very much the same thing: There were kids who worked LONG hours, slaved away at it and did ok and others who worked just as hard (or sometimes less so) but had an extreme aptitude for "seeing the board" and left the other kids in the dust. (and when these kids are willing to put in the long hours and work very hard, look out-- that's how chess champions come about).

The fantasy that we are all able to be elite players if we work hard enough is a cherished one ( very American-- just work hard enough and nothing can stop you) but it's naive. Sorry, don't mean to sound harsh; maybe it's my version of the "tell it to me straight approach" discussed above.

Sophia [/b]
Good points. Yes, we all do live in the physical world where we come up to both the limits of physics and our general innately human physiological and psychological capabilities. The sky is not the limit.

As to those putting in long and arduous hours and getting marginal returns, or slipping early and asymptoticly into less than stellar plateaus: As the studies across a wide spectrum of human endeavor and Monica have pointed out, it is not the hours an sich that count but the deliberateness of the practice, the constant and relentless focus on working on the things you CANNOT do instead of repeating what you CAN do. It is about having an expert teacher and experienced coach make sure you know the difference, take meaningful steps and support you in constantly and steadily converting that what you CANNOT do into that what you now CAN do. Not only hard work is required but deliberate, guided practice.

For example, I don't deny that W.A. Mozart was "talented" but if Leopold had been a tavern owner or even a card-carrying music enthusiast instead of both an experienced musical pedagogue with his own published method and at the same time a pushy, junior-beauty-pageant, his-childhood-be-damned kind of parent, I doubt we would be enjoying Mozart's music today.

That is why the soft love, cuddle them silly, you can do no wrong kind of teacher may produce graduates who have "used their own talents in their own special way", but it won't make them great pianists. Nor will it give them the kind of life lessons they will need to work hard and smart enough to later be recognized as having "great talent" in another, more financially secure field of work.

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#458135 - 11/30/07 05:06 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Piano&Violin Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Brian Bennett:
But, as we get older the wiring is set and it becomes increasingly difficult to learn and develop the new. [/b]
According to my own experience, learning is a lot easier now for me than it was when I was younger. As observed with several years of studies aged 31-35 and as I am currently, aged 47, observing as I learn languages, my music scores and theory, plus whatever learning my job requires.

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#458136 - 11/30/07 05:17 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
theJourney Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Piano&Violin:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Brian Bennett:
But, as we get older the wiring is set and it becomes increasingly difficult to learn and develop the new. [/b]
According to my own experience, learning is a lot easier now for me than it was when I was younger. As observed with several years of studies aged 31-35 and as I am currently, aged 47, observing as I learn languages, my music scores and theory, plus whatever learning my job requires. [/b]
This 46 year old would echo your experiences. I have also found that learning can be improved by having access to all the associations and experiences we can bring to the process in our maturity compared to our youth.

While it is true that there is a physical brain development and pruning process that takes place in the puberty and post puberty years that reportedly makes learning languages and memorizing large pieces thereafter more difficult, current advances in neuroscience indicate that we remain very pliant and teachable as we age -- as long as we continue to learn or practice. The old adage "use it or lose it" appears to be scientifically accurate.

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#458137 - 11/30/07 08:11 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Monica K. Offline

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 Quote:
Originally posted by sophial:
The fantasy that we are all able to be elite players if we work hard enough is a cherished one ( very American-- just work hard enough and nothing can stop you) but it's naive. [/b]
Everything I know about the distribution of intelligence leads me to agree with you here, sophia... but then this literature on expertise just has me scratching my head.

Maybe it all comes down to the definition of "expert" vs. "elite." I'd certainly be comfortable with a position that says anybody can become an "expert" at something with 10,000 hours of deliberate practice, defined as "accomplished practitioner" or "professional level," but that additional factors (innate talent, right body, etc.) are required to hit that rarefied "elite" level.

p.s. I completely agree that there's absolutely nothing we can conclude from the Hungarian chess family example, and I hope I adequately stressed the nonscientific nature of that anecdote in my post.
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#458138 - 11/30/07 11:32 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
sophial Offline
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Hi Monica
I think the problem with much of the expertise literature is that it is not dealing with randomly selected populations. If we think of it as how to best nurture and develop existing talent in people who are motivated to improve-- it makes sense. People who start out with some aptitude and interest, who are highly motivated to improve, and who stick with it (remember there is a strong attrition process as those not doing well drop out) will improve, and often greatly improve, to some level of expertise after many hours of focused concentrated practice (not just repetition, but focused on skill building).I have no argument with that and think the evidence is quite good for it.

It gets interpreted though by many people as meaning that if you select people randomly you can create Gary Kasparov, Vladimir Horowitz or Mozart by subjecting them to 10k hours of training. I just don't think there is good evidence to that effect and it flies in the face of what we see in the world.

If you did this with enough people, there would be some in the group with a high enough level of talent to emerge from the process having achieved elite status (especially because the process would winnow down the group),but it's the synergy of the innate talent subjected to great training that produces it, not just the training IMHO.
Training is no doubt necessary but not sufficient to achieve elite status.

Ragnhild,
no, I don't think Americans have a monopoly on this idea ;\) . I agree with you that talent is only one component of success in a professional career as a musician-- much hinges on temperament, luck, timing, good connections, drive and even these days-- how good looking one is!

Sophia

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#458139 - 11/30/07 12:17 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Betty Patnude Offline
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A person is going to do what he is going to do. Given all the influences on our lives we are a combination of our inner world and our outer world experiences. Our inner most world contributes a great deal to a persons ability to have musical successes. Musical is part desire to be musical, having something of importance to communicate about, being on the journey, having good resources for the informational parts of music, training, attention to detail, task orientation, motivation, aspiration, inspiration, all kinds of qualities make up the profile of a "musician" with potential. Being able to explore and develop our musical selves is the path we are on electively.

When there is opposition, obstacles, unfinished work, our music suffers.

The constant judgment of how am I doing? Concern for the time it is taking is the ego asking for ratings. We need to be able to give reality checks to ourselves, we know when we're doing well, likewise, we know when we're in a slump. The acceptance needs to come from ourselves. The opposition, obstacle, unfinished work is often ourselves doing battle with ourselves.

The more open minded we can be about our music, with awareness and reality, the more work we will be able to accomplish. When self-criticism and expectations enter in, it's a losing battle. We can't help ourselves if we are looking for "failure" all the time, and concentrating on the "problems" we think we are facing.

That is like walking down a street in your neighborhood trying not to step on the cracks - you've got your head down, looking for cracks, avoiding the cracks which makes for some strange walking gaits. Consumed by looking for cracks, you miss the trees in bloom, the kids playing, the sunny day, the walking freely with purpose.

So look for the things going well, recognize them, say gratitude for improvements, and be nice to you in all thoughts.

Why is it so hard to do that?

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#458140 - 11/30/07 07:51 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
sophial Offline
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You are a wise woman, Betty!

Sophia

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#458141 - 12/01/07 05:58 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
hopinmad Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by sophial:
for the same reason that runners don't continue to improve indefinitely-- or else we'd have people running one minute miles (or less). Think of it as an asymptotic function --as you close in on your physical and mental processing limit the rate of progress will probably slow. This may be more applicable to technical prowess (i.e. speed, virtuosity) as one hits one's physical and coordination limits than to musical interpretation which is probably more open ended and subjective.

I've been around many families who lived for chess teams, clubs, tournaments, etc. It's very much the same thing: There were kids who worked LONG hours, slaved away at it and did ok and others who worked just as hard (or sometimes less so) but had an extreme aptitude for "seeing the board" and left the other kids in the dust. (and when these kids are willing to put in the long hours and work very hard, look out-- that's how chess champions come about).

The fantasy that we are all able to be elite players if we work hard enough is a cherished one ( very American-- just work hard enough and nothing can stop you) but it's naive. Sorry, don't mean to sound harsh; maybe it's my version of the "tell it to me straight approach" discussed above.

Sophia [/b]
With runners it's a completely different situation, the physical sate of their bodies are going to effect it much more than it does so with piano, ultimately, it will mean they've reached their 'fastest lap'. I guess you could define talent with athletes therefore; simply as their physical bodies.
With piano-playing, great technique isn't dependant on physical ability as much (though of course it does to some considerable extent) as it does with running. There would be no reason why one couldn't attain the technique of Kissin, if it wasn't for the hard work (please note I've said in an earlier post that I mean for example, 11 hours of work to mean 11 hours of hard work, otherwise it's just 11 hours of playing) involved, and therefore that hard work maybe could be defined as Kissin's talent.
His musicality, however, is a different factor, but actually, the same process could be applied.
You say of lots of kids slaved away at something when they were younger, saying that is proof of [lack of] talent, but it doesn't so, it means they might, in fact, didn't practise effectively enough. Simple putting the hours in is not enough.
Chess is a different field though, mental ability, resulting in a good enough organized mind to see ahead, is going to play a major factor, but with piano playing, it isn't neccesary to be a genius. Some intellect is going to be required obviously, and probably the more more so the faster the progress, but if there is prgoress at all then there's potentially no end to it.
"Just work hard enough and nothing can stop you", isn't followed as much as it should, as for the reasons I said before, that hard work has to be complete concentrataion, of maximum efficency; deliberate practise.


 Quote:
Originally posted by Monica K.:
p.s. I completely agree that there's absolutely nothing we can conclude from the Hungarian chess family example, and I hope I adequately stressed the nonscientific nature of that anecdote in my post. [/b]
On the contrary; a family who wants to challenge the belief that women were not good at chess, so they want their THREE daughters to become chess champions and so then obviously it would be clear that women were good at chess. They teach their kids from an early age, make sure their practise is carried out constructively, and all three become champions? Without this practise they would never have reached such a stage, and talent doesn't come into it so much; all of them have suceeded. One could argue that all three had talent, but isn't that already pushing the thought that talent is a rare thing? Maybe that talen they each had is the difference between their standards now.
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#458142 - 12/01/07 06:18 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
soccer_daemon Offline
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Registered: 03/30/07
Posts: 128
The unfortunate reality of talent vs hard-work is
that the more talented ones usually get better
attention and usually get to study with and learn
from the best teachers! The less talented ones
usually won't even get in the line.

Think about it, who on earth would want to spend
ten times or more effort+time in coaching the less
talented and without even guarantee s/he will
achieve as much. There is simply no free charity
out there in this very competitive market.

It's almost very analogous to the argument of why
the rich get richer and the poor stay poor!

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#458143 - 12/01/07 06:48 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Nikolas Online   content
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After participating in this thread, I just realised that I dissagree with the title pretty much, although I do realise what the title means.

I can't see anything about "talent VS[/b] hard work". Both are needed, both do exist at some point and it would be foolish to dissagree, since there are scientific researches (VARK system for example), that show what learning prefernces a person has. It doesn't mean anything but preferences but I would draw a small personal conclusion that other people are better at writing, other at drawing, other at music, etc... (and other at sports, which is also some kind of intelligence). http://www.vark-learn.com/english/index.asp

Just an idea! but I support total dedication and hard work, as well, personally. Just can't deny that there could be preferences. I also don't like the idea that these tendencies are pre made into us gene/nature/god wise. Prefer to think that our parents/school/society put them...
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#458144 - 12/01/07 11:01 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
sophial Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by hopinmad:

[/b]
With runners it's a completely different situation, the physical sate of their bodies are going to effect it much more than it does so with piano, ultimately, it will mean they've reached their 'fastest lap'. I guess you could define talent with athletes therefore; simply as their physical bodies.
With piano-playing, great technique isn't dependant on physical ability as much (though of course it does to some considerable extent) as it does with running.

Sophia replies:
Great technique is very much a physical ability as well as mental one (just as running is very much dependent on mental focus as well as physical ability). But in either case abilities like this are distributed according to a bell-shaped curve. Which is why training alone in the absence of physical gifts will not get one to the Olympics , but the absence of training will likewise keep one from getting there.

hopinmad:
There would be no reason why one couldn't attain the technique of Kissin, if it wasn't for the hard work

Sophia:
So why aren't there tons of Kissins out there?

hopinmad:
(please note I've said in an earlier post that I mean for example, 11 hours of work to mean 11 hours of hard work, otherwise it's just 11 hours of playing) involved, and therefore that hard work maybe could be defined as Kissin's talent.

Sophia:
The capacity for hard work is indeed probably part of some versions of talent-- but if that's all it took there would be a lot more people at that level.

hopinmad: His musicality, however, is a different factor, but actually, the same process could be applied.
You say of lots of kids slaved away at something when they were younger, saying that is proof of [lack of] talent,

Sophia: No, I didn't say that was proof of lack of talent. I used that as an example of willingness to work hard and put in hours of concentrated hard work.

hopinmad: but it doesn't so, it means they might, in fact, didn't practise effectively enough. Simple putting the hours in is not enough.

Sophia:Agreed.

hopinmad: Chess is a different field though, mental ability, resulting in a good enough organized mind to see ahead, is going to play a major factor, but with piano playing, it isn't neccesary to be a genius.

Sophia:
why should piano playing be any different than other activities requiring physical and mental skills such as running and chess? The skills might be different (fine motor control and coordination for example, or ability to shade and nuance playing and understand the deeper levels of a composition) but greater ability counts.

hopinmad: Some intellect is going to be required obviously, and probably the more more so the faster the progress, but if there is prgoress at all then there's potentially no end to it.

Sophia: uh, that's a lovely thought but.... in the end reality asserts itself.

hopinmad: "Just work hard enough and nothing can stop you", isn't followed as much as it should, as for the reasons I said before, that hard work has to be complete concentrataion, of maximum efficency; deliberate practise.

Sophia: The only thing we can control is how much and how well we work. We can't go back and trade in our genetics or our very early learning experiences. So let's focus on high quality hard work and see how far it gets us. But it's also important to have some realistic expectations too. On a population basis, only a few people will make it to the top. However, it's difficult to predict for any individual where she/he will end up given the right kind of focused work-- which is why this should not be interpreted as discouraging people from working as hard and well as they can and seeing how far they can progress.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Monica K.:
p.s. I completely agree that there's absolutely nothing we can conclude from the Hungarian chess family example, and I hope I adequately stressed the nonscientific nature of that anecdote in my post. [/b]
On the contrary; a family who wants to challenge the belief that women were not good at chess, so they want their THREE daughters to become chess champions and so then obviously it would be clear that women were good at chess. They teach their kids from an early age, make sure their practise is carried out constructively, and all three become champions? Without this practise they would never have reached such a stage,

Sophia: agree

and talent doesn't come into it so much; all of them have suceeded. One could argue that all three had talent, but isn't that already pushing the thought that talent is a rare thing?

Sophia: It is not so hard to understand if you remember that these three girls were NOT CHOSEN AT RANDOM. They share their parents genes and their upbringing. So right off the bat there is a higher chance they might share "talent" endowments much more than three girls picked at random out of the phone book.

hopinmad: Maybe that talen they each had is the difference between their standards now.

[/QB][/QUOTE]

Again, it's BOTH. And I do think that what we know from research tells us that experience and hard work changes biology, especially in the early years. We can control how much and how efficiently we practice-- and then see how far it takes us.

best wishes,

Sophia

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#458145 - 12/01/07 05:17 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
hopinmad Offline
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Sophia:
Great technique is very much a physical ability as well as mental one (just as running is very much dependent on mental focus as well as physical ability). But in either case abilities like this are distributed according to a bell-shaped curve. Which is why training alone in the absence of physical gifts will not get one to the Olympics , but the absence of training will likewise keep one from getting there.

Hopinmad replies:
It isn't so much a factor as it is in running; not so much in fact that the majority of people will not reach a physical limit to what they can cope with.

Sophia:
So why aren't there tons of Kissins out there?

Hopinmad replies:
Because of the hard work involved! Loads of people put in the hours but it is a great minority that uses them properly!

Sophia:
The capacity for hard work is indeed probably part of some versions of talent-- but if that's all it took there would be a lot more people at that level.

Hopinmad replies:
I suppose this is similar to the previous reply, but I'll stress again the contrary, because for that to be "all it takes" is actually a great mountain to climb, and it isn't as easy as for a "lot more people" to be able to do that.

Sophia:
No, I didn't say that was proof of lack of talent. I used that as an example of willingness to work hard and put in hours of concentrated hard work.

Hopinmad replies:
"Slaving away" isn't exactly "willingness" to put in the hard work is it?
As I say again, putting the hours in isn't enough because that's just long, not hard, work/

Sophia:
why should piano playing be any different than other activities requiring physical and mental skills such as running and chess? The skills might be different (fine motor control and coordination for example, or ability to shade and nuance playing and understand the deeper levels of a composition) but greater ability counts.

Hopinmad replies:
To run miles is obviously going to take more physical ablility than it will to play any piece, that cannot be argued with, and understanding deeper levels of composition or ability to shade and nuance playing is an attaiable skill, much more so than to bear in mind all possible outcomes of several moves ahead. Please don't make this out as if I'm saying playing the piano is easy!

Sophia:
uh, that's a lovely thought but.... in the end reality asserts itself.

Hopinmad replies:
I've never actually heard of anyone who has put in the hours and not been rewarded, obviously I would not, but I cannot argue it therefore.


May I add, as I don't think I've done into a reply to one of your posts, that this is the way someone without talent would see it, isn't it?
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#458146 - 12/01/07 09:53 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
sophial Offline
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I guess we'll have to agree to disagree, hopinmad. I think playing the piano is quite physical as well as mental, even if it's not aerobic! ;\) Progress is certainly going to occur if that focused hard work is put in ... the end result though is hard to predict in any individual case, which is why it's important to see where hard work and focused practice take all of us. Hopefully as far as we can go...

Best,
Sophia

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#458147 - 12/02/07 07:28 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
theJourney Offline
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Interesting tidbits rummaging about in Mozart's letters:

Remarking on Stein's daughter:

"...She may succeed, for she has great talent for music. But she will not make progress by this method (sitting wrongly, wild movements, not playing in time, playing heavy handedly)"

On an exchange with Dutch-born pianist Georg Frederich Richter:

"...when I played to him he stared all the time at my fingers and kept on saying 'Good God! How hard I work and sweat -- and win no applause -- and to you, my friend, it is child's play'. Yes, I replied, I too had to work hard, so as not to have to work hard any longer."

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#458148 - 12/02/07 12:23 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
John Citron Offline
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Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
 Quote:
Originally posted by theJourney:
Interesting tidbits rummaging about in Mozart's letters:

Remarking on Stein's daughter:

"...She may succeed, for she has great talent for music. But she will not make progress by this method (sitting wrongly, wild movements, not playing in time, playing heavy handedly)"

On an exchange with Dutch-born pianist Georg Frederich Richter:

"...when I played to him he stared all the time at my fingers and kept on saying 'Good God! How hard I work and sweat -- and win no applause -- and to you, my friend, it is child's play'. Yes, I replied, I too had to work hard, so as not to have to work hard any longer." [/b]
These tidbits are just as appropriate today as they were back then.

John
_________________________
Nothing.

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#458149 - 12/02/07 12:45 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
sophial, I also must admit that I find the sputterings about "yes, but they weren't chosen completely at random, so all bets are off" argument rather specious.

Even in the fictional Pygmalion the flower lady wasn't chosen completely at random from the world's population. The play would have been much less enjoyable if Professor Higgins had had a native from Papau New Guinea suddenly have to drop their head shrinking and drum beating for a bit of miraculous posh-English speaking and ballroom dancing....

Of course, we are talking about individuals within a relevant range of their culture and environment who, for whatever reasons -- whether personal interest, family prodding, or the relentless and uncontrollable pushing by one's predetermining genes -- choose or have chosen for them to study the piano and who by working harder, in a smart and deliberate way, under expert tutelage during a sustained period of time are able to exploit or rather create their 'talent'.

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#458150 - 12/02/07 01:04 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
hopinmad Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/07
Posts: 1001
Loc: Eryri/Manchester
Sophial, we'll have to indeed!
But if I didn't believe what I said then you see there would be no reason for me to continue playing the piano!
_________________________
Patience's the best teacher, and time the best critic. - F.F.Chopin

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#458151 - 12/02/07 01:15 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
sophial Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/05
Posts: 3446
Loc: US
 Quote:
Originally posted by theJourney:
sophial, I also must admit that I find the sputterings about "yes, but they weren't chosen completely at random, so all bets are off" argument rather specious.

Even in the fictional Pygmalion the flower lady wasn't chosen completely at random from the world's population. The play would have been much less enjoyable if Professor Higgins had had a native from Papau New Guinea suddenly have to drop their head shrinking and drum beating for a bit of miraculous posh-English speaking and ballroom dancing....

Of course, we are talking about individuals within a relevant range of their culture and environment who, for whatever reasons -- whether personal interest, family prodding, or the relentless and uncontrollable pushing by one's predetermining genes -- choose or have chosen for them to study the piano and who by working harder, in a smart and deliberate way, under expert tutelage during a sustained period of time are able to exploit or rather create their 'talent'. [/b]
agreed, but to think these three girls' attributes were somehow unrelated and they were picked totally independently from the "talent pool" as if they were strangers (even strangers from the same culture) would be inaccurate.

Sophia

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#458152 - 12/02/07 01:23 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
wouldn't just one girl or 2/3 from the family have been every bit as compelling?

what would you have thought of a successful experiment in their family (assuming they had enough time and resources) to make one girl a chess grand champion, another a piano competition winner and first chair Tuba player while a third is groomed to graduate as a mechanical engineer in a man's world? Simply good "self development genes"? Or is the kneading more important than the dough?

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#458153 - 12/02/07 08:20 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
sophial Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/05
Posts: 3446
Loc: US
I think you "knead" both ! ;\)

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#458154 - 12/02/07 09:59 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Mark... Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 4373
Loc: Jersey Shore
I've been at this a year practicing on average of 2-3 hours a day everyday and I can see by listening to others and comparing myself to others that I do lack real talent. I was hoping my love of the sound of the piano and hard work would make me a real player, but alas it may not be possible. I told myself I would give it 100% for a couple of years and then re-evaluate and decide if I should continue. One year to go...

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#458155 - 12/02/07 10:42 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
IMHO Training and talent are polar ends of the same issue.

The object of training is to acquire a skill ... which in turn provides a sense of confidence in an activity close to one’s heart.

Once acquired the issue of hard work takes a back seat ... there is no effort in doing something one likes doing ... my specialities are playing golf, sketching, architectural designs, watercolours, playing piano, reading to my grandchildren ... but the thing I dread
most is having to do the washing up ... now that’s what I call really hard work!!

Talent is what people like to attach to someone well practised in an enjoyable skill ... talent should not be misleadingly construed when some young sprog with apparent flair dashes off a Chopin Nocturne ... this is not talent ... merely a rare genetic aural skill which is exploited
(with self-aggrandising applause) ... having obviated the laboured requirement of endless sight-reading ... but ironically has to pay the
price of hard practice to sustain the aural memory.

Sadly the bogey of sight-reading stifles confidence ... and talent has to be substituted at the piano by hard work.

Why can’t the reading of music be as easy as reading a book?

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#458156 - 12/02/07 11:25 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
jazzyprof Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/04
Posts: 2621
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI
 Quote:
Originally posted by Mark...:
I've been at this a year practicing on average of 2-3 hours a day everyday and I can see by listening to others and comparing myself to others that I do lack real talent. [/b]
"If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans." (From Desiderata.)

You play the piano because you love the sound. So long as you enjoy the sound you make, you should not worry about the "talent" of others or its assumed absence in yourself. Unless of course you plan a career as a concert pianist...
_________________________
"Playing the piano is my greatest joy...period."......JP

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#458157 - 12/03/07 10:00 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Mark,

Don't quit before the miracle!

Two to three hours of practice is dedication and very commendable.

Are you self-studying or preparing lessons for a piano teacher to collaborate with you.

There is so much in the archives here at PWF that you might consider searching on any keyword that you are wanting more information about, such as "practice". There are so many books available these day on practice ideas. Very, very valuable.

Google: PracticeSpot

Being proficient at the piano is going to take as long as it takes. Time and effort invested is what it takes. And....You are doing that!

Betty

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#458158 - 12/03/07 01:31 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Mark... Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 4373
Loc: Jersey Shore
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
Mark,

Don't quit before the miracle!

Two to three hours of practice is dedication and very commendable.

Are you self-studying or preparing lessons for a piano teacher to collaborate with you.

There is so much in the archives here at PWF that you might consider searching on any keyword that you are wanting more information about, such as "practice". There are so many books available these day on practice ideas. Very, very valuable.

Google: PracticeSpot

Being proficient at the piano is going to take as long as it takes. Time and effort invested is what it takes. And....You are doing that!

Betty [/b]
Yes Betty I'm using a teacher. She is great too.

But my problem, that I speak of isn't about her or my practice, but my lack of natural talent. Specifically in the areas of rhythm, timing and musicality...

I knew I had this problem going in and was hoping I could beat it with solid hard work and education. And although I have made some progress, I still seems to lack that special something. When I started this I decided to dedicated 2 years of solid practice and see what happens. I don't expect to play like a pro, just when I do play my level pieces that they at least sound good. This thread topic kind of hit it on the head, talent vs hard work.

Mark...

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#458159 - 12/04/07 12:40 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
TheMadMan86 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 341
Loc: Evansville, Indiana
"everyone knows that rock beats scissors, but then scissors beat paper, and paper beats rock, Kif we have a cunumdrum"
Zap Branigan

so
Rock=hard work
scissors= talent
paper=luck?? i guess

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#458160 - 12/04/07 12:45 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
paper=imagination
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#458161 - 12/04/07 03:10 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
phonehome Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/06
Posts: 921
Talent without hard work gets you nothing.

I talked to Stanislav Ioudenitch this weekend and this was basically what he was trying to get across to me. I have a technical talent and emotional soul/musical feeling that very very few people possess, and so far in my life I have squandered it. I'm extremely angry with myself for letting down all of my teachers/friends/family that have believed in me.

Much of the stuff he said to me is what I would consider to be personal and I don't feel right disclosing it, but I've never been so motivated and simultaneously ****ed at myself in my entire life. After hearing me play for 15 minutes, he completely picked me apart as a person and told me exactly what I needed to do to put myself atop the music world. It's time to practice.

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#458162 - 12/04/07 04:46 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Steve Chandler Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2698
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
 Quote:
Originally posted by phonehome:
Talent without hard work gets you nothing.

I talked to Stanislav Ioudenitch this weekend and this was basically what he was trying to get across to me. I have a technical talent and emotional soul/musical feeling that very very few people possess, and so far in my life I have squandered it. I'm extremely angry with myself for letting down all of my teachers/friends/family that have believed in me.

Much of the stuff he said to me is what I would consider to be personal and I don't feel right disclosing it, but I've never been so motivated and simultaneously ****ed at myself in my entire life. After hearing me play for 15 minutes, he completely picked me apart as a person and told me exactly what I needed to do to put myself atop the music world. It's time to practice. [/b]
Colin take note, this is a positive response to constructive criticism. Phonehome congratulations to you for finding a teacher who would be honest with you and for taking the criticism for exactly what it was meant to be, a motivational kick in the pants. Come back and tell us how your marathon practice session went.

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#458163 - 12/04/07 05:52 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
Brendan Offline



Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5289
Loc: McAllen, TX
 Quote:
Originally posted by phonehome:
I talked to Stanislav Ioudenitch this weekend... [/b]
You were at Wideman? I had like 8 friends who did it this year (two very good friend of mine were prizewinners) and was thinking about trying again myself. I heard that it was a massacre, as it always is, lol.
_________________________
http://www.BrendanKinsella.com

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#458164 - 12/04/07 07:20 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
chopin952 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/20/06
Posts: 492
Loc: North Carolina
This thread is very interesting. I have always heard from my parents, teachers, and elders that:
talent + hard work = success[/b].

Though I have a question regarding age. If you have any amount of talent and can put in a constant amount of quality meaningful work per day, at what point does your age start to diminish your mental and physical capacities to prevent you from taking advantage of that raw talent?

That is, is it the same increase in skill for an 18 year old to study intensly for 4 years as it is for a 30, 40, 50 year old? Assuming no impairing conditions (arthritis, Alzheimer, etc...)

Another way of looking at it is: Did Horowitz practice and gain further ability from age 76 to 86 as he did from age 26 to 36?

Maybe the equation turns into:
talent + hard work - age = success[/b]
_________________________
-chopin952 (NY S&S B) (On YouTube)

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#458165 - 12/04/07 09:29 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
yhc Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/31/04
Posts: 149
Loc: NYC, NY
 Quote:
Originally posted by chopin952:
...
talent + hard work - age = success[/b] [/b]
maybe
talent + hard work = capability[/b]
capability + luck(?) = succes[/b]

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#458166 - 12/04/07 10:13 PM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
phonehome Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/06
Posts: 921
 Quote:
Originally posted by Brendan:
 Quote:
Originally posted by phonehome:
I talked to Stanislav Ioudenitch this weekend... [/b]
You were at Wideman? I had like 8 friends who did it this year (two very good friend of mine were prizewinners) and was thinking about trying again myself. I heard that it was a massacre, as it always is, lol. [/b]
Yeah. It was crazy this year. 40 really really good pianists. 6 pianists that just had really bad days (I was one of them). I thought Christopher Falzone from Curtis should have taken the top prize. He played Rachy 2, which had been performed by probably 7 people in the prelims. When I heard him play it, it was as if it were the first time I'd ever heard the piece. What an artist!!!!!

The guy who played Prokofiev's 2nd in finals did very well, but it wasn't transcendent. The guy who played Tchaikovsky's 2nd did about as well as you can do with that horrible horrible piece. I'd love to hear him play something with a little melody. Bartok's 2nd won. The girl who played it was lovely and I thought she played it well and made it sound managable. It's just that I felt Falzone took everything to a whole new level. He was simply spectacular. Very little ego, wonderful wonderful shaping, nearly flawless technique, bla bla bla yakkity shmakkity.

Anyways, didn't mean to hijack the thread.

My hands really really hurt right now. Time to rest.

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#458167 - 12/05/07 03:12 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7767
I must be really really old-fashioned, but I'm kind of amazed that there's so much talk about stuff like expertise studies in this thread, and more than a few side trips into totally unrelated fields such as sports and games, as if they had some relevance, but there's practically zilch about the actual art of making music. At least there were some attempts to define talent as multi-faceted, and comments that maybe people weren't even talking about the same thing.

And, no, I can't define talent, either, although talking around it can be a start at pointing towards what it is, even without arriving at a definition.

Are we talking about musical art and the capability to produce art when we talk about talent? Or is it about just the craft of playing the piano, which is a skill that hard work can sometimes hone to a very nicely sharpened edge (and sometimes even provide the means for a good career even although the person may only have quite modest musical talent)? To me, that distinction seems to be the major difference in some of the points of view in this thread, and they really aren't about the same thing at all. Being "expert" at playing the piano is a craft that is rather far removed from most issues regarding talent, IMO. But yes, being expert at it to some degree is required for the musical talent to be manifested (which seems something of a no-brainer to me). But, on the other hand, there have been world-class pianists who claimed not to work at it, once they'd learned how to play.

I think it's cruel to tell people that sheer hard work can substitute for talent, if there's any chance they'll take what you say as motivation to work hard. At best, hard work can take a relatively minor talent (yes, talent comes in sizes and qualities) and allow it to flourish to its fullest (and unfortunately, sometimes beyond, as when a small talent leverages mere technical expertise into the illusion of a larger talent - I can think of several cases of phenomenon who are currently performing).

I think of talent for performing classical music as almost a visionary sort of thing, where people (usually from a very young age) demonstrate that they are able to grasp what the music is about in ways that might be described as instinctual and intuitive, and are able to take that understanding of it and apply it to their performing and somehow turn t around and communicate what they know. It is NOT something that seems to the person who has it to be acquired by work, but seems to be something they always have had, although it grows and deepens with experience. That is not something you can get via hard work. I think for a very talented person, the hard work essentially consists of trying to get their performance to match their vision of what the music is and/or can be, but without that talent, hard work is more like hoping to create the vision from without (and it usually won't work, I don't think).

wr

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#458168 - 12/05/07 03:36 AM Re: musical talent vs hard work..
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Good distinction wr. I've always assumed the 'talent' in this topic to mean mostly a physical attribute. You don't get many discussions at PW about art. Art for me is imagination - a word most people don't know the meaning of. The irony is that's all you need to know to be an artist.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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