VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!!

Posted by: King Cole

VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/08/13 04:44 PM

Well here goes nothing. I will make this post knowing the inevitable backlash. As I have been reading these forums for some months now there seems like that there is no question that one can ask without people who have been here for years exclaiming "HEY YOU STUPID NEWBIE USE THE SEARCH FEATURE THAT WAS TALKED ABOUT PLENTY OF TIMES OVER THE YEARS!"

Well, I know this question has been asked plenty of times but many posts are inconclusive and drift off to irrelevant topics. Before I ask these questions some minor background info:

I am a trumpet player that started to play the trumpet since age 8. However, I have decided to pursue my favorite instrument about 5 months ago as I am taking lessons from a former white house pianist so with all this I am not a musical novice. I've played with symphonic orchestras, jazz bands, solos and done accompaniments etc. I have talked to my teacher about this subject from time to time but now I want all piano teachers, judges, accomplished pianists, professionals and whomever feels like they have valuable insights to give their thesis. Specifics are important but without further ado the questions in their simplest form.

What are the most effective ways to obtain virtuoso technique???
What is the most efficient way to improve via practice time?

To get the conversation going: It seems like a common thesis is that "slow play" will solve everything. IS SLOW TO FAST REPETITIONS THE ONLY WAY? Others suggest that exercises like Hanon, drilling scales and arpeggios is the only way while some are very critical of this path saying that an obsession of scales and exercises compromise musicality making the player very mechanical and that the best way to get technique is through building a diverse and vast repertoire. Some people say drill each hand until one is able to play both at the appropriate speed then play hands together at a slower speed. Is it best to always use a metronome when gradually increasing in speed? Does using hands separate waste time? How many hours should one expect this journey take to consider one self a virtuoso? I'm not looking for magical answers just answers with clarity backed by experience.

*Please give specifics and no "all of the above" or "its different for everybody answers*

Hopefully if a lot of good answers come we can have this as a permanent post where the most experienced people have consolidated their knowledge!
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/08/13 04:52 PM

1) Talent
2) Dedication
3) Teacher
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/08/13 05:04 PM

Originally Posted By: King Cole
What are the most effective ways to obtain virtuoso technique???

See Joel's reply. grin

Quote:
What is the most efficient way to improve via practice time?

depends (and I don't mean using urinary pads)

Quote:
IS SLOW TO FAST REPETITIONS THE ONLY WAY?

No, and depending on exactly what you mean by virtuoso technique (like, if you mean super virtuoso), it isn't necessarily a way. See Joel's reply. smile

Quote:
Is it best to always use a metronome when gradually increasing in speed?

No, but that's a useful thing.

Quote:
Does using hands separate waste time?

No, but IMO doing it an awful lot is bad.

Quote:
How many hours should one expect this journey take to consider one self a virtuoso?

depends (ditto from before) ha

Quote:
*Please give specifics and no "all of the above" or "its different for everybody answers*

Not possible. smile

BTW I hope that indeed nobody says the obnoxious "Do a search." Thankfully it seems we've almost eradicated that from the site.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/08/13 05:29 PM

King Cole, I could be mistaken, but didn't you write about pain or tension in your top forearm muscles in another thread?

If that's the case, you'll need to learn how to correctly use your muscles so you play with the least amount of effort.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/08/13 05:43 PM

You cannot control talent so in terms of doing the best with what you have it's irrelevant.

Getting the best teacher for your goals and the amount of work you're willing to put in are the two critical factors.

You didn't mention whether this is classical or non classical piano. Is the experience you mentioned on the trumpet or piano? "White house" pianist meaning? What is your present level on piano, approximate age, and why do you want to get virtuoso technique?

Many think slow practice is important but this also means many different things to different people. I don't think anyone believes slow practice solves everything.

You will probably get as many different answers to some of your questions as you get replies. The range of knowledge of people responding will be very great. Most of the issues you raised are not black or white. That is why the teacher you select is absolutely critical.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/08/13 06:57 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
You cannot control talent so in terms of doing the best with what you have it's irrelevant.


Yeah, you also can't control being a mathematical genius either.

OP didn't ask about doing the best with what you have. His post specifically deals with virtuosity. To become a virtuoso, one must be born with the necessary talent. Without this talent, no matter how dedicated, it is impossible to achieve such status.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/08/13 07:07 PM

I think there might be some discrepancies in the way people are thinking of the word "virtuosity". Surely "virtuoso" means more than someone with technical ability, which might be what is implied by the OP's "virtuosity". Don't know whether that made any sense. grin
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/08/13 07:14 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
I think there might be some discrepancies in the way people are thinking of the word "virtuosity". Surely "virtuoso" means more than someone with technical ability, which might be what is implied by the OP's "virtuosity". Don't know whether that made any sense. grin


As in musical virtuosity?
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/08/13 07:15 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
You cannot control talent so in terms of doing the best with what you have it's irrelevant.


Yeah, you also can't control being a mathematical genius either.

OP didn't ask about doing the best with what you have. His post specifically deals with virtuosity. To become a virtuoso, one must be born with the necessary talent. Without this talent, no matter how dedicated, it is impossible to achieve such status.
The OP didn't have to specifically say he meant about doing the best with what you have because this self evident from his post. He wants to get virtuoso technique and wants to know the best way for him to do this. He can't do anything about his talent so it's irrelevant in terms of what he can do.

If he had asked about his chances of succeeding in gaining a virtuoso technique many, including me, would say that talent is very important.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/08/13 07:30 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
I think there might be some discrepancies in the way people are thinking of the word "virtuosity". Surely "virtuoso" means more than someone with technical ability, which might be what is implied by the OP's "virtuosity". Don't know whether that made any sense. grin


As in musical virtuosity?


Well, it seems more like technical virtuosity from the context of the thread. smile
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/08/13 07:31 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
You cannot control talent so in terms of doing the best with what you have it's irrelevant.


Yeah, you also can't control being a mathematical genius either.

OP didn't ask about doing the best with what you have. His post specifically deals with virtuosity. To become a virtuoso, one must be born with the necessary talent. Without this talent, no matter how dedicated, it is impossible to achieve such status.
The OP didn't have to specifically say he meant about doing the best with what you have because this self evident from his post. He wants to get virtuoso technique and wants to know the best way for him to do this. He can't do anything about his talent so it's irrelevant in terms of what he can do.

If he had asked about his chances of succeeding in gaining a virtuoso technique many, including me, would say that talent is very important.


I see. It seems you and I both would agree that the problem lies in the way the OP is asking this question. He should be asking "What is the best way to maximize my abilities?" instead of "How do I become a virtuoso?" because the second question assumes that he does in fact have the necessary talent.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/08/13 07:33 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
You cannot control talent so in terms of doing the best with what you have it's irrelevant.


Yeah, you also can't control being a mathematical genius either.

OP didn't ask about doing the best with what you have. His post specifically deals with virtuosity. To become a virtuoso, one must be born with the necessary talent. Without this talent, no matter how dedicated, it is impossible to achieve such status.
The OP didn't have to specifically say he meant about doing the best with what you have because this self evident from his post. He wants to get virtuoso technique and wants to know the best way for him to do this. He can't do anything about his talent so it's irrelevant in terms of what he can do.

If he had asked about his chances of succeeding in gaining a virtuoso technique many, including me, would say that talent is very important.


I agree.

He had better hope he has the talent for it, shouldn't he?

In fact, I think this thread is a little silly. When you combine Pianoloverus's point with mine, it makes sense that OP should be asking "What is the best way to maximize my abilities?" instead of "How do I become a virtuoso?" because the second question assumes that he does in fact have the necessary talent.


Seems logical. This thread seems to be going nowhere anyway, so it will probably be locked soon enough by some mod or other...
Posted by: Damon

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/08/13 07:47 PM

Squirrel
Posted by: King Cole

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/08/13 08:05 PM

You guys always do this. Talent is a term that has a problematic definition so we won't deal with that. Let's just assume he or she has a non-remarkable amount of talent. So the question is:


What is the best way to maximize one's piano abilities?!?

(Thank you JoelW)
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/08/13 08:25 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
I think there might be some discrepancies in the way people are thinking of the word "virtuosity". Surely "virtuoso" means more than someone with technical ability, which might be what is implied by the OP's "virtuosity". Don't know whether that made any sense. grin


As in musical virtuosity?


Well, it seems more like technical virtuosity from the context of the thread. smile
Virtuosity is almost exclusively used in relation to technique. The title of the thread and the OP's first post also made it clear how he was using this word.
Posted by: Tak-Shing Chan

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/08/13 09:22 PM

According to Anders Ericsson: 10,000 hours of deliberate practice (plus genetic factors).
Posted by: rocket88

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/08/13 09:28 PM


Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/08/13 09:45 PM

Originally Posted By: Damon
Squirrel


Huh? What do rodents have to do with piano technique?
Posted by: loiollin

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/08/13 09:59 PM

Talent is a term that has a problematic definition so we won't deal with that.
Posted by: heathermphotog

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/08/13 10:26 PM

Originally Posted By: Damon
Squirrel


grin ha
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/08/13 10:36 PM

Originally Posted By: King Cole
You guys always do this. Talent is a term that has a problematic definition so we won't deal with that. Let's just assume he or she has a non-remarkable amount of talent. So the question is:


What is the best way to maximize one's piano abilities?!?

(Thank you JoelW)


Some random thoughts:

Practice a LOT.

(Actually, this is the same regardless of how much talent someone has.)

The real question is how people practice. And here, the answer lies less in what you do and more in how you think while practicing. When you're practicing, you have to keep an open ear and open mind. You have to invent exercises and motions for yourself. One of the most popular pieces of advice is "slow practice," and that's excellent advice, but it's very possible to practice slowly and get absolutely nothing done.

The reason slow practice works is because it affords people the opportunity to listen carefully to the sounds and feel and refine the motions they're making at the piano.

Developing one's musicianship and technique is a *CREATIVE ACTIVITY*. You have to have imagination and be observant.

Beyond that, you also need to spend time at the piano. Lots of it. You have to sit at the piano for hours and hours and hours and work on stuff. It's nice when it's efficient, but you have to do it even when you're not being efficient. Tired? Tough. Arms hurt? Figure out what you're doing wrong and fix it. Stuck? Get advice from a teacher. Just finished up a fantastic 6 hour practice session. Good for you; do it again tomorrow, the next day, and the next day.

It's also about habit. If you rely on passion or liking your repertoire to fuel your practice, you'll never make it. Nobody is 100% passionate about everything they're playing all the time. If you want to develop a great technique, then you have to be able to work *EVEN WHEN YOU DON'T WANT TO*. (This is true for most complex endeavors - I don't know a single successful lawyer, doctor, scientist, writer, visual artist, or businessman who didn't spend a significant amount of time working when they didn't want to. You work for the goal, not because it's fun every moment.

Put another way, it's easy to fall in love with a Rachmaninoff concerto and make big plans to do "whatever it takes" to learn it. It's much, much, MUCH harder to keep working when the honeymoon period is over (this is why self-taught amateurs tend to fail and one of the reasons a teacher is so important. A good teacher and weekly lessons gives you an incentive and reason to practice even when you don't want to. Contrary to popular belief, having a teacher isn't just about the advice they give, it's about inspiration and accountability.)

Hope there's something interesting in all of that. Happy practicing! laugh
Posted by: mermilylumpkin

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/08/13 11:21 PM

I think practice habits are important. If practicing 2 - 3 hours a day, for-real practice, is just part of your routine and it's something you do whatever else comes up and however much excited or frustrated you feel about your music, then you just end up getting stuff done in the long term.

Set aside that block of time and steel yourself for working through some challenges and you'll probably see results. Larry Bird had a great three point shot, and probably one of the reasons his shot was so good is because he spent 2 hours each day making the shot from different angles on the three point line. Like, try for shot, try again, make shot, move 2 inches, try for shot again.

I'm not an expert on virtuoso technique, but there's a reason the greats tout slow practice. And scales and arpeggios. It's not rocket science, but it is lots and lots of hours of serious work. And playing from an earnest inner place. To me, real greatness is just a big brew of hard work and a spiritual human lightness thing shining through because you have the technical tools to be able to express yourself and the humanity to have something meaningful to say and share with the world.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/08/13 11:36 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
OP didn't ask about doing the best with what you have. His post specifically deals with virtuosity. To become a virtuoso, one must be born with the necessary talent. Without this talent, no matter how dedicated, it is impossible to achieve such status.

I thought the OP clearly obviously unquestionably beyond the shadow of a doubt certainly meant what you thought, not the other thing that some people are saying, and that's what I still think -- unless he didn't, and then I don't. ha
Posted by: ChopinAddict

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/09/13 12:01 AM

He did say "virtuoso", which in itself of course is the thing that you and Joel say. However it is possible that he meant what the others said.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/09/13 12:06 AM

Originally Posted By: ChopinAddict
He did say "virtuoso", which in itself of course is the thing that you and Joel say. However it is possible that he meant what the others said.

Well then it's also possible he meant becoming a hairdresser, or dermatologist, or centerfielder.... grin

Let's take a look....

Quote:
What are the most effective ways to obtain virtuoso technique???

It's hard for me to see that as meaning anything but what Joel thought. Especially because of the triple ??? question marks and !!! exclamation marks. grin
Posted by: ChopinAddict

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/09/13 12:27 AM

I have met MANY people in real life who don't know what virtuoso really means and just think it means very good/outstanding.
(See also Polyphonist's post.)
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/09/13 12:32 AM

Originally Posted By: ChopinAddict
I have met MANY people in real life who don't know what virtuoso really means and just think it means very good.....

And it even sounds like you're not kidding.... grin

Sounds pretty odd.
Posted by: ChopinAddict

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/09/13 12:33 AM

I have just noticed that the OP later clarified what he meant:

What is the best way to maximize one's piano abilities?!?
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/09/13 12:36 AM

Originally Posted By: ChopinAddict
I have just noticed that the OP later clarified what he meant:

What is the best way to maximize one's piano abilities?!?

OK!
Just goes to show that one word says it all: You never know. ha
Good job by everyone who got it right.

It's still hard for me to see how people could think "virtuoso" means that. But it is what it is. grin
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/09/13 01:13 AM

Ugh...every post these days seems to devolve into meta discussions and semantic sparring.

If there's one thing about virtuosi, it's that they'd rather practice than sit around thinking about what "virtuoso" means. smile
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/09/13 01:19 AM

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
....If there's one thing about virtuosi, it's that they'd rather practice than sit around thinking about what "virtuoso" means. smile

I didn't spend any time thinking about what it means -- I know what it means, and it's not this. ha
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/09/13 01:35 AM

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Ugh...every post these days seems to devolve into meta discussions and semantic sparring.

If there's one thing about virtuosi, it's that they'd rather practice than sit around thinking about what "virtuoso" means. smile


I agree with both of these statements

--

Guys, 'virtuoso' is not a word with room for interpretation. It's very specific.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/09/13 01:43 AM

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Ugh...every post these days seems to devolve into meta discussions and semantic sparring.

If there's one thing about virtuosi, it's that they'd rather practice than sit around thinking about what "virtuoso" means. smile

It depends on what your definition of "is" is.. grin

Oh, and thank you for the other, longer post. Couldn't have agreed more (or said it any better).

I will add one thought (in the form of one of my favorite quotes) that I think thrums through your post, but you didn't explicitly mention:

"In order to be great, you must first be willing to give up being good."

This idea underlines everything Kreisler said. It's not just about practice, but practicing correctly. It's not about being able to play a piece, but about finding that nuance and perfecting it. It's not about being able to play "almost" perfectly even, or "almost" at the right dynamic, or getting it right "almost" every time. It's about taking what's good, breaking it down, finding what's wrong, fixing it, and putting it all back together again to create something better. Then, you repeat. Repeat. Repeat as many times as it takes until you get to something great. (And then, the next level is--there is still something greater to aspire to.)

In this endeavor, one must always seek to improve not only one's technical ability, but also one's ability to develop and grow. This is a lifelong pursuit of perfection, an undertaking in which the bad news is, you will most assuredly fall short (because true perfection cannot be achieved). And you MUST love the journey to reach that goal (because you will never actually reach the goal). Will you love every step you take? No. The one in the muck, or the twisted ankle, you will not enjoy. But those setbacks won't stop you from taking another step, and another, until you run out of days with which you can take steps (throw in the quote in my signature line here).

So, to that end, you have taken an appropriate first step -- asking questions. The next step is to get your technique "right". And what I mean by that is simply this: ask yourself two questions:

1. Do I experience pain when I play?
2. Am I playing the way I would like to be playing?

If #1 is a yes, stop what you're doing and seek expert advice immediately. You may cause more damage than you know. #1 aside, if #2 is a no, then there is an issue with your technique that is causing it. Technique is built upon movement, so if there is a technique issue, that really means there is a movement issue.

It is impossible to describe every single movement you need to make, but there are some basic ones (up, down, left, right, in, out, axial left/right sometimes called "rotation", and axial up/down), and a good teacher will be able to help there.

So, in terms of concept, put the "big picture" in your head, and then drill down into each vertical to find the gaps. Once you've found them, close them by any means available to you. smile
Posted by: Bobpickle

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/09/13 02:11 AM

you have to work intelligently, obsessively, possibly as many four hours a day on just technical exercises (according to Sara Davis Buechner) or practice as many as 10-12 hours a day overall with a large percentage still on technique (various accounts of Liszt), and you have to be persistent

Originally Posted By: Calvin Coolidge
Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.


Originally Posted By: Nicolakirwan
In my life... I've learned that oftentimes brilliance comes from being able to see things from a different angle and how to figure out how it all comes together rather than just memorizing, learning by rote, and regurgitating what one has absorbed. Real learning is about figuring out how something works and engaging it in a way that makes it all make sense to you--breaking things down until they "click". The ability to do this, I believe, is very much a part of that amorphous concept of "talent" or "giftedness".


Originally Posted By: Claude Frank
There is absolutely no substitute for slow practice. Let me embellish this by saying that, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, this slow practice should be very musical. There are very few instances in which slow mechanical practice is beneficial. Musical slow practice is the key


Originally Posted By: Dr. Clay Hyght
When it comes to training (and life in general for that matter), many people erroneously think that all you have to do to succeed is work hard. Unfortunately, this isn't true. You have to work intelligently.


Originally Posted By: John McDonald
The cause of confusion prevailing in your mind, that weakens your thoughts, is the false belief that there is a power or powers outside of yourself, greater than the power within you.


Originally Posted By: recent Teodor post
The years you spent playing the piano mean nothing at all. How many days were there in those years when you actually sat down and had a nice concentrated mindful practice? Not that many I bet just like it is with me. If you did practice correctly (includes me) for these years you'd be playing difficult repertoire right now and that "advanced" arrangement of a piece would be the easiest piece you've ever seen.

Have you seen some of those kids that play terribly difficult pieces at age 7-8? Some younger? Well they practiced a lot and they practiced correctly. Someone was there to guide them and show them the way then they liked it so much that they kept at it constantly every single day for a few years. There is nothing very special about them EXCEPT the remarkable dedication that have at such an early age. We on the other hand, as adult learners, have so many other things in our mind that we cannot afford to become really obsessed and dedicated. If you have to balance school, piano and a job and God knows what other responsibilities, it's not easy at all. This is why it's crucial we learn how to best use what little time we have to play the piano and work at it.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/09/13 03:06 AM

Mr. Pickle, one of these days, I aspire to write something you quote in one of these posts. grin
Posted by: GeorgeB

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/09/13 04:53 AM

This might not make any sense...

Practising slowly has no effect if you aren't "careful".

For me, practising slowly is like practising fast but in slow motion.
This might sound obvious but I will try to explain.
When you play a piece fast, you don't have time to make big movements for example: shifting hand positions and picking up fingers way too high.
So summing it up: you need to be aware of the speed you're going to play the piece at, so that you can be economical with your movements when practising slowly as that will make a difference when you play it up to speed.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/09/13 08:53 AM

I think many of the last 20 or so posts have all but forgotten about the need for a great teacher to explain/teach technique. Although the OP still hasn't even told us about his present level, my impressions is he may be a relative beginner on the piano, and that means there is tons for him to be taught about technique in order for any practice he does to be on the right kind of things as opposed to being highly inefficient or even a waste of time.
Posted by: chopin_r_us

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/09/13 10:51 AM

Start at age 4.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/09/13 11:25 AM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think many of the last 20 or so posts have all but forgotten about the need for a great teacher to explain/teach technique. Although the OP still hasn't even told us about his present level, my impressions is he may be a relative beginner on the piano, and that means there is tons for him to be taught about technique in order for any practice he does to be on the right kind of things as opposed to being highly inefficient or even a waste of time.

I don't think it's a requirement, but it certainly is a catalyst that acts both as an accelerant, and to vastly improve your chances of success.

PS, did you miss where I wrote this:
Quote:
It is impossible to describe every single movement you need to make, but there are some basic ones (up, down, left, right, in, out, axial left/right sometimes called "rotation", and axial up/down), and a good teacher will be able to help there.

grin
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/09/13 11:56 AM

My take on the teacher issue:

I've met a lot of pianists in my life, and the number of expert pianists I've met who did not have regular instruction at some point in their lives is Zero.

A lot of amateurs seem to believe that they can get the same thing a teacher could give them from various sources on the internet - here, YouTube, whatever, but in 10 years of reading these forums, not once has a self-taught pianist posted a video of themselves demonstrating expert level well-rounded musicianship. Occasionally someone will have shoved the notes of some fairly difficult piece into their hands by brute force and repetition, but that's about it. (Not to minimize the feat - it's impressive to learn a bravura arrangement of Final Fantasy or whatever, but cramming one piece into your hands doesn't make you a pianist any more than my installing my own car battery and headlights makes me a mechanic.)
Posted by: Hakki

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/09/13 12:26 PM

King Cole:

SPECIFIC answer here.

1 - First, play and video record your hands and feet (to see your use of the pedal) while playing the Piano I part (first 2 pages and the first few bars of page 3) of the following score in tempo. You MUST play it on an acoustic piano AND the piano MUST be a tuned/regulated piano. (good quality audio and video please)

http://imslp.org/wiki/Special:ImagefromIndex/01173

2 - Post this recorded video of yours here.

3 - I will watch your playing and then give you the SPECIFIC answer that will make you a VIRTUOSO.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/09/13 12:38 PM

Cole: ^^ You might need to know Hakki a little bit to interpret that post properly. ^^ grin
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/09/13 12:57 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
I don't think it's a requirement, but it certainly is a catalyst that acts both as an accelerant, and to vastly improve your chances of success.

PS, did you miss where I wrote this:
Quote:
It is impossible to describe every single movement you need to make, but there are some basic ones (up, down, left, right, in, out, axial left/right sometimes called "rotation", and axial up/down), and a good teacher will be able to help there.

grin
I think that a good teacher goes beyond being a help. I think to develop virtuoso technique extensive technical instruction from the highest level teachers is virtually required and almost no pianist with great technique has achieved this without this extensive technical foundation through a teacher's instruction. The only great pianist of whom I'm aware who may have been almost completely self taught was Godowsky.

IMO one of the main reasons there were/are so many Russian pianists with supreme technique is that many or most of these pianists began at a very early age being drilled by the best teachers in the systematic Russian school of playing.

Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/09/13 02:25 PM

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
My take on the teacher issue:

I've met a lot of pianists in my life, and the number of expert pianists I've met who did not have regular instruction at some point in their lives is Zero.

A lot of amateurs seem to believe that they can get the same thing a teacher could give them from various sources on the internet - here, YouTube, whatever, but in 10 years of reading these forums, not once has a self-taught pianist posted a video of themselves demonstrating expert level well-rounded musicianship. Occasionally someone will have shoved the notes of some fairly difficult piece into their hands by brute force and repetition, but that's about it. (Not to minimize the feat - it's impressive to learn a bravura arrangement of Final Fantasy or whatever, but cramming one piece into your hands doesn't make you a pianist any more than my installing my own car battery and headlights makes me a mechanic.)

Which is why I'm so desperately in need a teacher! It's very difficult to improve once on is on their own...
Posted by: RachelEDNC

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/09/13 08:15 PM

Originally Posted By: King Cole
However, I have decided to pursue my favorite instrument about 5 months ago as I am taking lessons from a former white house pianist so with all this I am not a musical novice. I've played with symphonic orchestras, jazz bands, solos and done accompaniments etc.


Have you played piano with orchestras, etc? Or are you referring to trumpet?

I am asking to try and get more of an idea of your level. I am guessing trumpet, since you say you have played piano for about 5 months. More on that later...

Your teacher, is he/she a classically trained pianist? Just because someone has played in the White House does not mean they are a good teacher. I would try and find a classically trained teacher who can guide you. I have seen many jazz/popular pianists who know nothing about technique. They can get around the notes pretty well, but that won't get you to where you want to be. When looking for a teacher, find someone who can tell you how to correct what you are doing wrong. They can tell you the movement that is involved in this, and a few different ways to practice to achieve that movement. If a potential teacher says to you, play it like this and just demonstrates with no further guidance- RUN!

Originally Posted By: King Cole
What are the most effective ways to obtain virtuoso technique???


This depends on the person. (And why I was asking about your level at piano.) If you have played trumpet for even decades, you are still probably only comfortable reading one clef at a time. You need to be doing lots of easier reading pieces to build up your ability to read two clefs at once. It is no use to slave away at one Chopin etude and not be able to apply those techniques to anything else. (This is just repeating what many other posters have said already).

IMO, you need to work on simultaneously building up your technique and reading ability. Get an appropriate method book and start going through it for reading. For technique, do scales/arpeggios. I hate to beat a dead horse, but this is where a knowledgeable teacher comes into play. Someone needs to show you what a thumb pass is, and other basic technical things. Know that one book of technical exercises will not suffice to cover the reading. A lot of exercises like Hanon will not challenge your reading ability that much. They are very patterned and not geared towards helping you become a better reader. On the other hand, many technical exercises that are meant to be more musical (Czerny 821 for example) would be too difficult for you to read to gain any significant technical benefits. This goes back to needing a method book with appropriate reading pieces.

Originally Posted By: King Cole
What is the most efficient way to improve via practice time?

I think a lot of the things you mentioned in your examples you gave for how to achieve virtuosic technique are all correct, and this is maybe why you are confused on what to do. You need slow practice. You need fast practice (but more slow, haha). You need some metronome practice. You need lots of repetitions. You need scales, you need hands alone/together. You need lots of repertoire. There is not an quick fix or straight-forward way to getting to be a virtuoso. You have heard several different paths because it is a combination of all these things that will help you. If you could sit down and play through Hanon from mind numbingly slow to fast and be a virtuoso- well a virtuoso wouldn't be that special because many more pianists would have reached that goal.

As to how long this would take? I don't know. I put in 6 hour days at least a few days out of the week (still practicing multiple hours on those other days) and have been doing so for a few years. I am not a virtuoso. It is dependent on the person. How long would it take for you to be proud of your accomplishments? Work your butt off for a month and I bet you will be happy and motivated to do it for another month...and another, and another.



Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/10/13 05:10 AM

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
It's very difficult to improve once one is on their own...


I'm a bit ambivalent about that, since I like to imagine that I have improved on my own. Not that it's been exactly easy, and not that it might not have gone faster and better with a teacher, but still, I sense some real improvement.

And too, it makes a big difference where one is to begin with. There were so many obvious areas of improvement for me that it was a relatively easy matter of just choosing something and getting to work on it. I knew what was needed, and I had a pretty good idea of how to proceed.

And having PW as a sort of backdrop has helped - a lot of good ideas get bandied about, some of which I have applied directly in my practice. Sometimes it is just getting reinforcement of things I already know, but maybe haven't used as much as I could...practicing in rhythms, for example.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/10/13 05:18 AM

I'm a bit ambivalent about that, since I like to imagine that I have improved on my own. Not that it's been exactly easy, and not that it might not have gone faster and better with a teacher, but still, I sense some real improvement.

Deadlines I've found are a great motivator.
Posted by: hotcat

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/10/13 03:30 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
[quote=pianoloverus]To become a virtuoso, one must be born with the necessary talent. Without this talent, no matter how dedicated, it is impossible to achieve such status.


Is there any way of knowing if one has the requisite talent to become a virtuoso? Or does one just forge ahead? I've wondered this a lot. I know that I've got some talent, and I work really hard, and I steadily improve. But at some point will my talent "run out"? Will I just hit a pleateau someday and stop getting any better? I hope not...
Posted by: King Cole

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/10/13 04:55 PM

I must say a lot of people want to know what level I am and as I said I've started 5 months ago so the skill level should be obvious and I'm not going to post any video of me just yet. Compared to my trumpet skills I feel like a clumsy kid on the keys and yes RachelEDNC I had trouble reading bass clef for a couple months but now only the really high and low notes take more than milliseconds to interpret thanks to some iphone apps and drills.

I have a teacher and he's an accomplished pianist. He hasn't taught much about body/finger movements some thumb under etc but he's persistent in that there is no perfect fingering and alluded to the fact that Chopin used his third finger like his thumb (This he learned when he studied at that Chopin institute place where he played from several of his original manuscripts). He stresses creativity and expression. He says he doesn't want me to play like him and that I have to find my own voice. He also says he hates judging these days because they are lessening the role of expression in grading and focusing more on technique. I was stunned but after some time I saw its merits of what he ways saying. He even played Chopin's op.9 no.2 regular than he played it with waves and waves of clever arpeggios, pauses etc., giving a overwhelming grandiose sound, it was stunning. I digress.

I agree with many of you in that you need a teacher especially one that'll push you and keep you accountable.

Originally Posted By: Kreisler

Occasionally someone will have shoved the notes of some fairly difficult piece into their hands by brute force and repetition, but that's about it. (Not to minimize the feat - it's impressive to learn a bravura arrangement of Final Fantasy or whatever, but cramming one piece into your hands doesn't make you a pianist any more than my installing my own car battery and headlights makes me a mechanic.)


Persistence seems to be common theme.

Kreisler I must say you have been the most insightful especially in that previous post. This last comment does raise questions however. If "..brute force and repetition" has proven to work with an amateur is that not the recipe to become a "pianist"? And when does one consider himself/herself a pianist?

Hopefully more posts will keeping coming in but a revelation I'm having is that a virtuoso is someone that can do it all and to do it all you have to practice it all. So what are those skills that one should be proficient in? Obviously sight-reading but what about improvisation? What about ability to perform new techniques? For instance if I say arpeggiate the F dim 7 chord and E major (octave) chord at the same time should they be able to do it at a blistering speed at first try?

It seems that this guy can probably do it all... lol. How long does it take to get this good? <-- Not a serious question
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/10/13 06:13 PM

Originally Posted By: King Cole
I have a teacher and he's an accomplished pianist. He hasn't taught much about body/finger movements some thumb under etc but he's persistent in that there is no perfect fingering and alluded to the fact that Chopin used his third finger like his thumb (This he learned when he studied at that Chopin institute place where he played from several of his original manuscripts). He stresses creativity and expression.
You want to learn technique at a high level and it seems like your teacher doesn't give you much in that area.
Originally Posted By: King Cole
Kreisler I must say you have been the most insightful especially in that previous post. This last comment does raise questions however. If "..brute force and repetition" has proven to work with an amateur is that not the recipe to become a "pianist"? And when does one consider himself/herself a pianist?
I think you misundertood Kreisler's post.

He said brute force and repetition might work on one piece. (And the piece he mentioned was really far from what most would call a virtuoso level.) Most would say that in order to play more than one or a few difficult pieces within a normal lifespan one has to develop an overall virtuoso technique. Unless I misunderstood Kreisler's post he said that it take more than repetition and persistence. You need to find an excellent teacher.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/10/13 06:42 PM

Originally Posted By: hotcat
Originally Posted By: JoelW
[quote=pianoloverus]To become a virtuoso, one must be born with the necessary talent. Without this talent, no matter how dedicated, it is impossible to achieve such status.


Is there any way of knowing if one has the requisite talent to become a virtuoso? Or does one just forge ahead? I've wondered this a lot. I know that I've got some talent, and I work really hard, and I steadily improve. But at some point will my talent "run out"? Will I just hit a pleateau someday and stop getting any better? I hope not...

"Talent" is the byproduct of "work". The harder you work, the greater "talent" you will have.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/10/13 06:55 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux

"Talent" is the byproduct of "work". The harder you work, the greater "talent" you will have.


I'm sorry but this is horrendously false. You're confusing talent with skill. Talent is simply the natural ability to do something. Skill is the product of talent + hard work.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/10/13 07:15 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: hotcat
Originally Posted By: JoelW
[quote=pianoloverus]To become a virtuoso, one must be born with the necessary talent. Without this talent, no matter how dedicated, it is impossible to achieve such status.


Is there any way of knowing if one has the requisite talent to become a virtuoso? Or does one just forge ahead? I've wondered this a lot. I know that I've got some talent, and I work really hard, and I steadily improve. But at some point will my talent "run out"? Will I just hit a pleateau someday and stop getting any better? I hope not...

"Talent" is the byproduct of "work". The harder you work, the greater "talent" you will have.
I think talent is almost exclusively used to mean ability that is innate and independent of work. I think just checking in a dictionary will verify this.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/10/13 08:22 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Derulux

"Talent" is the byproduct of "work". The harder you work, the greater "talent" you will have.
I'm sorry but this is horrendously false. You're confusing talent with skill. Talent is simply the natural ability to do something. Skill is the product of talent + hard work.

Yes.

And sometimes there's even a certain level of skill without talent. grin

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think talent is almost exclusively used to mean ability that is innate and independent of work. I think just checking in a dictionary will verify this.

Yes.

IMO a lot of this discussion isn't caring about definitions and meanings. That's OK, as long as people don't care about definitions and meanings. bah
Posted by: King Cole

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/10/13 08:27 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

You want to learn technique at a high level and it seems like your teacher doesn't give you much in that area.


Now this is my first piano teacher so I can't measure him against anyone else, but he seems like a great teacher who is more concerned with helping me find the genius that lies within me and he seems to have a plethora of experience in teaching others although I think a lot of his other students are much more advanced than me (for the time being). Would a teacher really go through every single motion of the finger, forearm and shoulder? What does it mean to teach technique other than the obvious stuff?

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think you misundertood Kreisler's post.

He said brute force and repetition might work on one piece. (And the piece he mentioned was really far from what most would call a virtuoso level.) Most would say that in order to play more than one or a few difficult pieces within a normal lifespan one has to develop an overall virtuoso technique. Unless I misunderstood Kreisler's post he said that it take more than repetition and persistence. You need to find an excellent teacher.


So repetition and persistence wouldn't work for someone who used it successfully on one piece already? It seems to me if that person in question continued that trend with subsequent pieces they would become more and more proficient.

But Pianoloverus since it seems like you are a seasoned veteran, if you had a student just starting out who practiced 4 hours a day what would their ideal practice breakdown look like knowing everything that you know now because I understand that a teacher is essential to success but most of the time a student is not with his or her teacher. Indeed most of the time that student is alone with the piano!
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/10/13 08:58 PM

If you want to get a big technique you should get a teacher who will teach you technique from the beginning. There is technique involved in playing even the simplest pieces or even a single note. Not all teachers will do this, and it's probably not appropriate for every student but it's what you want. I think the best chance of developing a big technique is by studying with a teacher who explains the correct movements of the fingers, wrist, and arms from the beginning.

If you watch most of the best pianists I think one can see there are basic movements that most of them do despite any differences in their technical approaches. I also think it's obvious that most of these pianists were trained from an early age how to do these movements.

For example:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InXYHOLEbSE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eL8rPM3Kl2w
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/10/13 09:45 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: hotcat
Originally Posted By: JoelW
[quote=pianoloverus]To become a virtuoso, one must be born with the necessary talent. Without this talent, no matter how dedicated, it is impossible to achieve such status.


Is there any way of knowing if one has the requisite talent to become a virtuoso? Or does one just forge ahead? I've wondered this a lot. I know that I've got some talent, and I work really hard, and I steadily improve. But at some point will my talent "run out"? Will I just hit a pleateau someday and stop getting any better? I hope not...

"Talent" is the byproduct of "work". The harder you work, the greater "talent" you will have.
I think talent is almost exclusively used to mean ability that is innate and independent of work. I think just checking in a dictionary will verify this.

I'm using your post, but in response to both you and Joel:

Find me someone who has all the talent in the world, but has never touched a piano, and then have that person play the Rach 3 note-perfect in time with a proper orchestra, and then I will agree that hard work has nothing to do with it. wink

To me, "talent" is an overused term by those who, by choice or by accident, do not work hard enough or correctly enough to get where it is they want to go.

I'm going to use a quote Bobpickle posted up a few days ago about a completely different subject, but ironically enough, I think it fits here:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”
--Calvin Coolidge

I agree with the former president. Unless you're missing a hand, in which case, playing with two hands is out of your realm of possibility, there are only two ways to get where you want to go (and/or to reach the pinnacle of your endeavor): hard work and persistence.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/10/13 10:56 PM

Quote:
To me, "talent" is an overused term by those who, by choice or by accident, do not work hard enough or correctly enough to get where it is they want to go.


But it's not a "to me" kind of word. It's objective with a specific meaning.

Quote:
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”


Nobody is arguing that if you have talent, you don't need to work hard. That's obviously not true. One's level of talent is their capacity for potential skill. If someone isn't born with the necessary talent for become a world-class virtuoso, no amount of blood, sweat and tears will change that.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/10/13 11:10 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Derulux
To me, "talent" is an overused term by those who, by choice or by accident, do not work hard enough or correctly enough to get where it is they want to go.


But it's not a "to me" kind of word. It's objective with a specific meaning.

But it isn't, really. I really hate getting into semantics, but if you look up "talent" in the dictionary (which pianoloverus seemed to think would be necessary, so I did it), you get everything from, "a capacity for achievement or success," to "natural ability".

I argue that there is no such thing as "natural ability". There is only "ability". That is, you are capable of doing what you have already done. No one sits down at the piano and, through sheer natural talent, plays Liszt on day one. You learn, you work hard, then you do well.

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Derulux
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”


Nobody is arguing that if you have talent, you don't need to work hard. That's obviously not true. One's level of talent is their capacity for potential skill. If someone isn't born with the necessary talent for become a world-class virtuoso, no amount of blood, sweat and tears will change that.

I'm not sure if this is in response to the Coolidge quote or not. If it is, I'm not sure you followed what Coolidge was saying. He is saying that "talent" and "genius" are meaningless. Only hard work and persistence will achieve results.

So, in order to debunk the theory, we must find some people who are highly successful, but have no talent. The trouble is, success is so often defined by and closely associated with talent, that we see successful people as talented in their field, and hence cannot find this separation. Why? Because there is absolutely no measure of talent in existence. We can't measure potential. It's not possible. We can only measure results. So, it is impossible to separate "talent" from "results".

We can, however, find plenty of "talented" people who never made it, who were never successful, who could have done anything but didn't. So, there, we can prove that "talent" is certainly not nearly as important as hard work and persistence. Can we completely deny it? No, for the reasons I pointed out earlier.

But if you're looking for a way to acquire a skill set, you're much better off counting on hard work and persistence--because they pay off.
Posted by: Mwm

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/10/13 11:42 PM

Why has no one here spoken about natural musical ability? There is no point in playing the piano if you have no innate musicality. Playing notes fast in a virtuosic manner is just a matter of practice, lots of it. But why bother, if your playing sounds like [censored] because it is mechanical. Talent, in the case of a person attempting to be a musician, is inborn. You either have it, or you don't. No amount of persistence, hard work, and years of practice will make a silk purse out of a cow's ear. You may become a virtuoso piano player, but you will never be a pianist.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/10/13 11:43 PM

Talent is important. Work is even more important. I think we're all agreed on this point. You can't be successful with one and not the other.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/10/13 11:46 PM

Originally Posted By: Mwm
Why has no one here spoken about natural musical ability?....

Lots of us have.
I think that's essentially what we take "talent" to mean.

Perhaps some of us view talent as also including natural physical ability. But to me, it's mostly what you said up there, and I'd guess it is so for most who've emphasized talent.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 06:41 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: hotcat
Originally Posted By: JoelW
[quote=pianoloverus]To become a virtuoso, one must be born with the necessary talent. Without this talent, no matter how dedicated, it is impossible to achieve such status.


Is there any way of knowing if one has the requisite talent to become a virtuoso? Or does one just forge ahead? I've wondered this a lot. I know that I've got some talent, and I work really hard, and I steadily improve. But at some point will my talent "run out"? Will I just hit a pleateau someday and stop getting any better? I hope not...

"Talent" is the byproduct of "work". The harder you work, the greater "talent" you will have.
I think talent is almost exclusively used to mean ability that is innate and independent of work. I think just checking in a dictionary will verify this.

I'm using your post, but in response to both you and Joel:

Find me someone who has all the talent in the world, but has never touched a piano, and then have that person play the Rach 3 note-perfect in time with a proper orchestra, and then I will agree that hard work has nothing to do with it. wink

To me, "talent" is an overused term by those who, by choice or by accident, do not work hard enough or correctly enough to get where it is they want to go.

I'm going to use a quote Bobpickle posted up a few days ago about a completely different subject, but ironically enough, I think it fits here:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”
--Calvin Coolidge

I agree with the former president. Unless you're missing a hand, in which case, playing with two hands is out of your realm of possibility, there are only two ways to get where you want to go (and/or to reach the pinnacle of your endeavor): hard work and persistence.
You're arguing against something that wasn't said. No one has said that hard work has nothing to do with being able to play the piano at at high level. No one has said that talent alone was sufficient. What I and others said was that talent and hard work are separate and that just using the dictionary will verify this.

Many, but not all, would say that without great talent it is very hard or impossible to reach the highest level even with great persistence and excellent teaching, but that is a separate issue.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 06:47 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux

We can, however, find plenty of "talented" people who never made it, who were never successful, who could have done anything but didn't. So, there, we can prove that "talent" is certainly not nearly as important as hard work and persistence. Can we completely deny it? No, for the reasons I pointed out earlier.
This simply means talent is not alone sufficient.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 07:07 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
I really hate getting into semantics, but if you look up "talent" in the dictionary (which pianoloverus seemed to think would be necessary, so I did it), you get everything from, "a capacity for achievement or success," to "natural ability".
I think both those definitions indicate talent is viewed as innate.

Originally Posted By: Derulux
I argue that there is no such thing as "natural ability". There is only "ability". That is, you are capable of doing what you have already done. No one sits down at the piano and, through sheer natural talent, plays Liszt on day one. You learn, you work hard, then you do well.
But "natural ability" is very common English usage. If you are only capable of doing what you've already done no one could do anything for the first time. The most talented are capable of learning and progressing much faster than less talented. That is why most of the great pianists were playing so well at such a young age. Even if they started very young and practiced at lot they didn't have time to put in enough hours so that the hours alone could result in their incredibly fast progress.

No one said, as per your example of playing Liszt, that talent allows one to instantly play anything. No one says talent alone is sufficient. But some would say that talent allows one to progress much faster nad further than others with less talent.

Kissin is an example of clearly measurable talent at a young age. If you listen to Kissin talk about how he practiced as a child, it is amazing to hear how little he practiced in the beginning. Yet he, of course, progressed with phenomenal rapidity. He was singing the subjects from Bach Fugues his sister or mother were playing when he was two or three. When he was interviewed for the Gnessin school he was asked to do all kinds of things that only children with the greatest talent could do.

There are ways to test musical talent. If there wasn't how do you think schools like Gnessin decide who will be admitted?

Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 07:44 AM

The previous three posts are sound.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 09:02 AM

The previous 4 posts are sound. grin



BTW, music is sound.....most of the time anyway. ha
Posted by: Mwm

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 09:17 AM

Actually, the previous two posts are writing.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 11:47 AM

Originally Posted By: Mwm
Actually, the previous two posts are writing.


Yes they are.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 12:16 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: hotcat
Originally Posted By: JoelW
[quote=pianoloverus]To become a virtuoso, one must be born with the necessary talent. Without this talent, no matter how dedicated, it is impossible to achieve such status.


Is there any way of knowing if one has the requisite talent to become a virtuoso? Or does one just forge ahead? I've wondered this a lot. I know that I've got some talent, and I work really hard, and I steadily improve. But at some point will my talent "run out"? Will I just hit a pleateau someday and stop getting any better? I hope not...

"Talent" is the byproduct of "work". The harder you work, the greater "talent" you will have.
I think talent is almost exclusively used to mean ability that is innate and independent of work. I think just checking in a dictionary will verify this.

I'm using your post, but in response to both you and Joel:

Find me someone who has all the talent in the world, but has never touched a piano, and then have that person play the Rach 3 note-perfect in time with a proper orchestra, and then I will agree that hard work has nothing to do with it. wink

To me, "talent" is an overused term by those who, by choice or by accident, do not work hard enough or correctly enough to get where it is they want to go.

I'm going to use a quote Bobpickle posted up a few days ago about a completely different subject, but ironically enough, I think it fits here:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”
--Calvin Coolidge

I agree with the former president. Unless you're missing a hand, in which case, playing with two hands is out of your realm of possibility, there are only two ways to get where you want to go (and/or to reach the pinnacle of your endeavor): hard work and persistence.
You're arguing against something that wasn't said. No one has said that hard work has nothing to do with being able to play the piano at at high level. No one has said that talent alone was sufficient. What I and others said was that talent and hard work are separate and that just using the dictionary will verify this.

Many, but not all, would say that without great talent it is very hard or impossible to reach the highest level even with great persistence and excellent teaching, but that is a separate issue.

That's not my argument. My argument is that "talent" is a useless word to describe results, and not a clear measure of potential (which cannot, in fact, be measured). Therefore, "talent" is meaningless, and the only thing that matters is hard work and persistence.

If you can somehow develop a measure of talent, where no one in the history of the world has ever been able to do so, I should like to change my argument to be more agreeable with everyone else. smile
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 12:47 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
That's not my argument. My argument is that "talent" is a useless word to describe results, and not a clear measure of potential (which cannot, in fact, be measured). Therefore, "talent" is meaningless, and the only thing that matters is hard work and persistence.

If you can somehow develop a measure of talent, where no one in the history of the world has ever been able to do so, I should like to change my argument to be more agreeable with everyone else. smile
How do you think Gnessin auditions students?

Listen to this video about Kissin starting at 11:40 and you can hear about Kissin's audition at Gnessin.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MunHV8eYOcM

You can also hear about how little he practiced in the beginning of his studies despite his lightning progress. If that doesn't imply talent I don't know what does. Or listen at 19:30 about how at age of 11 months he sang the theme of a Bach fugue his sister was studying.

It sounds like you want some scientific measure of talent as if one was measuring temperature or speed. That doesn't apply to musical talent or any musical performance. But that doesn't mean most can't agree who has a great deal of talent.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 12:50 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Therefore, "talent" is meaningless, and the only thing that matters is hard work and persistence.


This is like saying there is no such thing as IQ, and thus anyone with enough work and persistence can learn and do anything.

It is hard to believe that anyone would think that to be true.

Certainly few if any piano teachers believe that talent is not an important factor in learning to play, and to play well.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 12:51 PM

Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Therefore, "talent" is meaningless, and the only thing that matters is hard work and persistence.


This is like saying there is no such thing as IQ, and thus anyone with enough work and persistence can learn and do anything.


I was going to make the same comparison. I'm glad you did. smile
Posted by: Hakki

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 12:53 PM

Originally Posted By: King Cole
I must say a lot of people want to know what level I am and as I said I've started 5 months ago so the skill level should be obvious and I'm not going to post any video of me just yet.


Oh, no ! You have just lost a LIFETIME opportunity to learn my secret of becoming a VIRTUOSO. ha
OK. Joking aside, it is good to see that you are realizing that your questions are not meaningful at such an early stage.


Originally Posted By: King Cole
It seems that this guy can probably do it all... lol. How long does it take to get this good? <-- Not a serious question


Now, first things first. The definition. What do we (I) understand from VIRTUOSITY ?
First of all this guy is not a virtuoso. As for your question, work hard for 6-8 years and you will be as good as him. The actual time will vary according to your TALENT and TEACHER.

Hope this helps.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 01:16 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Derulux
That's not my argument. My argument is that "talent" is a useless word to describe results, and not a clear measure of potential (which cannot, in fact, be measured). Therefore, "talent" is meaningless, and the only thing that matters is hard work and persistence.

If you can somehow develop a measure of talent, where no one in the history of the world has ever been able to do so, I should like to change my argument to be more agreeable with everyone else. smile
How do you think Gnessin auditions students?

Listen to this video about Kissin starting at 11:40 and you can hear about Kissin's audition at Gnessin.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MunHV8eYOcM

You can also hear about how little he practiced in the beginning of his studies despite his lightning progress. If that doesn't imply talent I don't know what does. Or listen at 19:30 about how at age of 11 months he sang the theme of a Bach fugue his sister was studying.

It sounds like you want some scientific measure of talent as if one was measuring temperature or speed. That doesn't apply to musical talent or any musical performance. But that doesn't mean most can't agree who has a great deal of talent.

Out of sheer good humor, I listened to Kissin speak about his audition. It is interesting what he says. If he had been speaking about measuring "talent", he would have said things like, "She recognized that I was capable of doing [x]." But what he said was, "I was doing many interesting things, playing the Nutcracker, the 3rd Chopin Ballade, improvising. She would ask me to improvise about the dark forest and then about the bright sun, and then she would ask me to repeat what I had just played and I wouldn't be able to. I wouldn't remember anything. She wouldn't believe this, and would ask me to play another waltz or another march, and I would play something completely different."

I'm sorry to disappoint you, but absolutely none of this measures talent. It measures ability. Ability to put out what you've worked so hard for, and persisted so long at, developing.

Case in point: the closest thing in the world to measuring "talent" is called an IQ test. However, an IQ test doesn't measure what you are capable of learning (which would be true "talent"), it only measures what you have already learned on an average scale of how fast you may have learned it. If you were to ask any psychologist, they will tell you that the IQ test is insufficient to measure exactly what it was designed to measure, because what they are trying to measure cannot, in fact, be measured.

I'll use physics. Take "potential" energy, which is, for all intents and purposes, the "talent" of an unmoving object. (Closest thing to a "talented rock" I can think of.) You don't measure the rock's "potential". What you measure is, if the rock starts moving, how far it is capable of going and with what force. So, you can't even measure a rock's "talent".

"Talent" is an excuse. Like the rock, we measure how far a person goes. We measure what they've worked hard and persisted to achieve, and if they become Evgeny Kissin, we say, "Oh, my! That person is incredibly talented!" But if they don't, we say, "Oh, it's okay. That person wasn't talented enough to get there."

Quote:
If that doesn't imply talent I don't know what does.

Two thousand years ago, a thunderstorm would ravage the Greek coast, and lightning would destroy a village. If that doesn't imply that Zeus (and the other gods) exist, I don't know what does. wink

Quote:
It sounds like you want some scientific measure of talent as if one was measuring temperature or speed. That doesn't apply to musical talent or any musical performance. But that doesn't mean most can't agree who has a great deal of talent.

If you can't measure it, then it either doesn't exist or we don't understand its principles well enough yet to define it properly.

Originally Posted By: rocket88
This is like saying there is no such thing as IQ, and thus anyone with enough work and persistence can learn and do anything.

I was HOPING someone would bring that up! Unfortunately, my patience wore out before I got to your post.. haha laugh See above. I actually just addressed this. smile
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 01:21 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Therefore, "talent" is meaningless, and the only thing that matters is hard work and persistence.

This comes up in one guise or another every now and then. Taken to its logical conclusion, if all that mattered was hard work and persistence, then anyone could potentially be a Kissin.

Yet we know it doesn't work that way, and I find it extraordinary that Derulux -whose posts I generally admire- really believes that... or perhaps I'm just misinterpreting.

(Edit: my post crossed with Derulux above.)
Posted by: rocket88

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 01:29 PM

Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Therefore, "talent" is meaningless, and the only thing that matters is hard work and persistence.

This comes up in one guise or another every now and then. Taken to its logical conclusion, if all that mattered was hard work and persistence, then anyone could potentially be a Kissin.

Yet we know it doesn't work that way, and I find it extraordinary that Derulux -whose posts I generally admire- really believes that... or perhaps I'm just misinterpreting.

(Edit: my post crossed with Derulux above.)


As I said in my previous post, I do not think any piano teacher believes that talent is not an important factor in learning and playing.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 01:35 PM

Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Therefore, "talent" is meaningless, and the only thing that matters is hard work and persistence.

This comes up in one guise or another every now and then. Taken to its logical conclusion, if all that mattered was hard work and persistence, then anyone could potentially be a Kissin.

Yet we know it doesn't work that way, and I find it extraordinary that Derulux -whose posts I generally admire- really believes that... or perhaps I'm just misinterpreting.

(Edit: my post crossed with Derulux above.)

First, thank you for the kind words. smile

To address the differences, I will say simply (hopefully) that I believe anyone can play as well as Evgeny Kissin. I honestly do. I believe that every single person has the ability to do whatever it is they want to do, if they are willing to work hard and persist.

I don't, however, think anybody can "be" Evgeny Kissin. That relies on the whim of others-- who gets sick and cancels a concert, and wham! you're in, or who accepts you to which school, or who has the greater marketability to a European vs an American audience, or whether there is enough room in the industry to support another "star", or any number of factors outside the control of the pianist. That is the nature of a subjective industry.
Posted by: Hakki

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 01:38 PM

Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Therefore, "talent" is meaningless, and the only thing that matters is hard work and persistence.

This comes up in one guise or another every now and then. Taken to its logical conclusion, if all that mattered was hard work and persistence, then anyone could potentially be a Kissin.

Yet we know it doesn't work that way, and I find it extraordinary that Derulux -whose posts I generally admire- really believes that... or perhaps I'm just misinterpreting.

(Edit: my post crossed with Derulux above.)


Ditto.
I too am having a hard time to believe that he believes what he is saying.
There might be some confusion about semantics, but more or less everybody means, some sort of special natural ability that someone is born with, when talking about talent in the musical world.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 01:44 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux

If you can't measure it, then it either doesn't exist or we don't understand its principles well enough yet to define it properly.


We can, in theory, measure it.

Hypothetical situation here: two students start playing piano at the age of 8. They have the same teacher. Both students remain with this teacher for five years. In this time, the students have maintained an equal passion and work ethic, but one of the students is noticeably better than the other. The kid has more talent than the other. See?

Talent just has to do with the way the brain is wired up. Everyone is different. Some people's brains are wired up to be great mathematicians, others for music, and everything in between.

Think of it like bodybuilding. An ectomorph will never be able to beat a mesomorph in a bodybuilding contest even if he worked twice as hard as the mesomorph.


Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 01:56 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Derulux
That's not my argument. My argument is that "talent" is a useless word to describe results, and not a clear measure of potential (which cannot, in fact, be measured). Therefore, "talent" is meaningless, and the only thing that matters is hard work and persistence.

If you can somehow develop a measure of talent, where no one in the history of the world has ever been able to do so, I should like to change my argument to be more agreeable with everyone else. smile
How do you think Gnessin auditions students?

Listen to this video about Kissin starting at 11:40 and you can hear about Kissin's audition at Gnessin.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MunHV8eYOcM

You can also hear about how little he practiced in the beginning of his studies despite his lightning progress. If that doesn't imply talent I don't know what does. Or listen at 19:30 about how at age of 11 months he sang the theme of a Bach fugue his sister was studying.

It sounds like you want some scientific measure of talent as if one was measuring temperature or speed. That doesn't apply to musical talent or any musical performance. But that doesn't mean most can't agree who has a great deal of talent.

Out of sheer good humor, I listened to Kissin speak about his audition. It is interesting what he says. If he had been speaking about measuring "talent", he would have said things like, "She recognized that I was capable of doing [x]." But what he said was, "I was doing many interesting things, playing the Nutcracker, the 3rd Chopin Ballade, improvising. She would ask me to improvise about the dark forest and then about the bright sun, and then she would ask me to repeat what I had just played and I wouldn't be able to. I wouldn't remember anything. She wouldn't believe this, and would ask me to play another waltz or another march, and I would play something completely different."

I'm sorry to disappoint you, but absolutely none of this measures talent. It measures ability. Ability to put out what you've worked so hard for, and persisted so long at, developing.

Case in point: the closest thing in the world to measuring "talent" is called an IQ test. However, an IQ test doesn't measure what you are capable of learning (which would be true "talent"), it only measures what you have already learned on an average scale of how fast you may have learned it. If you were to ask any psychologist, they will tell you that the IQ test is insufficient to measure exactly what it was designed to measure, because what they are trying to measure cannot, in fact, be measured.

I'll use physics. Take "potential" energy, which is, for all intents and purposes, the "talent" of an unmoving object. (Closest thing to a "talented rock" I can think of.) You don't measure the rock's "potential". What you measure is, if the rock starts moving, how far it is capable of going and with what force. So, you can't even measure a rock's "talent".

"Talent" is an excuse. Like the rock, we measure how far a person goes. We measure what they've worked hard and persisted to achieve, and if they become Evgeny Kissin, we say, "Oh, my! That person is incredibly talented!" But if they don't, we say, "Oh, it's okay. That person wasn't talented enough to get there."

Quote:
If that doesn't imply talent I don't know what does.

Two thousand years ago, a thunderstorm would ravage the Greek coast, and lightning would destroy a village. If that doesn't imply that Zeus (and the other gods) exist, I don't know what does. wink

Quote:
It sounds like you want some scientific measure of talent as if one was measuring temperature or speed. That doesn't apply to musical talent or any musical performance. But that doesn't mean most can't agree who has a great deal of talent.

If you can't measure it, then it either doesn't exist or we don't understand its principles well enough yet to define it properly.

Originally Posted By: rocket88
This is like saying there is no such thing as IQ, and thus anyone with enough work and persistence can learn and do anything.

I was HOPING someone would bring that up! Unfortunately, my patience wore out before I got to your post.. haha laugh See above. I actually just addressed this. smile
I will only say I cannot agree with virtually a single thing you wrote. Just one point: Did you realize that what Kissin did at his audition most people can't do after a lifetime of practice and he clearly hadn't spent endless hours learning how to do this because he was so young at the time? Hence the title of the video "The Gift of Music". To deny that someone like Kissin has a gift or talent really makes no sense.
Posted by: Damon

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 02:02 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Therefore, "talent" is meaningless, and the only thing that matters is hard work and persistence.

This comes up in one guise or another every now and then. Taken to its logical conclusion, if all that mattered was hard work and persistence, then anyone could potentially be a Kissin.

To address the differences, I will say simply (hopefully) that I believe anyone can play as well as Evgeny Kissin. I honestly do.


Can everyone potentially jump as high as Dick Fosbury, sing as low as Barry White, understand math as well as Isaac Newton? Do you deny physical and mental differences between people as factors?
Posted by: rocket88

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 02:05 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux

If you can't measure it, then it either doesn't exist or we don't understand its principles well enough yet to define it properly.


1. If you can't measure something, that does not mean that it doesn't exist. There are many things that we cannot measure, yet they exist, and have an impact upon our lives. For example, we sometimes cannot measure the extended long-term negative effects of a new medical drug, yet the drug certainly does exist.

2. If we cannot fully understand something, and thus define it "properly", (talent, for example), that should not mean that we not view it as a component of learning.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 02:16 PM

I don't think anyone is going to convince Derulux.
Posted by: King Cole

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 02:23 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW

We can, in theory, measure it.

Hypothetical situation here: two students start playing piano at the age of 8. They have the same teacher. Both students remain with this teacher for five years. In this time, the students have maintained an equal passion and work ethic, but one of the students is noticeably better than the other. The kid has more talent than the other. See?

Talent just has to do with the way the brain is wired up. Everyone is different. Some people's brains are wired up to be great mathematicians, others for music, and everything in between.

Think of it like bodybuilding. An ectomorph will never be able to beat a mesomorph in a bodybuilding contest even if he worked twice as hard as the mesomorph.




Well as a biologist I can say that you are just simply wrong... ectomorph, mesomorph nonsense is simply scientifically unfounded. Look up the scientific studies on how the scientist came to those conclusions. Its laughable. People are more susceptible to obesity due to sugar and starch and some people have slightly better muscle building potential but not by much. And for you to go use such a simple hypothetical is absurd. Two students with the same teacher for 5 years? Really? You say nothing about their parents, motivation, work ethic amount of practice, lifestyle, persistence etc. Honestly it would be a miracle if they were at the exact same playing level. Once again you are trying to simplify a complex issue.

Iq doesn't work either. There have been countless studies that tracked kids with high IQs only to find no correlation with adult success. There was even a study done with Nobel Laureates (the people who make the most significant achievements in their field) and they saw that past an IQ of 120 there was no correlation to achievement which suggests that once one reached a certain level of intelligence things like creativity, persistence, determination etc., take over and become much better indicators of success. But some people are so convinced that this esoteric idea of talent is so profoundly indicative of one's chances of reaching a high playing level that it's almost absurd.

You can't even measure talent and if we can't why does it matter? How in the world does it help anyone by telling them you need to have the talent first? Should that child go on a quest for talent? Should that deprive them of working as hard as anyone else? Human beings are one of the most genetically uniform species on the planet. We are practically identical because humans who can speak languages all descended from a group in the horn of african about 70,000 years ago. The thought that only a few human beings have this special gene that allows them to use complex movements on a piano sounds more and more like an outdated tribal dogmatic concept that has no reasonable utility.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 02:25 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Why has no one here spoken about natural musical ability?....

Lots of us have.
I think that's essentially what we take "talent" to mean.

Perhaps some of us view talent as also including natural physical ability. But to me, it's mostly what you said up there, and I'd guess it is so for most who've emphasized talent.


That is a good point. Early in my teaching career, I had several young students who were very bright, did well in the advanced classes at school, and who also did very well in the grade 1 - 2 piano books.

They sped thru them, played everything fairly well, and quickly grasped the intellectual concepts of theory.

So, I made the mistake of classifying them as "musically talented".

Unfortunately, as time progressed, I soon deduced that although they were quite smart, and thus able to learn the simple things, that did not indicate true "natural musical ability".

They could not hear nuances in the music;They had great difficult with more complex rhythms, hands together, and many many other things.

I learned that some bright people can learn the basics easily, but that does not mean they are musically talented, any more than an average bright person can learn to do simple math, but they will never be able to grasp abstract and advanced math concepts, which require "math talent".

I also learned to keep my mouth shut vis-a-vis talent at an early stage.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 02:48 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
....I will say simply (hopefully) that I believe anyone can play as well as Evgeny Kissin. I honestly do. I believe that every single person has the ability to do whatever it is they want to do, if they are willing to work hard and persist....

Oy. grin

Count me among those in disbelief over your posts here -- not mainly because of how mistaken they are, but because of how out-of-keeping they are with your posting in general.

The philosophy you express here is admirable, and sweet. Unfortunately, it's very false. The fact is, for better and worse, that we are not all born with equal potentialities, and very very few have the potentiality of a Kissin, whether we're talking about playing the piano or any number of other things.

BTW do you also think we all have the potentiality to be Mickey Mantle? If so, I've been wasting my time on other things.... grin
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 02:48 PM

Originally Posted By: King Cole
Originally Posted By: JoelW

We can, in theory, measure it.

Hypothetical situation here: two students start playing piano at the age of 8. They have the same teacher. Both students remain with this teacher for five years. In this time, the students have maintained an equal passion and work ethic, but one of the students is noticeably better than the other. The kid has more talent than the other. See?

Talent just has to do with the way the brain is wired up. Everyone is different. Some people's brains are wired up to be great mathematicians, others for music, and everything in between.

Think of it like bodybuilding. An ectomorph will never be able to beat a mesomorph in a bodybuilding contest even if he worked twice as hard as the mesomorph.




Well as a biologist I can say that you are just simply wrong... ectomorph, mesomorph nonsense is simply scientifically unfounded. Look up the scientific studies on how the scientist came to those conclusions. Its laughable. People are more susceptible to obesity due to sugar and starch and some people have slightly better muscle building potential but not by much. And for you to go use such a simple hypothetical is absurd. Two students with the same teacher for 5 years? Really? You say nothing about their parents, motivation, work ethic amount of practice, lifestyle, persistence etc. Honestly it would be a miracle if they were at the exact same playing level. Once again you are trying to simplify a complex issue.

Iq doesn't work either. There have been countless studies that tracked kids with high IQs only to find no correlation with adult success. There was even a study done with Nobel Laureates (the people who make the most significant achievements in their field) and they saw that past an IQ of 120 there was no correlation to achievement which suggests that once one reached a certain level of intelligence things like creativity, persistence, determination etc., take over and become much better indicators of success. But some people are so convinced that this esoteric idea of talent is so profoundly indicative of one's chances of reaching a high playing level that it's almost absurd.

You can't even measure talent and if we can't why does it matter? How in the world does it help anyone by telling them you need to have the talent first? Should that child go on a quest for talent? Should that deprive them of working as hard as anyone else? Human beings are one of the most genetically uniform species on the planet. We are practically identical because humans who can speak languages all descended from a group in the horn of african about 70,000 years ago. The thought that only a few human beings have this special gene that allows them to use complex movements on a piano sounds more and more like an outdated tribal dogmatic concept that has no reasonable utility.



Go practice.
Posted by: Praeludium

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 03:29 PM

I just wanted to say I do agree with Derulux (sounds like we're in a minority).

Talent sounds like a generic name for all the factors we overlook when we're dealing with thing such as being a virtuoso instrumentalist.
Have you ever thought how many things (none of them innate ?) can influence someone to the point of making him doing huge progress ?
It's so big it's hardly conceivable...

What is interesting in the fact that Kissin began to sing subjects from the WTC being 11 months old is that he was (extensively, I guess) exposed to such music and to persons who practice it right from the beginning of his life. When music is a part of you right from the beginning, no wonder it's as natural as walking.



Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 03:33 PM

This is getting rather long, but I do want to be fair and respond to everyone to keep the dialogue going. I've put everyone's names in the quotes to which I've responded, so if you want to skip around, feel free. smile

Originally Posted By: Hakki
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Therefore, "talent" is meaningless, and the only thing that matters is hard work and persistence.

This comes up in one guise or another every now and then. Taken to its logical conclusion, if all that mattered was hard work and persistence, then anyone could potentially be a Kissin.

Yet we know it doesn't work that way, and I find it extraordinary that Derulux -whose posts I generally admire- really believes that... or perhaps I'm just misinterpreting.

(Edit: my post crossed with Derulux above.)


Ditto.
I too am having a hard time to believe that he believes what he is saying.
There might be some confusion about semantics, but more or less everybody means, some sort of special natural ability that someone is born with, when talking about talent in the musical world.

I'm not sure if there is or there isn't. I don't believe in the concept of "talent". I believe that a set of characteristics and circumstances that defines who we are and what we become is taken for granted as "talent", but it is not, in and of itself, "talent". (So, perhaps this is "semantical" after all?)

Originally Posted By: JoelW
We can, in theory, measure it.

Hypothetical situation here: two students start playing piano at the age of 8. They have the same teacher. Both students remain with this teacher for five years. In this time, the students have maintained an equal passion and work ethic, but one of the students is noticeably better than the other. The kid has more talent than the other. See?

Measurements "in theory" are not measurements. wink

Let's take your example: you've entirely neglected what happened from age "birth" to age 8. That's neglecting more formative years in which the brain develops than the entire length of your study. I'll throw in a variable that will most assuredly skew your hypothetical situation:

Student "A" was born to a mother and father who are both teachers, athletes, and musicians. From birth, this child is exposed to a wide variety of mathematics, language, physical coordination skill sets and music.

Student "B" was born to parents who, while loving, did not value education, were not intellectual, had no great skill for sports, and did not own a single radio.

It is natural to conclude that student "A" will outperform student "B" in every respect, because student "A" was prepared for the "study" since birth, while student "B" was not at all prepared.

Now, let's throw in another variable that will skew it even further: suppose student "B" excels over student "A". Then what? It must be talent, you say? Hardly.

Student "A" is involved in a tutoring club, plays four sports, reads avidly, and spends maybe 30 minutes every other day practicing. His practice time is not spent actually practicing, but rather, running through pieces.

Student "B" on the other hand, has nothing else to do but play the piano. This student spends hours every day sitting in front of the keys, working on mechanics, motion, technique, sound production-- all skill sets that will allow her to succeed at the piano.

Wow, student "B" wasn't prepared in the least, yet far surpassed student "A"! It must be talent, right? Hardly.

Quote:
Talent just has to do with the way the brain is wired up. Everyone is different. Some people's brains are wired up to be great mathematicians, others for music, and everything in between.

I disagree with this idea. I think everyone's brain is basically wired the same way at birth, and that, as a result of your surroundings, what you are exposed to, and what you take an interest to, your brain re-wires itself to succeed in that thing.

Trouble for adults is, you may now have different interests than when you were 10 months old. So, you may have to develop what someone else has already developed. But at some point, everyone had to develop that thing. No one comes into this world "naturally" able to do anything.

Quote:
Think of it like bodybuilding. An ectomorph will never be able to beat a mesomorph in a bodybuilding contest even if he worked twice as hard as the mesomorph.

I've never met someone who worked their tail off, and worked correctly, who didn't see results on par with how they worked. If it should become impossible for this person to see the results, then it falls under my "if you're missing a hand" disclaimer in what I think was my first post on the subject. wink

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I will only say I cannot agree with virtually a single thing you wrote. Just one point: Did you realize that what Kissin did at his audition most people can't do after a lifetime of practice and he clearly hadn't spent endless hours learning how to do this because he was so young at the time? Hence the title of the video "The Gift of Music". To deny that someone like Kissin has a gift or talent really makes no sense.

That's fine. I'm not arguing for the sake of persuasion, but merely expressing my views.

I didn't hear anything special that Kissin did in his audition. If, for some reason, he had never improvised a day in his life, and that was his first attempt -- and the result was on par with the expectation of excellence that Kissin's name implies -- then I should say there is an interesting example. But we have none of that evidence available, and I'm sure he practiced improvisation ahead of the audition.

I can improvise, too. It's not that special a gift if you practice it. I heard a guy on a Carnival Cruise ten years ago who was probably the single best improv pianist I ever heard. Nobody knows his name (I do, but I won't repost it unless he were okay with it). He couldn't make it as a classical musician.

Originally Posted By: Damon
Can everyone potentially jump as high as Dick Fosbury, sing as low as Barry White, understand math as well as Isaac Newton? Do you deny physical and mental differences between people as factors?

No, absolutely not. I'm glad you brought up this clarifying point. smile

I did say, in one of my first posts, that "people missing hands" could obviously not play two-handed repertoire. If you can't reach a tenth, you're not going to be able to do it no matter how hard you try. If you're 4'7", you're not going to be able to jump as high as somebody 6'5". You have less muscle.

So, if you want to talk about hand size, then yes, there is certainly an argument for why nobody can play "like Kissin". Nobody has hands exactly his size.

But many people have beaten Dick's record. I believe the current world record is nearly a foot taller.

Two of your examples rely on physical characteristics. The third relies on an intangible. Isaac Newton. I would argue that every undergrad coming out of a university today understands math and physics better than Newton. Why? Newton's theories were wrong. Einstein was not the first to discover that.

Originally Posted By: rocket88
If you can't measure something, that does not mean that it doesn't exist. There are many things that we cannot measure, yet they exist, and have an impact upon our lives. For example, we sometimes cannot measure the extended long-term negative effects of a new medical drug, yet the drug certainly does exist.

There were two parts to my answer for a reason. Please understand both parts before assuming to understand what I wrote. Once you do, I'll be happy to reply. wink

Originally Posted By: JoelW
I don't think anyone is going to convince Derulux.

Most-likely not. Unless someone has tangible evidence. But so far, every shred of it is intangible. It's perception, not reality. Of course, we are all entitled to our own perceptions, but nobody will convince me of anything based on a perception. smile


Originally Posted By: King Cole
Loosely paraphrased: "everything you said."

Thank you so very much for chiming in. I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said, except that humans developed 70,000 years ago. I wasn't there to see it. grin

Originally Posted By: Mark C
Count me among those in disbelief over your posts here -- not mainly because of how mistaken they are, but because of how out-of-keeping they are with your posting in general.

The philosophy you express here is admirable, and sweet. Unfortunately, it's very false. The fact is, for better and worse, that we are not all born with equal potentialities, and very very few have the potentiality of a Kissin, whether we're talking about playing the piano or any number of other things.

BTW do you also think we all have the potentiality to be Mickey Mantle? If so, I've been wasting my time on other things....

Yeah, I have a few boxes on which I stand. Don't mess with kids trying to do something to the best of their ability. Don't treat other people like crap. Don't tell me talent exists. grin

As for the Mickey Mantle comment, I was a switch-hitter myself growing up through early high school. I batted 3rd in the lineup, played center field, hit homers from both sides of the plate, led the league in stolen bases, and who knows what would have happened if I stuck with it? But I chose other passions (martial arts, golf, track & field, music, and a few others). I have heard, however, that pretty much every one of Mantle's records has been beaten, so obviously there are some other people pretty clearly able to do what he did, no? wink

It's almost against the Yankee religion to say that, I know--Mantle is still my favorite all-time baseball player--but it's true. Same with Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Maris, Berra, Mattingly, Boggs, Rose, Williams, Mays, Mays-Hayes ("Major League" reference there), and everybody else who played the game. You think Hank Aaron holds a record Ruth wouldn't have crushed if he hadn't led the league in walks? You think if just one of Foreman's punches landed squarely on Ali's jaw, that we'd still remember Ali as the greatest boxer of all-time? It's all subjective. There isn't a shred of "fact" anywhere in their accomplishments about "talent".

Are they the best at what they do? Yes. Is it because they had some "free ride" or "easy time" called "talent"? Absolutely not. It's because they worked harder, longer, and better than everybody else.
Posted by: Mwm

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 03:47 PM

The original point of this thread was based on two questions:

What are the most effective ways to obtain virtuoso technique???
What is the most efficient way to improve via practice time?

Neither question addresses "talent" or "musical ability", only technique. If the OP wants to develop vituroso technique, it would be best to define, as precisely as is possible, what is generally meant by "virtuoso". Not easy I imagine. Is it "fast" playing? Is it playing that speaks to the "soul" of the listener? Is it playing that provides the player with large financial rewards?
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 03:51 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I will only say I cannot agree with virtually a single thing you wrote. Just one point: Did you realize that what Kissin did at his audition most people can't do after a lifetime of practice and he clearly hadn't spent endless hours learning how to do this because he was so young at the time? Hence the title of the video "The Gift of Music". To deny that someone like Kissin has a gift or talent really makes no sense.

That's fine. I'm not arguing for the sake of persuasion, but merely expressing my views.

I didn't hear anything special that Kissin did in his audition. If, for some reason, he had never improvised a day in his life, and that was his first attempt -- and the result was on par with the expectation of excellence that Kissin's name implies -- then I should say there is an interesting example. But we have none of that evidence available, and I'm sure he practiced improvisation ahead of the audition.
He was a young child of 6 at the time of the audition. He didn't have much time to practice anything. That's the whole point. Everything he did he accomplished at an astronomical rate compared to others of the same age.

Did he practice singing Bach fugue themes he heard a lot before the first time he did it? Do you think many 11 month olds can do this?
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 03:52 PM

re: being kissin

I don't believe anyone can, through hard work, be as good as Kissin.

I don't believe anyone can, through hard work, be as good as Tiger Woods.

I do believe that anyone can, through hard work, learn to play golf well enough to enjoy it.

I do believe that anyone can, through hard work, learn to play the piano well enough to enjoy it.

Also, I don't believe talent is a "have it or don't" proposition. Pretty much everyone, except in rare cases, has some kind of musical talent. It's part of being human, just like language. And that talent is like linguistic talent - not everyone can become a great orator, but everyone can become good enough to be conversant and be understood.
Posted by: Hakki

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 04:00 PM

Originally Posted By: Mwm
The original point of this thread was based on two questions:

What are the most effective ways to obtain virtuoso technique???
What is the most efficient way to improve via practice time?

Neither question addresses "talent" or "musical ability", only technique. If the OP wants to develop vituroso technique, it would be best to define, as precisely as is possible, what is generally meant by "virtuoso". Not easy I imagine. Is it "fast" playing? Is it playing that speaks to the "soul" of the listener? Is it playing that provides the player with large financial rewards?


Exactly.
Most here are aware of this, but "talent" discussion seems more interesting for most of us (including me) than discussing the rather naïve questions of the OP.
Posted by: Mwm

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 05:15 PM

Hakki,

My interest here is the definition of "virtuoso", which was included in the original question. If we don't have a common frame of reference for that word, then the discussion of talent or innate musical ability or innate musicality cannot be included in a discussion of "virtuoso" technique". I have made my views clear on musicality. I have spent many decades playing with and listening to people perform who haven't an ounce of musicality, even though they play technically well. Either you have it, or you don't. You cannot fool the listener.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 07:52 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I will only say I cannot agree with virtually a single thing you wrote. Just one point: Did you realize that what Kissin did at his audition most people can't do after a lifetime of practice and he clearly hadn't spent endless hours learning how to do this because he was so young at the time? Hence the title of the video "The Gift of Music". To deny that someone like Kissin has a gift or talent really makes no sense.

That's fine. I'm not arguing for the sake of persuasion, but merely expressing my views.

I didn't hear anything special that Kissin did in his audition. If, for some reason, he had never improvised a day in his life, and that was his first attempt -- and the result was on par with the expectation of excellence that Kissin's name implies -- then I should say there is an interesting example. But we have none of that evidence available, and I'm sure he practiced improvisation ahead of the audition.
He was a young child of 6 at the time of the audition. He didn't have much time to practice anything. That's the whole point. Everything he did he accomplished at an astronomical rate compared to others of the same age.

Did he practice singing Bach fugue themes he heard a lot before the first time he did it? Do you think many 11 month olds can do this?

I can post youtube links right now to several six year olds playing the same stuff. I think there may be a little bias in the idea of what the 6-year-old Kissin could produce based on what we know the 41-year-old Kissin can now produce. I taught myself Mozart pieces at 8, having never touched a piano before in my life. "Oh, my God! A prodigy!!!! So much talent!!!!!" Not even close. I already played the trumpet, knew how to read music, and used basic math for the rest. (If you can count to "one", you can find the keys on a piano.)

I have an 18 month-old niece who, at 11 months old, could use a cell phone and a tablet, call the people she wanted to call, find and play the youtube songs she wanted to watch, and, now that she's running around, can dance to them, too. She can even play a few notes on the piano, though alternating fingers in a scale is still a little out of her grasp (same finger for each note). Talent? Not at all. She's just constantly exposed to it, so she learns it.

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I don't believe anyone can, through hard work, be as good as Kissin.

I don't believe anyone can, through hard work, be as good as Tiger Woods.

Volodos? Richter? Horowitz?
Nicklaus? Jones? Vardon?
wink

I think the biggest problem for most people is that they don't try. And that isn't necessarily a problem. Some people find enjoyment out of doing something well. Others have to be the best. Tiger Woods would not be happy going down in history as the 2nd greatest golfer who ever lived. He wants the title. So he works harder and longer than anyone else to go out and try to get it. But if you don't enjoy golf enough to go out and hit 1500 balls with one club, putt for three hours, chip for two hours, every day for 20 years, then you will not be Tiger Woods.

There was a very famous wrestler named Dan Gable, who used to wake up in the middle of the night and work out for two hours. Why? It was daytime in Russia, and his competitor was training. That's not talent. That's unbelievable dedication and hard work. His collegiate record of only one loss was finally beaten in 2004 by Cael Sanderson, who was the first person ever to go undefeated in college wrestling history.
Posted by: wr

Re: Maximizing ability - 04/11/13 08:06 PM

Originally Posted By: Mwm
The original point of this thread was based on two questions:

What are the most effective ways to obtain virtuoso technique???
What is the most efficient way to improve via practice time?

Neither question addresses "talent" or "musical ability", only technique. If the OP wants to develop vituroso technique, it would be best to define, as precisely as is possible, what is generally meant by "virtuoso". Not easy I imagine. Is it "fast" playing? Is it playing that speaks to the "soul" of the listener? Is it playing that provides the player with large financial rewards?


Just to clarify, he did revise his question to be this, instead: "What is the best way to maximize one's piano abilities?!?" The virtuoso technique bit was entirely dropped, so if you are interested in addressing the poster's question, that's the one to address, not the original post.

Of course, if you are interested in discussing "virtuosity" as a concept, fine. I just wanted to point out that it's no longer part of what the OP is asking.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 08:12 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I don't believe anyone can, through hard work, be as good as Kissin.

I don't believe anyone can, through hard work, be as good as Tiger Woods.

Volodos? Richter? Horowitz?
Nicklaus? Jones? Vardon?
I won't comment much on your latest reply to my post except to again say I see almost nothing that I agree with or find convincing. For example, playing "some Mozart pieces" at 8 hardly compares to playing the Chopin Ballade at 6 like Kissin. Talent is a continuum. It's not either yes or no. What you did shows talent but it was light years away from Kissin.

In regard, to your comment in Kreisler's post you misunderstood his use of "anyone". He clearly didn't mean to say that no one could through hard work play like Kissin. He didn't say that and interpreting his statement that way IMO shows your extreme bias and misunderstandings. Your idea, that not a single poster seems to agree with, is that anyone can play piano like Kissin with the right amount of effort.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/11/13 08:25 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I don't believe anyone can, through hard work, be as good as Kissin.

I don't believe anyone can, through hard work, be as good as Tiger Woods.

Volodos? Richter? Horowitz?
Nicklaus? Jones? Vardon?
I won't comment much on your latest reply to my post except to again say I see almost nothing that I agree with or find convincing. For example, playing "some Mozart" at 8 hardly compares to playing the Chopin Ballade at 6 like Kissin. Talent is a continuum. It's not either yes or no. What you did shows talent but it was light years away from Kissin.

In regard, to your comment in Kreisler's post you misunderstood his meaning. He clearly didn't mean to say that no one could through hard work play like Kissin. He didn't say that and interpreting his statement that way IMO shows your extreme bias and misunderstandings on this issue. Your idea, that not a single poster seems to agree with, is that anyone can play piano like Kissin with the right amount of effort.

I am absolutely certain that you were there in the room with Kissin when he was six. Or maybe have caught a video of him playing somewhere. (Did they have camcorders in 1977? I honestly don't know..) But if you were there, in my living room, when I was six.. you have officially just creeped me out for life. shocked

And several posters have chimed in agreeing with things I've said. But I don't base what I believe on the popular opinions of others. I base it on the evidence presented to me. Speaking of convincing.. to my first question, asking for evidence of "talent", you have yet to respond with any. Inference, certainly, but evidence? Not a shred. wink

If Kreisler feels I misinterpreted what he wrote, I'm sure he'll clarify. I actually think that, with the exception of the existence of "talent", I agree with most of what Kreisler wrote.
Posted by: Mwm

Re: Maximizing ability - 04/11/13 08:30 PM

Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Mwm
The original point of this thread was based on two questions:

What are the most effective ways to obtain virtuoso technique???
What is the most efficient way to improve via practice time?

Neither question addresses "talent" or "musical ability", only technique. If the OP wants to develop vituroso technique, it would be best to define, as precisely as is possible, what is generally meant by "virtuoso". Not easy I imagine. Is it "fast" playing? Is it playing that speaks to the "soul" of the listener? Is it playing that provides the player with large financial rewards?


Just to clarify, he did revise his question to be this, instead: "What is the best way to maximize one's piano abilities?!?" The virtuoso technique bit was entirely dropped, so if you are interested in addressing the poster's question, that's the one to address, not the original post.

Of course, if you are interested in discussing "virtuosity" as a concept, fine. I just wanted to point out that it's no longer part of what the OP is asking.



My thought is that the underlying theme hasn't changed, regardless of the OP's edit. Usually the first thing out of one's mouth (or one's fingers in this case) is closer to the desired thought than any subsequent backtracking. (Just a little armchair psychology.) We have to be careful when using the word ability. Maximizing one piano abilities assumes you have some to begin with.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Maximizing ability - 04/11/13 08:35 PM

Originally Posted By: Mwm
We have to be careful when using the word ability. Maximizing one piano abilities assumes you have some to begin with.
Ability like talent is a continuum. Everyone has some degree even if they're at the extreme low end of the bell curve.
Posted by: Mwm

Re: Maximizing ability - 04/11/13 08:51 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mwm
We have to be careful when using the word ability. Maximizing one piano abilities assumes you have some to begin with.
Ability like talent is a continuum. Everyone has some degree even if they're at the extreme low end of the bell curve.


What I'm really trying to say, politely, is that people who are blind are not able to be airline pilots; they lack the ability to fly using current technology. Period. Rocks lack the ability to swim and therefore are not able to compete in swimming competitions. Period. Are these examples, therefore, of just the extreme end of the bell curve? You may think I'm being flippant but, while it may be possible to maximize one's ability, if it is at the extreme low end of the bell curve, one is not going to become a "virtuoso".
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Maximizing ability - 04/11/13 09:03 PM

Originally Posted By: Mwm
What I'm really trying to say, politely, is that people who are blind are not able to be airline pilots; they lack the ability to fly using current technology. Period. Rocks lack the ability to swim and therefore are not able to compete in swimming competitions. Period. Are these examples, therefore, of just the extreme end of the bell curve? You may think I'm being flippant but, while it may be possible to maximize one's ability, if it is at the extreme low end of the bell curve, one is not going to become a "virtuoso".
The examples you gave are not really on the curve at all. They have physical disabilities that prevent them from doing the tasks at all.

The quote I objected didn't talk about the unreasonableness of someone at the low end of the scale becoming a great pianist. That's perfectly reasonable to me. You said one should not talk of maximizing ability because someone might not have any. I don't think many would consider people who are not capable of pressing down a note in that discussion.
Posted by: wr

Re: Maximizing ability - 04/11/13 09:06 PM

Originally Posted By: Mwm
Maximizing one piano abilities assumes you have some to begin with.


If he's been taking lessons for five months, he must have some rudimentary abilities, at the very least. Either that, or else he and the teacher are involved in some kind of folie à deux.
Posted by: Mwm

Re: Maximizing ability - 04/11/13 09:10 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mwm
What I'm really trying to say, politely, is that people who are blind are not able to be airline pilots; they lack the ability to fly using current technology. Period. Rocks lack the ability to swim and therefore are not able to compete in swimming competitions. Period. Are these examples, therefore, of just the extreme end of the bell curve? You may think I'm being flippant but, while it may be possible to maximize one's ability, if it is at the extreme low end of the bell curve, one is not going to become a "virtuoso".
The examples you gave are not really on the curve at all. They have physical disabilities that prevent them from doing the tasks at all.

The quote I objected didn't talk about the unreasonableness of someone at the low end of the scale becoming a great pianist. That's perfectly reasonable to me. You said one should not talk of maximizing ability because someone might not have any. I don't think many would consider people who are not capable of pressing down a note in that discussion.


Precisely. There are people who have no musical ability. They are not on the curve at all.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: Maximizing ability - 04/11/13 09:17 PM

Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mwm
What I'm really trying to say, politely, is that people who are blind are not able to be airline pilots; they lack the ability to fly using current technology. Period. Rocks lack the ability to swim and therefore are not able to compete in swimming competitions. Period. Are these examples, therefore, of just the extreme end of the bell curve? You may think I'm being flippant but, while it may be possible to maximize one's ability, if it is at the extreme low end of the bell curve, one is not going to become a "virtuoso".
The examples you gave are not really on the curve at all. They have physical disabilities that prevent them from doing the tasks at all.

The quote I objected didn't talk about the unreasonableness of someone at the low end of the scale becoming a great pianist. That's perfectly reasonable to me. You said one should not talk of maximizing ability because someone might not have any. I don't think many would consider people who are not capable of pressing down a note in that discussion.


Precisely. There are people who have no musical ability. They are not on the curve at all.

I don't think I've ever met someone who had "zero" musical ability. Some people are less fortunate, and aren't exposed to it as much as others, but just about everyone can whistle, hum, or clap.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Maximizing ability - 04/11/13 09:21 PM

Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mwm
What I'm really trying to say, politely, is that people who are blind are not able to be airline pilots; they lack the ability to fly using current technology. Period. Rocks lack the ability to swim and therefore are not able to compete in swimming competitions. Period. Are these examples, therefore, of just the extreme end of the bell curve? You may think I'm being flippant but, while it may be possible to maximize one's ability, if it is at the extreme low end of the bell curve, one is not going to become a "virtuoso".
The examples you gave are not really on the curve at all. They have physical disabilities that prevent them from doing the tasks at all.

The quote I objected didn't talk about the unreasonableness of someone at the low end of the scale becoming a great pianist. That's perfectly reasonable to me. You said one should not talk of maximizing ability because someone might not have any. I don't think many would consider people who are not capable of pressing down a note in that discussion.


Precisely. There are people who have no musical ability. They are not on the curve at all.
I was not agreeing with you. Anyone who can press a note down has some ability to play the piano. In a discussion of "ability", including those who are physically incapable of pressing a note down in the discussion is not something many would consider as reasonable.
Posted by: Mwm

Re: Maximizing ability - 04/11/13 09:22 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mwm
What I'm really trying to say, politely, is that people who are blind are not able to be airline pilots; they lack the ability to fly using current technology. Period. Rocks lack the ability to swim and therefore are not able to compete in swimming competitions. Period. Are these examples, therefore, of just the extreme end of the bell curve? You may think I'm being flippant but, while it may be possible to maximize one's ability, if it is at the extreme low end of the bell curve, one is not going to become a "virtuoso".
The examples you gave are not really on the curve at all. They have physical disabilities that prevent them from doing the tasks at all.

The quote I objected didn't talk about the unreasonableness of someone at the low end of the scale becoming a great pianist. That's perfectly reasonable to me. You said one should not talk of maximizing ability because someone might not have any. I don't think many would consider people who are not capable of pressing down a note in that discussion.


Precisely. There are people who have no musical ability. They are not on the curve at all.

I don't think I've ever met someone who had "zero" musical ability. Some people are less fortunate, and aren't exposed to it as much as others, but just about everyone can whistle, hum, or clap.


I must apologize, as I have not made myself clear. I am not talking about being able to whistle or clap. I am talking about being able to make music. There IS a difference. Many people can play the piano. Not that many make music when doing it. The difference is clearly heard by the listener.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: Maximizing ability - 04/11/13 11:12 PM

Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mwm
What I'm really trying to say, politely, is that people who are blind are not able to be airline pilots; they lack the ability to fly using current technology. Period. Rocks lack the ability to swim and therefore are not able to compete in swimming competitions. Period. Are these examples, therefore, of just the extreme end of the bell curve? You may think I'm being flippant but, while it may be possible to maximize one's ability, if it is at the extreme low end of the bell curve, one is not going to become a "virtuoso".
The examples you gave are not really on the curve at all. They have physical disabilities that prevent them from doing the tasks at all.

The quote I objected didn't talk about the unreasonableness of someone at the low end of the scale becoming a great pianist. That's perfectly reasonable to me. You said one should not talk of maximizing ability because someone might not have any. I don't think many would consider people who are not capable of pressing down a note in that discussion.


Precisely. There are people who have no musical ability. They are not on the curve at all.

I don't think I've ever met someone who had "zero" musical ability. Some people are less fortunate, and aren't exposed to it as much as others, but just about everyone can whistle, hum, or clap.


I must apologize, as I have not made myself clear. I am not talking about being able to whistle or clap. I am talking about being able to make music. There IS a difference. Many people can play the piano. Not that many make music when doing it. The difference is clearly heard by the listener.

I'm not sure that's indicative of musical ability. Technique, almost assuredly, but not necessarily musical ability.

Of course, there is the off-chance that it is the listener who has the issue, and not the performer (or any other listener who heard the same thing).

If the only people capable of "making music" sit in the first chair at the New York Philharmonic, then the world is in a sad state, indeed. So, I think my definition is usually pretty broad. wink
Posted by: King Cole

Re: Maximizing ability - 04/12/13 01:22 AM

Originally Posted By: Hakki

Most here are aware of this, but "talent" discussion seems more interesting for most of us (including me) than discussing the rather naïve questions of the OP.


Naive you say? Well I apologize. We can't all be young pianists winning amateur chopin competitions like you my good man.

Hakki what is your definition virtuoso anyway? I know it may be hard to come down to us mortals but please enlighten us with your utter brilliance.

I'll just assume I have no musical ability and/or talent and practice relentlessly and hopefully my teacher guides me well. Maybe then I could scratch the surface of decent musicality when it comes to playing "Mary had a little lamb". See you all in 10 years.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Maximizing ability - 04/12/13 02:10 AM

Oh Horowitzian... whistle
Posted by: Horowitzian

Re: Maximizing ability - 04/12/13 02:14 AM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Oh Horowitzian... whistle


You rang?









WHAT AN AWESOME THREAD!!!!!!!!
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Maximizing ability - 04/12/13 02:32 AM

Before we put this thread out to pasture..... grin

I remember my first concept of "virtuoso." I was somewhat raised on the John Schaum piano books -- y'know, Book "A," Book "B," etc. It went up to "H."

G was titled "Pre-Virtuoso."
H was "Virtuoso."

So, for years I went around thinking, all I had to do was get up to Book H and I'd be a virtuoso, whatever that meant. To me, it meant basically getting up to Book H, but I figured it was something real good besides that. Just do book H, and you're a virtuoso.

Imagine my disappointment. ha

BTW, maybe the problem was that I never did Book "A." I had had a teacher before that who used John Thompson. So, I had done "Teaching Little Fingers to Play" and whatever was the next John Thompson book after that. Then with this next teacher, I got "jumped" right to Book "B." Maybe "A" had some missing secrets. grin
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Maximizing ability - 04/12/13 02:36 AM

Originally Posted By: Horowitzian
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Oh Horowitzian... whistle


You rang?









WHAT AN AWESOME THREAD!!!!!!!!



grin grin grin
Posted by: Horowitzian

Re: Maximizing ability - 04/12/13 02:38 AM

You should never post again, Joel. That was your 1337th post. grin

l33t.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: Maximizing ability - 04/12/13 02:41 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Before we put this thread out to pasture..... grin

I remember my first concept of "virtuoso." I was somewhat raised on the John Schaum piano books -- y'know, Book "A," Book "B," etc. It went up to "H."

G was titled "Pre-Virtuoso."
H was "Virtuoso."

So, for years I went around thinking, all I had to do was get up to Book H and I'd be a virtuoso, whatever that meant. To me, it meant basically getting up to Book H, but I figured it was something real good besides that. Just do book H, and you're a virtuoso.

Imagine my disappointment. ha

BTW, maybe the problem was that I never did Book "A." I had teacher before that who used John Thompson. So, I had done "Teaching Little Fingers to Play" and whatever was the next John Thompson book after that. Then with this next teacher, I got "jumped" right to Book "B." Maybe "A" had some missing secrets. grin

You mean, by book 8 you weren't? Maybe it was a "talent" issue.. grin (couldn't help it)

On a more serious note, and out of curiosity, how long after that did it take? And what was in volume "H"? (I've never seen the inside of those books.)

Also, I think you inadvertently bring up a good point about "labels". You see this all over the place in the martial arts nowadays. People "promote" themselves to foreign-language equivalents of the word "teacher". They call themselves "master" because it attracts more students--ah, marketing! But all those labels are irrelevant and pointless.

I think, in this respect, the prophet Jack Sparrow said it best, "All that matters is what a man can do, and what a man can't do."

Perhaps in that respect, and tying it full circle to the original question, it would be best to disregard the label "virtuoso" and simply dissect technique that breeds success?


EDIT: I suppose the second question leaned more in that direction..
Quote:
What is the most efficient way to improve via practice time?

Unfortunately, the only answer I can give over a forum is that it depends on what you're doing now, and what you'd like to be doing. But the best and most effective snippet of advice I could give would be to say this:

Don't, under any circumstances, continue to practice something incorrectly. Always practice the correct movement. Otherwise, you will develop bad habits very quickly, and they will haunt you from note to note and piece to piece.

If you are playing with significant bad habits, it would be best to go back to scratch, rebuild your technique, and then continue. There is a lot of time invested in this approach. Look at Tiger Woods. He is now on his 4th swing, and it took him five years to get back to #1 in the world coming into the Masters. Could take 2-3 years to rebuild your piano technique (or longer). But if you want it that badly, then do it.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Maximizing ability - 04/12/13 03:16 AM

Originally Posted By: Horowitzian
You should never post again, Joel. That was your 1337th post. grin

l33t.


ftw
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Maximizing ability - 04/12/13 08:13 AM

Originally Posted By: Mwm
I must apologize, as I have not made myself clear. I am not talking about being able to whistle or clap. I am talking about being able to make music. There IS a difference. Many people can play the piano. Not that many make music when doing it. The difference is clearly heard by the listener.
I think "making music" like "ability" and like "talent" is a continuum and not a yes or no situation. That would mean that close to 100% of pianists can make music to some degree albeit sometimes at a low level. And some would require a lot of instruction to play with even a minimum of musicality.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/12/13 08:27 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
I am absolutely certain that you were there in the room with Kissin when he was six. Or maybe have caught a video of him playing somewhere. (Did they have camcorders in 1977? I honestly don't know..) But if you were there, in my living room, when I was six.. you have officially just creeped me out for life
You mentioned your accomplishments at 8 s if to show Kissin's skill at 6 was not so amazing. One has to compare apples to apples. You hadn't played the piano at all at age 6 and he did at 6 what I previously described including playing a Chopin Ballade. At 8 you taught yourself to "play some Mozart pieces". I don't know what Kissin did at 8 but judging by where he was at 6 and the fact that he had been at Gnessin for 2 years he was undoubtedly light years beyond what you did at 8. Although both Kissin and you were talented, there is no comparison to where you were on the talent scale.

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Speaking of convincing.. to my first question, asking for evidence of "talent", you have yet to respond with any. Inference, certainly, but evidence? Not a shred. wink
I gave numerous examples of what the huge majority of people and virtually everyone on this thread would call talent. Since you don't even consider talent something that exists or can be measured no one can ever give you evidence of talent. Most would consider my examples of Kissin's talent self evident.

Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/12/13 08:43 AM

From what I read in this thread, I'd say that baby Evgeny had an indiscutable talent at birth, that of having a mother who taught his sister Bach fugues.
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/12/13 08:46 AM

Originally Posted By: Praeludium
I just wanted to say I do agree with Derulux (sounds like we're in a minority).

Talent sounds like a generic name for all the factors we overlook when we're dealing with thing such as being a virtuoso instrumentalist.
Have you ever thought how many things (none of them innate ?) can influence someone to the point of making him doing huge progress ?
It's so big it's hardly conceivable...

What is interesting in the fact that Kissin began to sing subjects from the WTC being 11 months old is that he was (extensively, I guess) exposed to such music and to persons who practice it right from the beginning of his life. When music is a part of you right from the beginning, no wonder it's as natural as walking.



However, there are many people who grow up in musical households who exposed to musical influences from the beginning, but they still do not turn into "talented" musicians. Certainly being born into such a household can make an enormous difference, but it isn't the only deciding factor, or the world would have many, many more Kissins, IMO.
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/12/13 08:48 AM

Originally Posted By: landorrano
From what I read in this thread, I'd say that baby Evgeny had an indiscutable talent at birth, that of having a mother who taught his sister Bach fugues.



Having the talent to get oneself born into the right circumstances shouldn't be underestimated, it's true.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/12/13 09:19 AM

Originally Posted By: JoelW

Hypothetical situation here: two students start playing piano at the age of 8. They have the same teacher. Both students remain with this teacher for five years. In this time, the students have maintained an equal passion and work ethic, but one of the students is noticeably better than the other. The kid has more talent than the other. See?



I can do better, I have a real-life anecdote.

I know a couple of identical twin brothers who are musicians, one is cellist, the brother plays violin. When they were kids, their father locked them each in a room and made them practice for hours at a time, didn't even let them out to [censored] "winkle". He knew the likes of Casals, he wanted his boys to be great musicians.

It's another fellow, a musician himself who grew up with them, who told me about their childhood, and he says that even when they were little it was evident that the cellist had that "something", something special. And today the cellist is a world-reknowned soloist, and the violinist while a professional musician plays in a small town orchestra.

Was one more talented than the other? For my part, I don't think that this situation proves anything of the sort. There are many factors that enter into the development of a child and in the end you can't know exactly why one develops the way he does. The relationship between each child and the father, or with their mother; the rivalry between the two; the relationship with the teachers.

Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/12/13 10:08 AM

Originally Posted By: Praeludium

What is interesting in the fact that Kissin began to sing subjects from the WTC being 11 months old is that he was (extensively, I guess) exposed to such music and to persons who practice it right from the beginning of his life. When music is a part of you right from the beginning, no wonder it's as natural as walking.
I think what Kissin did at 11 months is not remotely close natural or normal for someone that age no matter how much they are exposed to music.
Posted by: Hakki

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/12/13 11:09 AM

Originally Posted By: Mwm
Hakki,

My interest here is the definition of "virtuoso", which was included in the original question. If we don't have a common frame of reference for that word, then the discussion of talent or innate musical ability or innate musicality cannot be included in a discussion of "virtuoso" technique".


Originally Posted By: King Cole
Originally Posted By: Hakki

Most here are aware of this, but "talent" discussion seems more interesting for most of us (including me) than discussing the rather naïve questions of the OP.


Naive you say? Well I apologize. We can't all be young pianists winning amateur chopin competitions like you my good man.

Hakki what is your definition virtuoso anyway? I know it may be hard to come down to us mortals but please enlighten us with your utter brilliance.



OK. First let me say that this happens from time to time with my posts.
English is not my native language and I might sometimes use incorrect words.

Let me just say that these (OP's first post questions) are not meaningful questions, because the answer is obvious. It takes many years to become a virtuoso provided that one has the necessary talent and correct teachers. And hence my reluctance to answer them.

As for my definition of virtuoso, well a simple Google search returns many reasonable definitions. But here are some examples from the past, near past and present, whom I would consider to have virtuoso technique:

Paganini, Liszt
Cziffra
Volodos, Hamelin, Wang

Hope this helps.
Posted by: Mwm

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/12/13 11:49 AM

Hakki,

Your command of english is extremely good and shows a natural "talent" and the necessary hard work required to bring that talent to fruition. Or, as Dr. Suzuki postulated, using the "mother tongue method", you learned the language by rote in the beginning along with your native tongue. Well done in any case.

Regards
Posted by: Mwm

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/12/13 11:52 AM

Originally Posted By: Hakki
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Hakki,

My interest here is the definition of "virtuoso", which was included in the original question. If we don't have a common frame of reference for that word, then the discussion of talent or innate musical ability or innate musicality cannot be included in a discussion of "virtuoso" technique".


Originally Posted By: King Cole
Originally Posted By: Hakki

Most here are aware of this, but "talent" discussion seems more interesting for most of us (including me) than discussing the rather naïve questions of the OP.


Naive you say? Well I apologize. We can't all be young pianists winning amateur chopin competitions like you my good man.

Hakki what is your definition virtuoso anyway? I know it may be hard to come down to us mortals but please enlighten us with your utter brilliance.



OK. First let me say that this happens from time to time with my posts.
English is not my native language and I might sometimes use incorrect words.

Let me just say that these (OP's first post questions) are not meaningful questions, because the answer is obvious. It takes many years to become a virtuoso provided that one has the necessary talent and correct teachers. And hence my reluctance to answer them.

As for my definition of virtuoso, well a simple Google search returns many reasonable definitions. But here are some examples from the past, near past and present, whom I would consider to have virtuoso technique:

Paganini, Liszt
Cziffra
Volodos, Hamelin, Wang

Hope this helps.


Excellent response. Thank you.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/12/13 12:41 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Derulux
I am absolutely certain that you were there in the room with Kissin when he was six. Or maybe have caught a video of him playing somewhere. (Did they have camcorders in 1977? I honestly don't know..) But if you were there, in my living room, when I was six.. you have officially just creeped me out for life
You mentioned your accomplishments at 8 s if to show Kissin's skill at 6 was not so amazing. One has to compare apples to apples. You hadn't played the piano at all at age 6 and he did at 6 what I previously described including playing a Chopin Ballade. At 8 you taught yourself to "play some Mozart pieces". I don't know what Kissin did at 8 but judging by where he was at 6 and the fact that he had been at Gnessin for 2 years he was undoubtedly light years beyond what you did at 8. Although both Kissin and you were talented, there is no comparison to where you were on the talent scale.

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Speaking of convincing.. to my first question, asking for evidence of "talent", you have yet to respond with any. Inference, certainly, but evidence? Not a shred. wink
I gave numerous examples of what the huge majority of people and virtually everyone on this thread would call talent. Since you don't even consider talent something that exists or can be measured no one can ever give you evidence of talent. Most would consider my examples of Kissin's talent self evident.


So, you would say that, at 8, Kissin was far more talented than me, right? On what would you base this assessment? Would you base it on what he was capable of playing--is that how you determine talent?

Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: JoelW

Hypothetical situation here: two students start playing piano at the age of 8. They have the same teacher. Both students remain with this teacher for five years. In this time, the students have maintained an equal passion and work ethic, but one of the students is noticeably better than the other. The kid has more talent than the other. See?



I can do better, I have a real-life anecdote.

I know a couple of identical twin brothers who are musicians, one is cellist, the brother plays violin. When they were kids, their father locked them each in a room and made them practice for hours at a time, didn't even let them out to [censored] "winkle". He knew the likes of Casals, he wanted his boys to be great musicians.

It's another fellow, a musician himself who grew up with them, who told me about their childhood, and he says that even when they were little it was evident that the cellist had that "something", something special. And today the cellist is a world-reknowned soloist, and the violinist while a professional musician plays in a small town orchestra.

Was one more talented than the other? For my part, I don't think that this situation proves anything of the sort. There are many factors that enter into the development of a child and in the end you can't know exactly why one develops the way he does. The relationship between each child and the father, or with their mother; the rivalry between the two; the relationship with the teachers.

The love of what they were doing at the time, the way they chose to practice, their focus and dedication levels while they were in the "room", what they did/liked/disliked/gravitated towards before they began this locked-room practice routine, what they thought about when they weren't in the room, what they did when they weren't in the room, etc etc etc.... You're right, there are far too many variables to consider, and when we can't (or don't want to) think of them all, we make up a mythological term to "cover our bases".

If someone showed me a study in which every variable were exactly the same, and we could reduce the experiment to 1=1, AND in that experiment one student out-shined the other, THEN I would be ready to consider the concept of talent. But such an experiment does not exist, and likely can never exist.

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Praeludium

What is interesting in the fact that Kissin began to sing subjects from the WTC being 11 months old is that he was (extensively, I guess) exposed to such music and to persons who practice it right from the beginning of his life. When music is a part of you right from the beginning, no wonder it's as natural as walking.
I think what Kissin did at 11 months is not remotely close natural or normal for someone that age no matter how much they are exposed to music.

I don't think so at all. You act like he sang Bach as if he were Pavarotti. Likely, it is an exaggerated claim made by a biased observer (mother) that is being further exaggerated by the distance and time of parties who were not privy to the event itself.

For example, I overheard a mother say this: "My daughter can dance to Gangnam Style at 10 months!" When I observed the baby (and I actually did get a chance to do this), the baby put one hand over top of the other, and lifted it up in relative time, just like in the dance. But that was it. Now, if this child becomes a top dancer in the ballet, or a Rockette, or something of the sort, and someone else were to hear this story, they might think the 10 month old was standing up, dancing around the room just like Psy in the video. But it's not even close to what actually happened.

So, for example, Kissin may have shouted or tuned-in to a couple notes, which might not even have been the right pitch, but the mother makes the claim, and the rest is historical exaggeration. Will we ever be able to prove it? No, probably not. I've seen a very quick clip of him at what I think was 2-3 years old, but not at 11 months. But in all likelihood, it's probably closer to the truth than the idea that he could sing every pitch perfectly at 11 months.
Posted by: Praeludium

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/12/13 01:09 PM

Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Praeludium


[...]

What is interesting in the fact that Kissin began to sing subjects from the WTC being 11 months old is that he was (extensively, I guess) exposed to such music and to persons who practice it right from the beginning of his life. When music is a part of you right from the beginning, no wonder it's as natural as walking.



However, there are many people who grow up in musical households who exposed to musical influences from the beginning, but they still do not turn into "talented" musicians. Certainly being born into such a household can make an enormous difference, but it isn't the only deciding factor, or the world would have many, many more Kissins, IMO.



Of course I agree that it isn't the only factor, but in my mind it's certainly one of the most important (:
I mean, he couldn't have been born in a "better" familly in order to become a professional musician.

Also, I think we need to remember Kissin is not God, because after talking so much of him as an example of/argument for prodigious talent, we could think so (:
In fact, it's probable that there are musicians who are/were better artists and better pianists who haven't this kind of impressive stories to tell.


About the fact that he was singing a subject of fugue at 11 month, we'll probably never know how well he was actually singing so it's maybe better to not argue too much on it, isn't it ?
It's more an anecdote than anything else.



Have you ever thought about the likes of Berlioz and Wagner ?
How come two of the greatest composers of the XIXth century (and arguably of our history) weren't at all doing the kind of exploit those child prodigies do ?
And Berlioz wrote some pretty poor pieces of music when he was a teenager, so obliviously he wasn't the typical prodigy.
On the other hand, it's not like all child prodigies end up being remembered after their death...
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/13/13 03:22 AM

Originally Posted By: Praeludium



Of course I agree that it isn't the only factor, but in my mind it's certainly one of the most important


Good morning. I am struck by the indifference that many people show to this factor. But the living link, the intimate communication between a child and his family is of no small importance in shaping their development. I find it curious that people pass over it so lightly.

Isn't it Kodaly who said, in response to the question as to at what age one should start a child's musical education: nine months before birth !
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/13/13 08:06 AM

Originally Posted By: Praeludium
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Praeludium


[...]

What is interesting in the fact that Kissin began to sing subjects from the WTC being 11 months old is that he was (extensively, I guess) exposed to such music and to persons who practice it right from the beginning of his life. When music is a part of you right from the beginning, no wonder it's as natural as walking.



However, there are many people who grow up in musical households who exposed to musical influences from the beginning, but they still do not turn into "talented" musicians. Certainly being born into such a household can make an enormous difference, but it isn't the only deciding factor, or the world would have many, many more Kissins, IMO.



Of course I agree that it isn't the only factor, but in my mind it's certainly one of the most important (:
I mean, he couldn't have been born in a "better" familly in order to become a professional musician.

Also, I think we need to remember Kissin is not God, because after talking so much of him as an example of/argument for prodigious talent, we could think so (:
In fact, it's probable that there are musicians who are/were better artists and better pianists who haven't this kind of impressive stories to tell.

About the fact that he was singing a subject of fugue at 11 month, we'll probably never know how well he was actually singing so it's maybe better to not argue too much on it, isn't it ?
It's more an anecdote than anything else.

Have you ever thought about the likes of Berlioz and Wagner ?
How come two of the greatest composers of the XIXth century (and arguably of our history) weren't at all doing the kind of exploit those child prodigies do ?
And Berlioz wrote some pretty poor pieces of music when he was a teenager, so obliviously he wasn't the typical prodigy.
On the other hand, it's not like all child prodigies end up being remembered after their death...


None of which addresses my point - which is that if being raised in a musical environment is what "talent" really is, why aren't all kids who coming out of the right kind of musical environment talented? Because they aren't.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/13/13 08:41 AM

Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Praeludium
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Praeludium


[...]

What is interesting in the fact that Kissin began to sing subjects from the WTC being 11 months old is that he was (extensively, I guess) exposed to such music and to persons who practice it right from the beginning of his life. When music is a part of you right from the beginning, no wonder it's as natural as walking.



However, there are many people who grow up in musical households who exposed to musical influences from the beginning, but they still do not turn into "talented" musicians. Certainly being born into such a household can make an enormous difference, but it isn't the only deciding factor, or the world would have many, many more Kissins, IMO.



Of course I agree that it isn't the only factor, but in my mind it's certainly one of the most important (:
I mean, he couldn't have been born in a "better" familly in order to become a professional musician.

Also, I think we need to remember Kissin is not God, because after talking so much of him as an example of/argument for prodigious talent, we could think so (:
In fact, it's probable that there are musicians who are/were better artists and better pianists who haven't this kind of impressive stories to tell.

About the fact that he was singing a subject of fugue at 11 month, we'll probably never know how well he was actually singing so it's maybe better to not argue too much on it, isn't it ?
It's more an anecdote than anything else.

Have you ever thought about the likes of Berlioz and Wagner ?
How come two of the greatest composers of the XIXth century (and arguably of our history) weren't at all doing the kind of exploit those child prodigies do ?
And Berlioz wrote some pretty poor pieces of music when he was a teenager, so obliviously he wasn't the typical prodigy.
On the other hand, it's not like all child prodigies end up being remembered after their death...


None of which addresses my point - which is that if being raised in a musical environment is what "talent" really is, why aren't all kids who coming out of the right kind of musical environment talented? Because they aren't.



Very good point.



I still can't believe people are arguing over this. How can anyone think talent doesn't exist? It all has to do with the individual's brain. Some brains are wired up so that music comes easily. Others it might be dance, or chess, or whatever it may be. People (their brains) are different, and with that comes different aptitudes.
Posted by: Praeludium

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/13/13 08:59 AM

wr -> Maybe my answer wasn't well written enough.
I just meant that being raised in a musical household is one of the thing that can lead a child to learn music very quickly. Nobody said it was the only factor. An awful lot of other things count. That'd be why it's so rare to see child prodigies (I think child prodigies are over-rated anyway but that's not the subject) - it musn't be very often that all the right conditions needed are there.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/13/13 10:40 AM

Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Praeludium
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Praeludium


[...]

What is interesting in the fact that Kissin began to sing subjects from the WTC being 11 months old is that he was (extensively, I guess) exposed to such music and to persons who practice it right from the beginning of his life. When music is a part of you right from the beginning, no wonder it's as natural as walking.



However, there are many people who grow up in musical households who exposed to musical influences from the beginning, but they still do not turn into "talented" musicians. Certainly being born into such a household can make an enormous difference, but it isn't the only deciding factor, or the world would have many, many more Kissins, IMO.



Of course I agree that it isn't the only factor, but in my mind it's certainly one of the most important (:
I mean, he couldn't have been born in a "better" familly in order to become a professional musician.

Also, I think we need to remember Kissin is not God, because after talking so much of him as an example of/argument for prodigious talent, we could think so (:
In fact, it's probable that there are musicians who are/were better artists and better pianists who haven't this kind of impressive stories to tell.

About the fact that he was singing a subject of fugue at 11 month, we'll probably never know how well he was actually singing so it's maybe better to not argue too much on it, isn't it ?
It's more an anecdote than anything else.

Have you ever thought about the likes of Berlioz and Wagner ?
How come two of the greatest composers of the XIXth century (and arguably of our history) weren't at all doing the kind of exploit those child prodigies do ?
And Berlioz wrote some pretty poor pieces of music when he was a teenager, so obliviously he wasn't the typical prodigy.
On the other hand, it's not like all child prodigies end up being remembered after their death...


None of which addresses my point - which is that if being raised in a musical environment is what "talent" really is, why aren't all kids who coming out of the right kind of musical environment talented? Because they aren't.


For someone who seems to recognize there are other mitigating factors involved, and that "talent" can't possibly be the "only" thing that creates ability -- you certainly seem to want to ignore those other factors now in your above statement. wink
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/14/13 06:35 AM

Originally Posted By: Praeludium
wr -> Maybe my answer wasn't well written enough.
I just meant that being raised in a musical household is one of the thing that can lead a child to learn music very quickly. Nobody said it was the only factor. An awful lot of other things count. That'd be why it's so rare to see child prodigies (I think child prodigies are over-rated anyway but that's not the subject) - it musn't be very often that all the right conditions needed are there.



Well, it is getting rather tautological at this point, I think - the only set of "right conditions" is the one that produces the exceptional performer, and in fact, that's how the conditions are defined as being the right ones.

And you seem to be saying that it is all so vastly complex that the set of conditions producing such a performer is not something we can describe. But yet, even though you can't really say what all of these conditions may be, you somehow have figured out that whatever they are, none of them can possibly take the form of an innate predisposition for music, i.e., "talent".

Myself, I think that, given how it seems that genetic science is almost daily coming up with new information regarding how all sorts of aspects of our lives and personalities may be "innate" (that is, coded in our genetic makeup), I imagine that it's only a matter of time before a group of genetic markers are identified as a factor in musical "talent". That kind of thing is already happening in athletics. Once that happens regarding music, it will be interesting to see how its relative importance as a factor will be seen.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/14/13 09:19 AM

So anyone can compose on the level of Mozart with enough hard work? That argument just doesn't hold water.
Posted by: King Cole

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/14/13 10:26 AM

Some of your arguments that talent is the deciding factor in all of this are absolutely fascinating. Talent has yet to been quantified, we don't even know the correlatives to talent. Does it mean that you'll reach a point and never make significant improvement? Does it mean that you'll learn things quicker?? Puleeeze! Jaques Lacan would love to do psychoanalysis on you guys because it's so obvious what's happening. If you didn't excel like other "gifted and talented" students then you can remove the psychological burden of blaming yourself for your failures and say well it must be talent which is completely outside of my control and so therefore its okay I'm not at fault, it is the mysterious forces of genetics that carries these people to their divine destiny of musical brilliance.

What if talent does play a large part? Consider the following the scenario. Two students starting at age 7 (like Liszt) study under the same teacher for 2 years. Student A practices 4 hours a day and Student B practices 2 hours a day. Student A plays a more difficult piece than Student B. Both students play in a recital and afterwards a member of the audience exclaims "Student B is very talented!"

Now what's wrong with this picture?


However to Hakki's point, if my questions weren't meaningful then the answers I've received were even more meaningless. Clearly many of you didn't even read my entire first post. It's pretty much asking what should one's daily practice routine look like but I digress. I'll just follow my teacher's customized syllabus
Posted by: Damon

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/14/13 10:49 AM

Originally Posted By: King Cole
I'll just follow my teacher's customized syllabus


Good idea!
Posted by: slipperykeys

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/14/13 11:14 AM

Originally Posted By: King Cole
Some of your arguments that talent is the deciding factor in all of this are absolutely fascinating. Talent has yet to been quantified, we don't even know the correlatives to talent. Does it mean that you'll reach a point and never make significant improvement? Does it mean that you'll learn things quicker?? Puleeeze!

"For talent itself, in its most general sense-that exhibition of a strong bias toward some particular pursuit, may be defined, from its results, as simply: ability to learn with ease.

Tobias Matthay, "First Principles of PIANOFORTE PLAYING"

http://archive.org/details/firstprincipleso00mattiala

Click, PDF under, "View the book" and save to download a copy, the talent bit is on page 37.

Of course, being an English snobe (that's like a snob, but posher) I have a hard copy!
Posted by: boo1234

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/14/13 11:58 AM

I haven not read all the replies, but I believe that the ceiling on technique is genetically dependent to a great extent. I think of the top pianists in the world in the same way that I do the top athletes in the world. Some people have just won the genetic lottery and have the musculature, nervous system response, skills etc. that 99.9% of people in the world will never have, despite how much work they put into it. Everyone is NOT created equal, no matter how much we would like to believe it is true. There is an element of luck involved too. You need to be born into a situation where your inherent genetic talents and skills can be fostered and honed.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/14/13 12:01 PM


Leaving the the talent/piano thing aside, apply "talent" to singing.

The concept that talent does not exist, and that one can achieve much improvement (or greatness) simply by working correctly and hard falls apart with singing.

You are either born with the pipes, or you aren't.

I don't have the pipes. But for decades I have faithfully worked hard to improve my singing, with 3 different teachers, and all it has done is make me a better lousy singer. laugh

I now have breath control, know how to shape the vowels, to pace the lyrics, etc, and, because of my other musical training, I know rhythms, repertoire, etc, but because I was not born with the pipes, I will never ever achieve the level of a gifted talented singer.
Posted by: slipperykeys

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/14/13 12:31 PM

Originally Posted By: rocket88

Leaving the the talent/piano thing aside, apply "talent" to singing.

The concept that talent does not exist, and that one can achieve much improvement (or greatness) simply by working correctly and hard falls apart with singing.

You are either born with the pipes, or you aren't.

I don't have the pipes. But for decades I have faithfully worked hard to improve my singing, with 3 different teachers, and all it has done is make me a better lousy singer. laugh

I now have breath control, know how to shape the vowels, to pace the lyrics, etc, and, because of my other musical training, I know rhythms, repertoire, etc, but because I was not born with the pipes, I will never ever achieve the level of a gifted talented singer.


There is a distinction between ability and talent.

For example, the most talented pianist in the world cannot play a piano if he doesn't have one.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/14/13 12:56 PM

Originally Posted By: slipperykeys
Originally Posted By: rocket88

Leaving the the talent/piano thing aside, apply "talent" to singing.

The concept that talent does not exist, and that one can achieve much improvement (or greatness) simply by working correctly and hard falls apart with singing.

You are either born with the pipes, or you aren't.

I don't have the pipes. But for decades I have faithfully worked hard to improve my singing, with 3 different teachers, and all it has done is make me a better lousy singer. laugh

I now have breath control, know how to shape the vowels, to pace the lyrics, etc, and, because of my other musical training, I know rhythms, repertoire, etc, but because I was not born with the pipes, I will never ever achieve the level of a gifted talented singer.


There is a distinction between ability and talent.

For example, the most talented pianist in the world cannot play a piano if he doesn't have one.


Good example.. if you were comparing it to a person lacking a larynx.
Posted by: sophial

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/14/13 01:13 PM

Originally Posted By: boo1234
I haven not read all the replies, but I believe that the ceiling on technique is genetically dependent to a great extent. I think of the top pianists in the world in the same way that I do the top athletes in the world. Some people have just won the genetic lottery and have the musculature, nervous system response, skills etc. that 99.9% of people in the world will never have, despite how much work they put into it. Everyone is NOT created equal, no matter how much we would like to believe it is true. There is an element of luck involved too. You need to be born into a situation where your inherent genetic talents and skills can be fostered and honed.


Agree and well stated. The normal curve applies here as it does to just about every other facet of human endeavor. Training and disciplined practice can hone abilities, but cannot completely make up for the degree of innate aptitude someone brings to the table.
Posted by: sophial

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/14/13 01:19 PM

Originally Posted By: rocket88

Leaving the the talent/piano thing aside, apply "talent" to singing.

The concept that talent does not exist, and that one can achieve much improvement (or greatness) simply by working correctly and hard falls apart with singing.

You are either born with the pipes, or you aren't.

I don't have the pipes. But for decades I have faithfully worked hard to improve my singing, with 3 different teachers, and all it has done is make me a better lousy singer. laugh

I now have breath control, know how to shape the vowels, to pace the lyrics, etc, and, because of my other musical training, I know rhythms, repertoire, etc, but because I was not born with the pipes, I will never ever achieve the level of a gifted talented singer.


right-- no matter how many singing lessons I take, I'll never sound like Renee Fleming or even Bette Midler ! smile (love them both)
Posted by: slipperykeys

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/14/13 01:24 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: slipperykeys
Originally Posted By: rocket88

Leaving the the talent/piano thing aside, apply "talent" to singing.

The concept that talent does not exist, and that one can achieve much improvement (or greatness) simply by working correctly and hard falls apart with singing.

You are either born with the pipes, or you aren't.

I don't have the pipes. But for decades I have faithfully worked hard to improve my singing, with 3 different teachers, and all it has done is make me a better lousy singer. laugh

I now have breath control, know how to shape the vowels, to pace the lyrics, etc, and, because of my other musical training, I know rhythms, repertoire, etc, but because I was not born with the pipes, I will never ever achieve the level of a gifted talented singer.


There is a distinction between ability and talent.

For example, the most talented pianist in the world cannot play a piano if he doesn't have one.


Good example.. if you were comparing it to a person lacking a larynx.


Not at all, a disabled person could be talented but unable to play the piano they have!

The first qualification is ability.

Talent is a different thing.

Perhaps this will help you grasp this tricky concept.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ability

""""" Ability is the mental or physical power to do something:""""


http://www.thefreedictionary.com/talent


""a. Natural endowment or ability of a superior quality.
b. A person or group of people having such ability: The company makes good use of its talent.""""


See how both words are applicable, for certain situations, but being able does not mean you have talent and being talented does not mean you are able.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/14/13 01:53 PM

Originally Posted By: wr
Once that happens regarding music, it will be interesting to see how its relative importance as a factor will be seen.




Good evening. For my part I don't see it as interesting at all, at least until playing piano becomes an olympic sport!

To me, it seems much more useful to have a good musical education more widely accessible, than to try to see how to select genetically-disposed specimens.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/14/13 02:15 PM

Originally Posted By: slipperykeys
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: slipperykeys
Originally Posted By: rocket88

Leaving the the talent/piano thing aside, apply "talent" to singing.

The concept that talent does not exist, and that one can achieve much improvement (or greatness) simply by working correctly and hard falls apart with singing.

You are either born with the pipes, or you aren't.

I don't have the pipes. But for decades I have faithfully worked hard to improve my singing, with 3 different teachers, and all it has done is make me a better lousy singer. laugh

I now have breath control, know how to shape the vowels, to pace the lyrics, etc, and, because of my other musical training, I know rhythms, repertoire, etc, but because I was not born with the pipes, I will never ever achieve the level of a gifted talented singer.


There is a distinction between ability and talent.

For example, the most talented pianist in the world cannot play a piano if he doesn't have one.


Good example.. if you were comparing it to a person lacking a larynx.


Not at all, a disabled person could be talented but unable to play the piano they have!

The first qualification is ability.

Talent is a different thing.

Perhaps this will help you grasp this tricky concept.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ability

""""" Ability is the mental or physical power to do something:""""


http://www.thefreedictionary.com/talent


""a. Natural endowment or ability of a superior quality.
b. A person or group of people having such ability: The company makes good use of its talent.""""


See how both words are applicable, for certain situations, but being able does not mean you have talent and being talented does not mean you are able.


No don't worry, I completely get it. I understand what you're saying now. Let's say Lang Lang breaks his hands tomorrow, he will obviously still be talented. Talent lies in the brain, not the hands. (or larynx) I get it. smile
Posted by: slipperykeys

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/14/13 04:12 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: slipperykeys
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: slipperykeys
Originally Posted By: rocket88

Leaving the the talent/piano thing aside, apply "talent" to singing.

The concept that talent does not exist, and that one can achieve much improvement (or greatness) simply by working correctly and hard falls apart with singing.

You are either born with the pipes, or you aren't.

I don't have the pipes. But for decades I have faithfully worked hard to improve my singing, with 3 different teachers, and all it has done is make me a better lousy singer. laugh

I now have breath control, know how to shape the vowels, to pace the lyrics, etc, and, because of my other musical training, I know rhythms, repertoire, etc, but because I was not born with the pipes, I will never ever achieve the level of a gifted talented singer.


There is a distinction between ability and talent.

For example, the most talented pianist in the world cannot play a piano if he doesn't have one.


Good example.. if you were comparing it to a person lacking a larynx.


Not at all, a disabled person could be talented but unable to play the piano they have!

The first qualification is ability.

Talent is a different thing.

Perhaps this will help you grasp this tricky concept.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ability

""""" Ability is the mental or physical power to do something:""""


http://www.thefreedictionary.com/talent


""a. Natural endowment or ability of a superior quality.
b. A person or group of people having such ability: The company makes good use of its talent.""""


See how both words are applicable, for certain situations, but being able does not mean you have talent and being talented does not mean you are able.


No don't worry, I completely get it. I understand what you're saying now. Let's say Lang Lang breaks his hands tomorrow, he will obviously still be talented. Talent lies in the brain, not the hands. (or larynx) I get it. smile


I have managed (at last) to copy the Matthey piece on talent, I hope this helps a bit, although of course, who knows, he may be wrong?

INTRODUCTORY. 37
"PIANO-TALENT"
Note IV.—For§§ 3 and 5, Chapter V., pages 32 and 34. Here once
again, is a point where natural endowment differs widely. Those who, without
effort, unconsciously give Attention with full purpose, possess indeed
•' talent" in the most important respect of all :

For talent itself, in its most general sense—that exhibition of a strong
bias toward some particular pursuit, may be denned, from its results, as simply
: ability to learn tvith ease.
Now our ability to learn anything, directly depends on the power of our
Memory— its impressionability, and its retentiveness ; and memorizing again
directly depends on the degree of Attention we can provide. Hence, it is,
that Power of Attention, or ability to acquire this, is synonymous with : good
memory, ease in learning, and in a word "Talent."
A few words of Summary, may prevent misapprehension with regard to
the question of Pianoforte '
' talent :
"

Special phases of endowment are needed in addition to general Musicality.
These are : a good " piano-voice "—the possession of a sufficiently ample
muscular endowment, combined with Ease in mental-muscular discrimination ;
a good " Ear," not only for Time, but also particularly for the discernment
of subtle distinctions in tone-quantity, and above all, in tone-Quality ; " Brains "
to enable Attention to be given, combined with a personal bias toward giving
the particular form of Attention demanded in playing.
These particular endowments are nevertheless not very far-reaching, unless
there be besides, a general endowment musically. Musical imaginativeness is
required, both emotionally and intellectually. Without that, nothing vivid
can be done, however excellent the other, the special, phases of Talent.
Moreover, even such endowments do not constitute a player. To succeed
as an Artist, we need besides all that, PERSISTENCE. That depends on
character, on our real love for the Art, and whether we possess Health sound
enough to stand the necessary close application.
For eventually, as Rubinstein once said to us Royal Academy Students
:
"real Hard Work is the only road to success."
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/14/13 05:11 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: slipperykeys
Originally Posted By: rocket88

Leaving the the talent/piano thing aside, apply "talent" to singing.

The concept that talent does not exist, and that one can achieve much improvement (or greatness) simply by working correctly and hard falls apart with singing.

You are either born with the pipes, or you aren't.

I don't have the pipes. But for decades I have faithfully worked hard to improve my singing, with 3 different teachers, and all it has done is make me a better lousy singer. laugh

I now have breath control, know how to shape the vowels, to pace the lyrics, etc, and, because of my other musical training, I know rhythms, repertoire, etc, but because I was not born with the pipes, I will never ever achieve the level of a gifted talented singer.


There is a distinction between ability and talent.

For example, the most talented pianist in the world cannot play a piano if he doesn't have one.


Good example.. if you were comparing it to a person lacking a larynx.

Sorry, but this is not an argument in favor of "talent". It has nothing to do with the premise of what "talent" is (according to those who have posted in favor of its existence), and we had agreed (at the onset) to leave physicality out of the discussion of "talent". It's like saying someone with a Ferrari F1 premiere race car is a better driver than someone with a street-sold 1984 Hyundai because they can complete the road course faster.

Originally Posted By: slipperykeys
Originally Posted By: King Cole
Some of your arguments that talent is the deciding factor in all of this are absolutely fascinating. Talent has yet to been quantified, we don't even know the correlatives to talent. Does it mean that you'll reach a point and never make significant improvement? Does it mean that you'll learn things quicker?? Puleeeze!

"For talent itself, in its most general sense-that exhibition of a strong bias toward some particular pursuit, may be defined, from its results, as simply: ability to learn with ease.

Tobias Matthay, "First Principles of PIANOFORTE PLAYING"

http://archive.org/details/firstprincipleso00mattiala

Click, PDF under, "View the book" and save to download a copy, the talent bit is on page 37.

Of course, being an English snobe (that's like a snob, but posher) I have a hard copy!

So, what you're saying is that, because someone developed the knowledge/ability of how to learn, they are more "talented" than someone who has not developed the knowledge/ability of how to learn? Still sounds to me like a lack of understanding in describing why someone "without talent" can't learn as well as someone "with talent". Which still indicates to me that no one has provided an accurate description of exactly what "talent" is. And, of course, there has been no evidence provided of its existence (that hasn't been easily refuted).
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/14/13 05:32 PM

In the first Steinway Magazine of 2012 Sergey Babayan says this about Daniil Trifonov. "A talent like his is born maybe once every 100 years. He breathes music."(My boldface) Of course, Babayan is only one of the most important teachers in the world so he wouldn't know much about whether talent exists or whether it is something one is born with.
Posted by: Mwm

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/14/13 06:17 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
In the first Steinway Magazine of 2012 Sergey Babayan says this about Daniil Trifonov. "A talent like his is born maybe once every 100 years. He breathes music."(My boldface) Of course, Babayan is only one of the most important teachers in the world so he wouldn't know much about whether talent exists or whether it is something one is born with.


Did you mean "...whether talent is acquired or whether it is something one is born with" ?
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/14/13 07:21 PM

Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
In the first Steinway Magazine of 2012 Sergey Babayan says this about Daniil Trifonov. "A talent like his is born maybe once every 100 years. He breathes music."(My boldface) Of course, Babayan is only one of the most important teachers in the world so he wouldn't know much about whether talent exists or whether it is something one is born with.


Did you mean "...whether talent is acquired or whether it is something one is born with" ?

That's probably what he intended to say.

And, to add my opinion to this issue: Talent is innate; you are born with it. Skill is acquired, and is usually a combination of talent and hard work.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/14/13 07:26 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
In the first Steinway Magazine of 2012 Sergey Babayan says this about Daniil Trifonov. "A talent like his is born maybe once every 100 years. He breathes music."(My boldface) Of course, Babayan is only one of the most important teachers in the world so he wouldn't know much about whether talent exists or whether it is something one is born with.



What a ridiculous thing for Babayan to say. What about all of the other pianists out there? Is Trifonov the next best thing since Horowitz? I don't even find him all that good to be honest. His Chopin op. 25 is fantastic, but everything else that I've heard I find to be nothing special.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/14/13 07:28 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
In the first Steinway Magazine of 2012 Sergey Babayan says this about Daniil Trifonov. "A talent like his is born maybe once every 100 years. He breathes music."(My boldface) Of course, Babayan is only one of the most important teachers in the world so he wouldn't know much about whether talent exists or whether it is something one is born with.


Did you mean "...whether talent is acquired or whether it is something one is born with" ?

That's probably what he intended to say.

And, to add my opinion to this issue: Talent is innate; you are born with it. Skill is acquired, and is usually a combination of talent and hard work.
Actually, I didn't mean to say that although it would have been reasonable.

My point was a few people on the thread think that talent(as it normally used and how it is defined)doesn't really exist but Babayan clearly does and clearly is using it in its normal meaning as something one is born with.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/14/13 08:07 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
In the first Steinway Magazine of 2012 Sergey Babayan says this about Daniil Trifonov. "A talent like his is born maybe once every 100 years. He breathes music."(My boldface) Of course, Babayan is only one of the most important teachers in the world so he wouldn't know much about whether talent exists or whether it is something one is born with.


Did you mean "...whether talent is acquired or whether it is something one is born with" ?

That's probably what he intended to say.

And, to add my opinion to this issue: Talent is innate; you are born with it. Skill is acquired, and is usually a combination of talent and hard work.
Actually, I didn't mean to say that although it would have been reasonable.

My point was a few people on the thread think that talent(as it normally used and how it is defined)doesn't really exist but Babayan clearly does and clearly is using it in its normal meaning as something one is born with.

Is this your "evidence"? Someone else used the term in reference to someone else, and this clearly indicates the thing itself exists?

Using that theory, the Earth should still be the center of the Universe. For that matter, it should also still be flat.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/14/13 08:49 PM

Close this thread already.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/14/13 09:29 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Close this thread already.

I second the motion.
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/14/13 09:59 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Close this thread already.

I second the motion.


Someone or something must be forcing you to read it against your will, because otherwise, you could simply not click on it if you don't want to read it.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 04:25 AM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
So anyone can compose on the level of Mozart with enough hard work? That argument just doesn't hold water.


I don't believe that anyone here is expressing a "enough hard work" argument.

As for Mozart, though, he represents the worst example possible if you want to prove the importance or even the existence of talent.

When you take account of the extremely high cultural level in which he grew up: a bourgeois family in Salzbourg, Austria in the middle of the 18th century, the Enlightenment. A family of musicians, a father who was kapellmeister, composer, pedagogue, who taught the older sister at home.

You don't realize the richness and the power of circumstances such as these.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 05:05 AM

Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: JoelW
So anyone can compose on the level of Mozart with enough hard work? That argument just doesn't hold water.


I don't believe that anyone here is expressing a "enough hard work" argument.

As for Mozart, though, he represents the worst example possible if you want to prove the importance or even the existence of talent.

When you take account of the extremely high cultural level in which he grew up: a bourgeois family in Salzbourg, Austria in the middle of the 18th century, the Enlightenment. A family of musicians, a father who was kapellmeister, composer, pedagogue, who taught the older sister at home.

You don't realize the richness and the power of circumstances such as these.



Then why weren't all of the other kids with the same situation becoming Mozart-level musicians? Mozart wasn't the only one in that situation...
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 09:27 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulu
Is this your "evidence"? Someone else used the term in reference to someone else, and this clearly indicates the thing itself exists?
You talk as if the "someone" I quoted is a random person on the street. I quoted one the major teachers on the planet who probably knew more about music when he was 12 then you or I will ever know. These are the type of people who I think really know if talent exists and what it means.

My view is that when one hears someone like Trifonov play it is so astounding that it is almost impossible to believe that this would be possible without some kind of gift that is innate. And I think an overwhelming percentage of people agree.

The dictionary definition of the word talent includes the fact that it is innate. You may not like this, but this is how most people use this word for a long time.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 12:52 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: JoelW
So anyone can compose on the level of Mozart with enough hard work? That argument just doesn't hold water.


I don't believe that anyone here is expressing a "enough hard work" argument.

As for Mozart, though, he represents the worst example possible if you want to prove the importance or even the existence of talent.

When you take account of the extremely high cultural level in which he grew up: a bourgeois family in Salzbourg, Austria in the middle of the 18th century, the Enlightenment. A family of musicians, a father who was kapellmeister, composer, pedagogue, who taught the older sister at home.

You don't realize the richness and the power of circumstances such as these.



Then why weren't all of the other kids with the same situation becoming Mozart-level musicians? Mozart wasn't the only one in that situation...

This has been repeated, but I suppose another iteration won't do any harm. smile

There are many variables that go into the making of a Mozart. One such variable is this: he wanted to. Obviously, someone who grows up inside a tuba, but wants to be a blacksmith, will never take to the tuba.

For those who wanted to, Mozart more-than-likely worked very differently than them.

As for the enduring fame he has enjoyed, there are multiple factors that go into that, but I don't want to side-track the thread with a discussion of fame or popularity. We've had those threads before, too. smile

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
You talk as if the "someone" I quoted is a random person on the street. I quoted one the major teachers on the planet who probably knew more about music when he was 12 then you or I will ever know. These are the type of people who I think really know if talent exists and what it means.

Did I do any less? Some of the foremost thinkers in world history believed in geocentrism, and/or the idea of a "flat" Earth. (Same goes for the earlier example of "Zeus" that I used in reference to a thunderstorm.) Heck, for a third example, let's use Isaac Newton and gravity. His equation is also wrong (if you don't allow for tolerances, which you really shouldn't if you're trying to determine exactly what's going on).

I've been using physics, but we could also use religion. Those of us who do not believe in God fly in the face of the Pope's theory, who, arguably, knows the most about the subject. We can say the same for all monotheistic names for God, all polytheistic beliefs, all past mythologies that are no longer worshiped.

Point is, hearsay, conjecture and belief are not evidence.

I have absolutely no problem if you believe in the idea of talent. Believe me, I'm not that overbearing that I think "my way" is right. But if you want to prove it to me--and I would sincerely like us to keep trying, because I'm enjoying the discussion--it has to be real evidence. (And if you did somehow manage to prove it, I would openly change my own belief to match the new evidence available.) smile

Quote:
The dictionary definition of the word talent includes the fact that it is innate. You may not like this, but this is how most people use this word for a long time.

Yep, I'm aware of both points. I have no problem with how other people view talent--I simply believe their position is untenable. And I wouldn't bring it up in passing conversation, either; we just happen to have the question posed, and hopefully for those of us partaking, have been enjoying the discussion and opposing viewpoints of the participants.

To your "popularism" suggestion: Geocentrism is also in the dictionary. Does that mean the Earth is the center of the universe? Or, perhaps an even better argument, when everyone believed it was true, did that necessarily make it true? wink
Posted by: Okiikahuna

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 01:34 PM

Arguing about the correct definition of a word is a very different thing from a discussion of the relative importance of different influences on a musician's development. Sometimes these semantic arguments arise simply because a word has so much baggage attached to it from being used so often by different people to mean so many different things, that it is not clear whether people are arguing about the meaning of the word or something else. But, when people don't agree on the meaning of terms, they often mix these very different issues.

So, why not just toss the word "talent." Pick a word such as "innate aptitude" to refer to whatever aptitude one is born with. Use another word, say "nurture" to describe the aptitude that comes from nurture and exposure at a very young age when one's synapses are still being developed and then you can discuss your opinions about the relative importance, or even existence, of any one of these elements without it being an argument about the correct definition of a word.

I personally think that would be a more interesting discussion than the correct definition of the word "talent." Others may disagree.

K.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 01:43 PM

Originally Posted By: Okiikahuna
Arguing about the correct definition of a word is a very different thing from a discussion of the relative importance of different influences on a musician's development. Sometimes these semantic arguments arise simply because a word has so much baggage attached to it from being used so often by different people to mean so many different things, that it is not clear whether people are arguing about the meaning of the word or something else. But, when people don't agree on the meaning of terms, they often mix these very different issues.

So, why not just toss the word "talent." Pick a word such as "innate aptitude" to refer to whatever aptitude one is born with. Use another word, say "nurture" to describe the aptitude that comes from nurture and exposure at a very young age when one's synapses are still being developed and then you can discuss your opinions about the relative importance, or even existence, of any one of these elements without it being an argument about the correct definition of a word.

I personally think that would be a more interesting discussion than the correct definition of the word "talent." Others may disagree.

K.

We're not discussing the "correct definition" of the word "talent". We are, in fact, discussing whether it exists at all -- or at least, that has been the premise of my involvement in said discussion. smile
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 02:33 PM

Derulux,

The variables you speak of are not sufficient by themselves for the making of a Mozart.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 02:42 PM

Anyone can sing, but only people with talent can sing well.

What's the difference between the winners of American Idol and the many thousands and thousands of people who don't even make it through the auditions? The winners have a lot of talent.

Do you honestly believe that those horrible singers that don't make it to Hollywood don't WANT to be great singers? You don't think they LOVE music?
Posted by: Mwm

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 04:18 PM

You actually place American Idol and Talent in the same context? Shame!
Posted by: Mwm

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 04:19 PM

Bowling for Dollars. Now there is Talent.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 04:28 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Derulux,

The variables you speak of are not sufficient by themselves for the making of a Mozart.

I have spoken of maybe five or six of five thousand or more variables. Every single moment of every day, a new variable may be added. And since Mozart died over 200 years ago, it is impossible to say for certain which variables impacted his life. I'm all for discussing the topic, but this is borderline ridiculous. wink
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 04:36 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Derulux,

The variables you speak of are not sufficient by themselves for the making of a Mozart.

I have spoken of maybe five or six of five thousand or more variables. Every single moment of every day, a new variable may be added. And since Mozart died over 200 years ago, it is impossible to say for certain which variables impacted his life. I'm all for discussing the topic, but this is borderline ridiculous. wink


Your stance is what's ridiculous, to be blunt.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 04:38 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Derulux,

The variables you speak of are not sufficient by themselves for the making of a Mozart.

I have spoken of maybe five or six of five thousand or more variables. Every single moment of every day, a new variable may be added. And since Mozart died over 200 years ago, it is impossible to say for certain which variables impacted his life. I'm all for discussing the topic, but this is borderline ridiculous. wink


Your stance is what's ridiculous, to be blunt.

The thread is even more ridiculous...
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 04:45 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Derulux,

The variables you speak of are not sufficient by themselves for the making of a Mozart.

I have spoken of maybe five or six of five thousand or more variables. Every single moment of every day, a new variable may be added. And since Mozart died over 200 years ago, it is impossible to say for certain which variables impacted his life. I'm all for discussing the topic, but this is borderline ridiculous. wink


Your stance is what's ridiculous, to be blunt.

The thread is even more ridiculous...


I'm in favor of it being locked.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 04:52 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Derulux,

The variables you speak of are not sufficient by themselves for the making of a Mozart.

I have spoken of maybe five or six of five thousand or more variables. Every single moment of every day, a new variable may be added. And since Mozart died over 200 years ago, it is impossible to say for certain which variables impacted his life. I'm all for discussing the topic, but this is borderline ridiculous. wink


Your stance is what's ridiculous, to be blunt.

I don't mind bluntness. smile

My question, which has yet to be adequately explained, is why? No one who believes in "talent" has been able to provide any examples of concrete proof of the existence of "talent". Why, then, is my stance the one that seems ridiculous? wink

PS- if we're not going to add anything academic to the discussion, then for the sake of those who are putting in a little more effort, let's not respond. It sidetracks and derails an otherwise interesting conversation, and one that I am enjoying. If you find that you aren't enjoying it, you don't need the thread locked--simply stop reading it.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 05:00 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Derulux,

The variables you speak of are not sufficient by themselves for the making of a Mozart.

I have spoken of maybe five or six of five thousand or more variables. Every single moment of every day, a new variable may be added. And since Mozart died over 200 years ago, it is impossible to say for certain which variables impacted his life. I'm all for discussing the topic, but this is borderline ridiculous. wink


Your stance is what's ridiculous, to be blunt.

The thread is even more ridiculous...


I'm in favor of it being locked.

No use in saying it anymore...let the moderators come and decide for themselves. wink
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 05:06 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Derulux,

The variables you speak of are not sufficient by themselves for the making of a Mozart.

I have spoken of maybe five or six of five thousand or more variables. Every single moment of every day, a new variable may be added. And since Mozart died over 200 years ago, it is impossible to say for certain which variables impacted his life. I'm all for discussing the topic, but this is borderline ridiculous. wink


Your stance is what's ridiculous, to be blunt.

I don't mind bluntness. smile

My question, which has yet to be adequately explained, is why? No one who believes in "talent" has been able to provide any examples of concrete proof of the existence of "talent". Why, then, is my stance the one that seems ridiculous? wink


I mentioned the human brain many posts back, to which you replied with something along the lines of "I think all of our brains are basically wired the same". That's like saying our genetic makeups are all the same. The brain is an incredibly complex thing with room for a lot of variation. Different personalities, different tastes, different interests, different TALENTS... for you to just write it off as nothing important is just willful ignorance.

We aren't all the same. Get used to that fact. Talent does exist and it lies in the wiring of the individual's brain. Everything about anyone lies in their brain.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 06:14 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
My question, which has yet to be adequately explained, is why? No one who believes in "talent" has been able to provide any examples of concrete proof of the existence of "talent". Why, then, is my stance the one that seems ridiculous? wink
I don't think your stance is ridiculous but the way talent is usually considered makes it almost impossible to provide concrete proof for it. OTOH I think so many people believe in that talent(as in "born with it")exists because the greatest pianists play so well at such a young age that even if they had every other advantage of the type you've mentioned it would not be enough to explain their greatness.
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 06:58 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux


My question, which has yet to be adequately explained, is why? No one who believes in "talent" has been able to provide any examples of concrete proof of the existence of "talent". Why, then, is my stance the one that seems ridiculous? wink



It is somewhat like asking for concrete evidence of "love" or "beauty". There may be none, but yet, many people mysteriously act as if those things exist.

Whether or not there is concrete "scientific" evidence for a concept that is intangible but which is still evident to a reasonably observant person who sees it (especially if it is a person who is trained in the area in which it appears) is probably not critical to its existence.

And too, if one could provide evidence that talent exists, what would that evidence look like? In previous threads here regarding talent, IIRC, some writings and studies on the subject that were cited seemed more controversial than satisfactory.
Posted by: Old Man

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 07:22 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
My question, which has yet to be adequately explained, is why? No one who believes in "talent" has been able to provide any examples of concrete proof of the existence of "talent". Why, then, is my stance the one that seems ridiculous? wink

I'm very late to this party, but as another one of your many admirers, Derulux, I'm astounded by your statements. Yes, yes, exposure to music at home, nurturing parents, great teachers, slaving away at the piano for 25 hours a day, yada, yada, yada, is all important. But none of it means anything without native talent. It is not simply one of many components of great piano playing, it is the bedrock. It is foundational. It is the sine qua non. All of the other things you've mentioned are important, but without innate musical talent, these thousands of variables will never produce a great pianist, or even a very good pianist.

You seem to demand some sort of proof of its existence, but talent falls into the category of "I know it when I see it", and doesn't easily lend itself to measurement or simple proofs. But I think correlation works pretty well. How many of the world's great pianists were not prodigies? Can you point to an example of someone who struggled for 10, 15, 20 years, and through sheer determination, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, finally reached the pinnacle of their art? A prodigy is one who displays exceptional ability or talent at a very young age, talent that is so extraordinary as to be unexplainable by the factors you have cited. What four, five, or six-year old child could possibly practice the 4-8 hours a day that even many of the greatest pianists spend practicing? You'd be lucky to get 30-60 minutes from one so young. Yet such young pianists do exist, are quickly recognized as prodigies, and progress at a rate far beyond their peers, regardless of their practice regimen.

So how would you explain such prodigies? Do you really believe it's all environmental? If you do, I must strongly disagree. smile
Posted by: ChopinAddict

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 07:27 PM

It is a very old debate called nature vs. nurture.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 07:34 PM

Originally Posted By: ChopinAddict
It is a very old debate called nature vs. nurture.


But it's not an either or. It's both.
Posted by: ChopinAddict

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 07:36 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: ChopinAddict
It is a very old debate called nature vs. nurture.


But it's not an either or. It's both.


I certainly agree!
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 08:00 PM

Originally Posted By: ChopinAddict
It is a very old debate called nature vs. nurture.


Well, yes, but what we have here is someone asking for evidence that the "nature" part even exists!!
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 08:25 PM

When Yehudi Menuhin played some concerts at a very young age no one made comments like "he must have practiced a lot or his parents enocuraged him or he had fantastic teachers". They said things like "An angel came down from heaven".
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 08:26 PM

Double post deleted
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/15/13 08:52 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Derulux,

The variables you speak of are not sufficient by themselves for the making of a Mozart.

I have spoken of maybe five or six of five thousand or more variables. Every single moment of every day, a new variable may be added. And since Mozart died over 200 years ago, it is impossible to say for certain which variables impacted his life. I'm all for discussing the topic, but this is borderline ridiculous. wink


Your stance is what's ridiculous, to be blunt.

I don't mind bluntness. smile

My question, which has yet to be adequately explained, is why? No one who believes in "talent" has been able to provide any examples of concrete proof of the existence of "talent". Why, then, is my stance the one that seems ridiculous? wink


I mentioned the human brain many posts back, to which you replied with something along the lines of "I think all of our brains are basically wired the same". That's like saying our genetic makeups are all the same. The brain is an incredibly complex thing with room for a lot of variation. Different personalities, different tastes, different interests, different TALENTS... for you to just write it off as nothing important is just willful ignorance.

We aren't all the same. Get used to that fact. Talent does exist and it lies in the wiring of the individual's brain. Everything about anyone lies in their brain.

Yeah, I remember that. I'm not sure I'm the one who responded with that remark. We are basically the same as chimpanzees, too, with very few differences--yet those differences are critical.

If we want to side-track into a discussion of brain chemistry, intelligence, etc, I'm okay doing that. But let's start another thread for it. I think trying to discuss "talent" alongside those other topics might be difficult to follow.

Unless you are considering "talent" to mean "intelligence" or "brain chemistry", in which case I think you may have much more solid ground on which to stand. I'd probably even support that proposition, depending on the angle you took.

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Derulux
My question, which has yet to be adequately explained, is why? No one who believes in "talent" has been able to provide any examples of concrete proof of the existence of "talent". Why, then, is my stance the one that seems ridiculous? wink
I don't think your stance is ridiculous but the way talent is usually considered makes it almost impossible to provide concrete proof for it. OTOH I think so many people believe in that talent(as in "born with it")exists because the greatest pianists play so well at such a young age that even if they had every other advantage of the type you've mentioned it would not be enough to explain their greatness.

I didn't suppose you thought that. I think our conversation has been pretty academic and enlightening, at least for me.

I think these "greats" have a unique combination of intelligence, approach, and determination that gets them where they want to go. I don't classify this as some "innate" thing they've had since birth, but rather something they learn and develop as they grow. One possible exception is genetics--which I partially conceded to Joel--but I'm not sure I would necessarily classify genetics as "talent". Is this a meaningful direction to explore? If so, I'd be happy to do so..

Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Derulux


My question, which has yet to be adequately explained, is why? No one who believes in "talent" has been able to provide any examples of concrete proof of the existence of "talent". Why, then, is my stance the one that seems ridiculous? wink



It is somewhat like asking for concrete evidence of "love" or "beauty". There may be none, but yet, many people mysteriously act as if those things exist.

Whether or not there is concrete "scientific" evidence for a concept that is intangible but which is still evident to a reasonably observant person who sees it (especially if it is a person who is trained in the area in which it appears) is probably not critical to its existence.

And too, if one could provide evidence that talent exists, what would that evidence look like? In previous threads here regarding talent, IIRC, some writings and studies on the subject that were cited seemed more controversial than satisfactory.

I'm glad you brought up love. Hasn't that been proven to be a base chemical reaction in the brain? I think there was one (hopefully facetious) study that linked "love" to "attachment disorder". I'll have to find it.. not for the sake of a serious discussion, but for humor.

On a more serious note, I wish I could say what that evidence would look like. As yet, I've seen nothing that could qualify, so I can't even say "we're on the right track here." Maybe the genetics discussion is heading in the right direction? I'm not sure..?

Originally Posted By: Old Man
I'm very late to this party, but as another one of your many admirers, Derulux, I'm astounded by your statements.

Thank you. Yes, I know--sometimes I say some pretty unpopular things for the sake of academic discourse. wink

Quote:
All of the other things you've mentioned are important, but without innate musical talent, these thousands of variables will never produce a great pianist, or even a very good pianist.

You seem to demand some sort of proof of its existence, but talent falls into the category of "I know it when I see it", and doesn't easily lend itself to measurement or simple proofs. But I think correlation works pretty well. How many of the world's great pianists were not prodigies? Can you point to an example of someone who struggled for 10, 15, 20 years, and through sheer determination, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, finally reached the pinnacle of their art? A prodigy is one who displays exceptional ability or talent at a very young age, talent that is so extraordinary as to be unexplainable by the factors you have cited. What four, five, or six-year old child could possibly practice the 4-8 hours a day that even many of the greatest pianists spend practicing? You'd be lucky to get 30-60 minutes from one so young. Yet such young pianists do exist, are quickly recognized as prodigies, and progress at a rate far beyond their peers, regardless of their practice regimen.

So how would you explain such prodigies? Do you really believe it's all environmental? If you do, I must strongly disagree.

I think you bring up some very good points here, but I'm not sure that they help you. When we consider "great" pianists, we are also technically considering "popular" pianists (in that they are well-known). For one to reach the performance stage and gain that popularity, one has a MUCH better chance by starting at a young age-- from a sheer marketing perspective. So, I'm not sure that even that could be considered an isolated incidence.

I'm a little short on time with this response--I would like to get into more details with you. But I quite literally have to run out the door. I'll return later. smile

Update:

Thanks for the patience, and sorry I had to run out mid-reply. I like very much the, "I know it when I see it," idea because it implies that there is an actual reason, but that we don't consciously recognize what that reason is. This is the first step towards realizing that there is something special going on. Unfortunately, I think most people stop there, call it "talent", and then call it a day. But we can dig so much deeper--we can discover exactly what it is we "see". Perhaps, if it were to seem interesting enough, we could start a thread to analyze the skills and background of some famous pianists and see if we can't find some common denominators? I should think this might be an intriguing academic study for those interested.

Quote:
Can you point to an example of someone who struggled for 10, 15, 20 years, and through sheer determination, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, finally reached the pinnacle of their art?

I would argue most famous pianists fall into this category. How old was Yuja Wang the first time she touched the keys? I think we can say she is just now coming into the pinnacle of her art, and broaching the horizon of broader fame. Of course, her musicality will evolve and change as a result of her experiences and maturity. But she's certainly well on her way. According to the bio I have on her, she started at six. She's now 26. That means, she's worked her tail off, and persevered for 20 long years to get where she is today.

I think what we see is a very young, 26 year old "prodigy" pianist, who is just so "talented", the industry couldn't deny her. But what I tend to see is someone who started on the right track at six, worked her tail off for twenty long years, made the right industry connections, had a little luck, and broke onto the music scene after a long road of sheer perseverance and determination.

We have some darn good players in this forum. They may never be as famous as some of the biggest names, but that doesn't mean they aren't every bit as good a pianist. And while I don't want to speak for any of them, I'm sure many of them would agree they have their own struggles at the keys.

Quote:
So how would you explain such prodigies? Do you really believe it's all environmental? If you do, I must strongly disagree.

I believe very strongly in the bio-psycho-social model. I've presented already that I believe we are not discussing failures in the bio model, because I qualify that under "missing a hand," or some other kind of handicap that prevents one from playing "normally" or without "undue difficulty".

That leaves us with psycho-social factors in determining how these "prodigies" come about. I believe (very basically) that these children enjoy what they are doing so much, that for the most part, they do not want to do anything else. Their family/friends environments enforce a strict and correct practice regimen that develops their enthusiasm into solid results. And they have such a desire for success that they will accept nothing less. They learn how to learn at a very young age, and adhere to that winning formula throughout their careers.
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/16/13 03:37 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux

I'm glad you brought up love. Hasn't that been proven to be a base chemical reaction in the brain? I think there was one (hopefully facetious) study that linked "love" to "attachment disorder". I'll have to find it.. not for the sake of a serious discussion, but for humor.

On a more serious note, I wish I could say what that evidence would look like. As yet, I've seen nothing that could qualify, so I can't even say "we're on the right track here." Maybe the genetics discussion is heading in the right direction? I'm not sure..?



There are all kinds of theories and research about love and brain chemistry, some more conclusive than others, and none quite covering all types of love. For example, I don't think anyone so far has tried to figure out the brain chemistry involved when I say I love the C# major P&F from WTC I.

But anyway, AFAIK, none of the researchers have claimed that their work is evidence that love, heretofore only a myth, actually exists.
Posted by: King Cole

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/16/13 04:38 AM

Well I have more talent than JoelW and Polyphonist put together.

The notion of talent isn't useless because it does or does not exist. Its useless or as Hakki puts its "not meaningful" because what is the usefulness in telling a student they need talent? You guys can't possibly be teachers because my goodness don't let a beginner struggle in front of your eyes because you'd promptly kick them out the door and hang a sign on your door saying "Talent Only" making them feel like a defective member of the species. Lack of talent shouldn't discourage a human being from working hard to become an excellent musician but saying it's necessary for success can prevent people from working hard and its psychologically destructive. Every time a student hits a road block they'll think about how untalented they are.

Who cares if talent exists? All you can do is all you can do but all you can do is good enough. You don't tell someone they are NOT talented because that can be discouraging and you don't tell someone they ARE talented because that might make them refrain from working hard. The thought of talent shouldn't take away your dreams. It makes me sick when I hear people tell other people what they can and can not do. My teacher was told he didn't have the hands of a pianist and years later he becomes a Bosendorfer artist traveling all around the world.

Read Malcolm Gladwell's book on Outliers it'll shed some light on TALENTED PEOPLE

I'm really done with this thread because I've learned one thing: Don't ask for advice here at piano world (and especially encouragement) because if you even have to ask for advice you probably don't have the talent: "And don't worry we are telling you what you need to hear and truth hurts but us noble righteous holders of the truth are here to help. You want to do what? Did you start when you were 4 years old? Oh you didn't, well I'm sorry you have no chance. You can be a mediocre pianist however. Maybe you can work to play at a sleazy strip club if you really push it."
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/16/13 05:57 AM

Originally Posted By: King Cole

Read Malcolm Gladwell's book on Outliers it'll shed some light on TALENTED PEOPLE



We already ripped Gladwell to shreds here some time ago - check the archives. And it's not just us snooty types here at PW - even the researchers whose work Gladwell used for his ideas have said he misrepresented their work.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/16/13 09:06 AM

Originally Posted By: King Cole
Well I have more talent than JoelW and Polyphonist put together.


Just because Polyphonist and I disagree with your view doesn't warrant such a comment. I'd bet dollars to donuts I could outplay you with one hand. smile

Quote:
Who cares if talent exists? All you can do is all you can do but all you can do is good enough. You don't tell someone they are NOT talented because that can be discouraging and you don't tell someone they ARE talented because that might make them refrain from working hard.



I have met some people in my life, even in my own extended family, who lack absolutely any talent, yet they have a strong desire. It's very difficult to watch them attempt to follow even a 4/4 beat, getting transitions correct, following simple queues, etc. People like this don't have a chance at ever becoming competent musicians at any level. Simply lying to them isn't going to help them at all. If someone has no talent, it's best to tell them in the nicest way possible. I'd also like to say that telling a talented person that they're talented won't affect their work ethic IF they are truly passionate, because they will be self-driven. People who are truly passionate don't need an outside source to make them work, IMO.

Quote:
My teacher was told he didn't have the hands of a pianist and years later he becomes a Bosendorfer artist traveling all around the world.


This is rather appalling. People do say stupid things like this. One of my friends many years back had a piano teacher who told him his hands were too chubby to ever be a pianist. Try telling that to Art Tatum! It has nothing to do with talent and should never be said. I'm glad your teacher is successful.

Quote:
I'm really done with this thread because I've learned one thing: Don't ask for advice here at piano world (and especially encouragement) because if you even have to ask for advice you probably don't have the talent.


I'm sorry you feel this way, really. But believe me, no one is trying to discourage you here. We were just simply discussing whether talent exists. We weren't trying to tell you that you had none! I know PianoWorld can feel a bit hostile at times, but don't let this scare you off.

Posted by: Old Man

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/16/13 10:08 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
I would argue most famous pianists fall into this category. How old was Yuja Wang the first time she touched the keys? I think we can say she is just now coming into the pinnacle of her art, and broaching the horizon of broader fame. Of course, her musicality will evolve and change as a result of her experiences and maturity. But she's certainly well on her way. According to the bio I have on her, she started at six. She's now 26. That means, she's worked her tail off, and persevered for 20 long years to get where she is today.

I think what we see is a very young, 26 year old "prodigy" pianist, who is just so "talented", the industry couldn't deny her. But what I tend to see is someone who started on the right track at six, worked her tail off for twenty long years, made the right industry connections, had a little luck, and broke onto the music scene after a long road of sheer perseverance and determination.

Well, of course she's worked her tail off for 26 years. But that's like saying Horowitz worked his tail off for 86 years, and Rubinstein for 95 years. The "working one's tail off" business is a given. But it will never turn someone with only average talent into a great pianist.

I shouldn't have used the word "pinnacle", because no one reaches the pinnacle of their art in a few years. But many pianists have made their public debut at a very early age, an age so young that no combination of parenting, pedagogy, perseverance, or determination can explain it. Here are a few examples of some famous debuts:

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

Sorry, but "sheer perseverance and determination" will never have you playing a concerto before you reach puberty. I don't care whether we call it "talent" or not. Call it anything you wish, but whatever it is, it's innate, it's special, and it cannot be learned. These children are quickly recognized, because you simply have to give them a piano, and a little guidance, and they take off like rockets. Do they work hard? Of course. But their natural in-born ability allows them to progress at a rate that is exponentially faster than their peers. They don't have to be whipped into practicing because piano playing becomes as easy and natural to them as learning to read, or learning to ride a bicycle, so they can't get enough of it. It's in their wiring, plain and simple. Can I prove it? No. I would just say it's empirically evident. grin
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/16/13 12:32 PM

Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Derulux

I'm glad you brought up love. Hasn't that been proven to be a base chemical reaction in the brain? I think there was one (hopefully facetious) study that linked "love" to "attachment disorder". I'll have to find it.. not for the sake of a serious discussion, but for humor.

On a more serious note, I wish I could say what that evidence would look like. As yet, I've seen nothing that could qualify, so I can't even say "we're on the right track here." Maybe the genetics discussion is heading in the right direction? I'm not sure..?



There are all kinds of theories and research about love and brain chemistry, some more conclusive than others, and none quite covering all types of love. For example, I don't think anyone so far has tried to figure out the brain chemistry involved when I say I love the C# major P&F from WTC I.

But anyway, AFAIK, none of the researchers have claimed that their work is evidence that love, heretofore only a myth, actually exists.

I am not sure I could ever love Bach enough to claim that of a P&F. laugh (Oddly, I am drawn more to his works for instruments other than the piano.) But this would be a heck of a study, to find out why you love Bach so much. Yes? I agree with everything you said except that. grin

Originally Posted By: King Cole
Maybe you can work to play at a sleazy strip club if you really push it.

I would never recommend doing this. All your tips will be $1, and God only knows what condition they will be in.. grin

Originally Posted By: JoelW
I have met some people in my life, even in my own extended family, who lack absolutely any talent, yet they have a strong desire. It's very difficult to watch them attempt to follow even a 4/4 beat, getting transitions correct, following simple queues, etc. People like this don't have a chance at ever becoming competent musicians at any level. Simply lying to them isn't going to help them at all. If someone has no talent, it's best to tell them in the nicest way possible.

I disagree with this (naturally--haha). I think their learning curve is certainly steeper, because they either weren't exposed to, or didn't learn, the mechanics of music prior to their expression of desire. But that doesn't mean they can't do it. We can teach monkeys to clap to beats; we can teach humans. Those who have already learned it are certainly ahead of the curve, but I don't think that indicates "talent" or "ability". I think it simply indicates the latter group hasn't even started down the path yet.

Quote:
It has nothing to do with talent...

I'm taking this out of context on purpose. Thank you. grin

Originally Posted By: Old Man
They don't have to be whipped into practicing...

I think you should have started and ended your argument here. It encompasses quite a few things I have been saying since the start. A self-motivated learner, who understands how to learn, who has significant exposure to the music they are learning, and who enjoys what it is they are doing, will certainly outperform a student who is whipped into it. "Talent"? Nah. They simply didn't have to try to discern the beat of the music from the crack of the whip. wink

Quote:
The "working one's tail off" business is a given. But it will never turn someone with only average talent into a great pianist.

I know, I took your quotes out of order. Sue me. grin You're absolutely right with this statement, of course. There are other mitigating factors. Discipline is one of them. I wonder if those children you mentioned (who are all fabulous adult pianists today) played video games, sports, or were otherwise "distracted". I wonder if they had the discipline to learn the piece exactly the way they needed to, and not to try to play it too fast too quickly, or to settle for a single mistake in their playing. I wonder if they were surrounded by classical music, immersed in it, drowned in it, so that they had to learn to breathe it if they wanted to survive. I wonder, of course, because I do not know. But I would say it's evident there were other factors involved besides the "unknowable" and "unmeasurable". wink
Posted by: slipperykeys

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/16/13 12:48 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: slipperykeys
Originally Posted By: rocket88

Leaving the the talent/piano thing aside, apply "talent" to singing.

The concept that talent does not exist, and that one can achieve much improvement (or greatness) simply by working correctly and hard falls apart with singing.

You are either born with the pipes, or you aren't.

I don't have the pipes. But for decades I have faithfully worked hard to improve my singing, with 3 different teachers, and all it has done is make me a better lousy singer. laugh

I now have breath control, know how to shape the vowels, to pace the lyrics, etc, and, because of my other musical training, I know rhythms, repertoire, etc, but because I was not born with the pipes, I will never ever achieve the level of a gifted talented singer.


There is a distinction between ability and talent.

For example, the most talented pianist in the world cannot play a piano if he doesn't have one.


Good example.. if you were comparing it to a person lacking a larynx.

Sorry, but this is not an argument in favor of "talent". It has nothing to do with the premise of what "talent" is (according to those who have posted in favor of its existence), and we had agreed (at the onset) to leave physicality out of the discussion of "talent". It's like saying someone with a Ferrari F1 premiere race car is a better driver than someone with a street-sold 1984 Hyundai because they can complete the road course faster.

Originally Posted By: slipperykeys
Originally Posted By: King Cole
Some of your arguments that talent is the deciding factor in all of this are absolutely fascinating. Talent has yet to been quantified, we don't even know the correlatives to talent. Does it mean that you'll reach a point and never make significant improvement? Does it mean that you'll learn things quicker?? Puleeeze!

"For talent itself, in its most general sense-that exhibition of a strong bias toward some particular pursuit, may be defined, from its results, as simply: ability to learn with ease.

Tobias Matthay, "First Principles of PIANOFORTE PLAYING"

http://archive.org/details/firstprincipleso00mattiala

Click, PDF under, "View the book" and save to download a copy, the talent bit is on page 37.

Of course, being an English snobe (that's like a snob, but posher) I have a hard copy!

So, what you're saying is that, because someone developed the knowledge/ability of how to learn, they are more "talented" than someone who has not developed the knowledge/ability of how to learn? Still sounds to me like a lack of understanding in describing why someone "without talent" can't learn as well as someone "with talent". Which still indicates to me that no one has provided an accurate description of exactly what "talent" is. And, of course, there has been no evidence provided of its existence (that hasn't been easily refuted).


Oh,dear.... Please read CAREFULLY, I am saying nothing more than I am a snobe with my own copy, sorry and all that, it is there, in the text, if you see and understand, I did try to make that easy to spot.

"because someone developed the knowledge/ability of how to learn, they are more "talented" than someone who has not developed the knowledge/ability of how to learn?"

No! HE really isn't saying that at all, you simply haven't understood, I'll try to give you a clue, where does "developed" come into it?.
I refute your last sentence as I actually understand what Matthay is saying.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/16/13 01:31 PM

Originally Posted By: slipperykeys
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: slipperykeys
Originally Posted By: rocket88

Leaving the the talent/piano thing aside, apply "talent" to singing.

The concept that talent does not exist, and that one can achieve much improvement (or greatness) simply by working correctly and hard falls apart with singing.

You are either born with the pipes, or you aren't.

I don't have the pipes. But for decades I have faithfully worked hard to improve my singing, with 3 different teachers, and all it has done is make me a better lousy singer. laugh

I now have breath control, know how to shape the vowels, to pace the lyrics, etc, and, because of my other musical training, I know rhythms, repertoire, etc, but because I was not born with the pipes, I will never ever achieve the level of a gifted talented singer.


There is a distinction between ability and talent.

For example, the most talented pianist in the world cannot play a piano if he doesn't have one.


Good example.. if you were comparing it to a person lacking a larynx.

Sorry, but this is not an argument in favor of "talent". It has nothing to do with the premise of what "talent" is (according to those who have posted in favor of its existence), and we had agreed (at the onset) to leave physicality out of the discussion of "talent". It's like saying someone with a Ferrari F1 premiere race car is a better driver than someone with a street-sold 1984 Hyundai because they can complete the road course faster.

Originally Posted By: slipperykeys
Originally Posted By: King Cole
Some of your arguments that talent is the deciding factor in all of this are absolutely fascinating. Talent has yet to been quantified, we don't even know the correlatives to talent. Does it mean that you'll reach a point and never make significant improvement? Does it mean that you'll learn things quicker?? Puleeeze!

"For talent itself, in its most general sense-that exhibition of a strong bias toward some particular pursuit, may be defined, from its results, as simply: ability to learn with ease.

Tobias Matthay, "First Principles of PIANOFORTE PLAYING"

http://archive.org/details/firstprincipleso00mattiala

Click, PDF under, "View the book" and save to download a copy, the talent bit is on page 37.

Of course, being an English snobe (that's like a snob, but posher) I have a hard copy!

So, what you're saying is that, because someone developed the knowledge/ability of how to learn, they are more "talented" than someone who has not developed the knowledge/ability of how to learn? Still sounds to me like a lack of understanding in describing why someone "without talent" can't learn as well as someone "with talent". Which still indicates to me that no one has provided an accurate description of exactly what "talent" is. And, of course, there has been no evidence provided of its existence (that hasn't been easily refuted).


Oh,dear.... Please read CAREFULLY, I am saying nothing more than I am a snobe with my own copy, sorry and all that, it is there, in the text, if you see and understand, I did try to make that easy to spot.

"because someone developed the knowledge/ability of how to learn, they are more "talented" than someone who has not developed the knowledge/ability of how to learn?"

No! HE really isn't saying that at all, you simply haven't understood, I'll try to give you a clue, where does "developed" come into it?.
I refute your last sentence as I actually understand what Matthay is saying.




I do very much like the word "snobe". I may adopt it for, as you say, its "poshness". laugh

I believe I know where you're going with your "developed clue", and I still disagree, but I shall take my argument up with Matthay, then, since it is he who said it and not you. smile
Posted by: mermilylumpkin

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/16/13 03:51 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW

I have met some people in my life, even in my own extended family, who lack absolutely any talent, yet they have a strong desire. It's very difficult to watch them attempt to follow even a 4/4 beat, getting transitions correct, following simple queues, etc. People like this don't have a chance at ever becoming competent musicians at any level. Simply lying to them isn't going to help them at all. If someone has no talent, it's best to tell them in the nicest way possible


Why is that so difficult to watch? It seems a tiny bit funny to try to imagine "the nicest way possible" is to tell someone they have no talent and should stop trying? If you're going to devote serious time to this thread, can you at least type up a transcript of what that conversation might look like because I sort of have to know.

It just comes across as slightly socially awkward to put someone in their place by telling them to stop working so hard because they will never be competent at what they are trying to achieve. Regardless of whether you're the final authority on whether they can or not (and who knows, maybe JoelW of The Internet really is the final authority.)
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/16/13 03:57 PM

Originally Posted By: Old Man

Sorry, but "sheer perseverance and determination" will never have you playing a concerto before you reach puberty.


Good evening. Once again, I don't believe that anyone is saying that "sheer perserverance and determination" will make a prodigy or a virtuoso of any kid.

Originally Posted By: Old Man

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


It seems that every one of these pianists comes from a musical family. (Excepted Helen Huang, maybe, for nothing is written in this regard in the biographies on the web.) Several of them were taught by their parents. Glenn Gould, according to wikipedia, "Before his birth, his mother planned for him to become a successful musician, and thus exposed him to music during her pregnancy".
Posted by: Bosendorff

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/16/13 05:29 PM

Originally Posted By: King Cole
I must apologize, as I have not made myself clear. I am not talking about being able to whistle or clap. I am talking about being able to make music. There IS a difference. Many people can play the piano. Not that many make music when doing it. The difference is clearly heard by the listener.


1) Find a good teacher (you already have I think, so that's good !).
2) Practice with metronome. Because it's important to be precise rhythmically. And also without metronome. Because it's as important to do without and also to perfect rubato playing.
3) Read manuscripts slowly, and after a while read "beyond what is written". Takes a while. And it takes even longer to be able to sight read, so start at your level, even if it's beginner. Sight reading is often the most difficult aspect because it doesn't bring gratification quickly. But don't worry, all those things are a lifetime process.
4) Practice, practice and practice the aspects of music that can be studied and improved by most people : technique, use of forearm/arm weight, precision, repetitive exercises, etc.
5) Practice also the aspects that are much more difficult to teach as they are linked at least partly to innate abilities like : sense of rhythm, expressivity (both rhythmic and dynamic), improvisation, etc. If those abilities are not innate, they can always be "learned" in other ways - but will have limited results for a long time compared to someone who has them in an innate fashion.
6) Never think you don't need to improve and/or that you are a virtuoso. This might be the most important one.
7) Play, play and play. And don't forget to have fun while you do.

Of course, there are also many other things... Just thought to write a few important ones.
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/16/13 06:49 PM

Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: Old Man

Sorry, but "sheer perseverance and determination" will never have you playing a concerto before you reach puberty.


Good evening. Once again, I don't believe that anyone is saying that "sheer perserverance and determination" will make a prodigy or a virtuoso of any kid.

Originally Posted By: Old Man

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


It seems that every one of these pianists comes from a musical family. (Excepted Helen Huang, maybe, for nothing is written in this regard in the biographies on the web.) Several of them were taught by their parents. Glenn Gould, according to wikipedia, "Before his birth, his mother planned for him to become a successful musician, and thus exposed him to music during her pregnancy".



Well, it only makes sense that musical talent is more likely to appear in a musical family, and it can be for reasons other than nurture. One reason may be that it largely determined by DNA. But the other, more obvious one is that a musical family is where the talent may be recognized, and most importantly, have the means of expression that is required. It's hard to discover if a child has a talent for playing the piano if there's no piano around.

The quote about Gould ties in with something I was thinking about - do things that happen in the womb count as innate or nurture? In a way, it might seem obvious to be nurture, but I think that in terms of talking about talent in the usual sense, I would consider it innate, because whatever influence of that kind is there, it is part of the person at birth.
Posted by: currawong

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/16/13 07:36 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
I have met some people in my life, even in my own extended family, who lack absolutely any talent, yet they have a strong desire. It's very difficult to watch them attempt to follow even a 4/4 beat, getting transitions correct, following simple queues, etc. People like this don't have a chance at ever becoming competent musicians at any level.
Well I hope you're not thinking of becoming a teacher (at any level).
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/16/13 07:49 PM

Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: JoelW
I have met some people in my life, even in my own extended family, who lack absolutely any talent, yet they have a strong desire. It's very difficult to watch them attempt to follow even a 4/4 beat, getting transitions correct, following simple queues, etc. People like this don't have a chance at ever becoming competent musicians at any level.
Well I hope you're not thinking of becoming a teacher (at any level).


Since when do teachers have to lie? If a student has very little to no talent and isn't progressing whatsoever, why waste their time and money if I know full-well what's going on?

I hold this view mainly for parents who are pushing their kids to play piano.

I do however believe that if someone is truly passionate and has a desire to work hard, even if they have very little potential, it is right to let them pursue their interest. If I were a teacher and someone came to me desperate to learn, I wouldn't ever deny them that chance.
Posted by: currawong

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/16/13 07:57 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: JoelW
I have met some people in my life, even in my own extended family, who lack absolutely any talent, yet they have a strong desire. It's very difficult to watch them attempt to follow even a 4/4 beat, getting transitions correct, following simple queues, etc. People like this don't have a chance at ever becoming competent musicians at any level.
Well I hope you're not thinking of becoming a teacher (at any level).
Since when do teachers have to lie? If a student has very little to no talent and isn't progressing whatsoever, why waste their time and money if I know full-well what's going on?
Teachers don't have to lie - what they do have to do is find the potential in every student, and believe me, after 45 years of music teaching, I don't think I've come across a single student who had no potential, and I certainly wouldn't have the arrogance to decide that on superficial impressions. (I'm not talking about students who have a burning desire to become the next Richter - but then I dare say the person you mentioned who couldn't keep a beat didn't have this ambition either. smile )
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/16/13 08:07 PM

Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: JoelW
I have met some people in my life, even in my own extended family, who lack absolutely any talent, yet they have a strong desire. It's very difficult to watch them attempt to follow even a 4/4 beat, getting transitions correct, following simple queues, etc. People like this don't have a chance at ever becoming competent musicians at any level.
Well I hope you're not thinking of becoming a teacher (at any level).
Since when do teachers have to lie? If a student has very little to no talent and isn't progressing whatsoever, why waste their time and money if I know full-well what's going on?
Teachers don't have to lie - what they do have to do is find the potential in every student, and believe me, after 45 years of music teaching, I don't think I've come across a single student who had no potential, and I certainly wouldn't have the arrogance to decide that on superficial impressions. (I'm not talking about students who have a burning desire to become the next Richter - but then I dare say the person you mentioned who couldn't keep a beat didn't have this ambition either. smile )


I was editing as you wrote this. Care to reflect on my addition?
Posted by: currawong

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/16/13 10:54 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
I hold this view mainly for parents who are pushing their kids to play piano.
A slight shift from "who lack absolutely any talent, yet they have a strong desire", but I find more to agree with in your edited post.
I've seen many people whose potential did not show itself for some time, and it's worth cultivating the patience that can listen to stumbling attempts and work out how to help a person develop skills - in fact, for a teacher I think it's essential.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/16/13 10:59 PM

Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: Old Man

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


It seems that every one of these pianists comes from a musical family.

True, but you would agree that coming from a musical family is no guarantee of professional success. For every Argerich, Arrau, Barenboim, Gould, and Gutierrez, how many hundreds from musical families have failed to make any mark whatsoever on the circuit?

The pianists listed above are exceptional examples, and maybe things would have been different had they not come from musical families. OTH, I don't know the particular details of their respective childhoods, but it cannot have been the same for all of them.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/16/13 11:22 PM

Originally Posted By: wr
The quote about Gould ties in with something I was thinking about - do things that happen in the womb count as innate or nurture? In a way, it might seem obvious to be nurture, but I think that in terms of talking about talent in the usual sense, I would consider it innate, because whatever influence of that kind is there, it is part of the person at birth.

I tend to think of any kind of exposure as a learning experience, whether it happens in the womb or not. I'm not sure, but if I remember correctly, there isn't a huge learning gap between kids who listen to classical music (particularly Mozart) in the womb and those who don't. I honestly forget, though. Read a paper on it over a decade ago when a psych prof introduced me to the idea of how the brain learns.

Originally Posted By: argerichfan
For every Argerich, Arrau, Barenboim, Gould, and Gutierrez, how many hundreds from musical families have failed to make any mark whatsoever on the circuit?

Quite probably thousands..

In the martial arts, there are maybe 10-15 famous names. There are 30 million active practitioners in the US alone.

In the publishing world (for which there are no accurate figures in existence), Jack Canfield once told me 1 in 1,000 works gets published. 1 in 20 of those is by an author who makes their living from writing. And 1 in 100 of those is Stephen King. So, if 325k works are published a year (in the US), that's 325 million that don't get published.

Side note: our UK friends will be happy to note that, per capita, they publish more books than any other nation.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/16/13 11:33 PM

Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: JoelW
I hold this view mainly for parents who are pushing their kids to play piano.
A slight shift from "who lack absolutely any talent, yet they have a strong desire", but I find more to agree with in your edited post.
I've seen many people whose potential did not show itself for some time, and it's worth cultivating the patience that can listen to stumbling attempts and work out how to help a person develop skills - in fact, for a teacher I think it's essential.


You're right, I misrepresented myself. My mistake.
Posted by: chopin_r_us

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/17/13 06:25 AM

I love this thread - the thread that keeps on giving! (or is that going?) The debate really centers around whether that monkey can come up with Shakespeare's plays and sonnets typing into infinity or once you've missed the boat that's that. I'll go for the former as I think wisdom is acquired or at least you gotta wait around a while whereas there are get-rounds when it comes to facility in learning (the most obvious one being time).
Posted by: Hakki

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/17/13 10:38 AM

Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
I love this thread - the thread that keeps on giving! (or is that going?) The debate really centers around whether that monkey can come up with Shakespeare's plays and sonnets typing into infinity or once you've missed the boat that's that. I'll go for the former as I think wisdom is acquired or at least you gotta wait around a while whereas there are get-rounds when it comes to facility in learning (the most obvious one being time).


For practical purposes, that's that.
Posted by: Old Man

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/17/13 12:55 PM

One of the prodigies in my list was Helen Huang. According to her bio, she began taking lessons at age 5 and made her debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra at age 8, after winning its student concerto competition. Assuming she didn't play the "Twinkle Twinkle Concerto in C Major", what could possibly explain such lightning-fast progress? From nothing to a concerto in 3 years?!! It's in the genes, folks.

And from a personal perspective, I was saturated with classical music from the womb onward. My dad was a church organist his entire life, my mom sold classical records in the 40s, and was quite an opera expert, so our home was suffused with music. My childhood idol was Vladimir Horowitz, not Mickey Mantle, and my passion for piano has never waned in 63 years.

But after attempting a couple of quarters at the university level, I realized quickly at age 20 that I simply didn't have the chops, and never would. Sure, a Chopin waltz or two, a Bach invention or two, but playing never came easy to me, no matter how many hours I practiced. I was forced to accept my limitations and move on.

This does not mean, however, that those of us with limited talent should simply throw up our hands and give up! With a good teacher and the discipline to put in the hours, anyone can and will improve. I think Kreisler summed it up quite nicely a while back:
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I don't believe anyone can, through hard work, be as good as Kissin.

I don't believe anyone can, through hard work, be as good as Tiger Woods.

I do believe that anyone can, through hard work, learn to play golf well enough to enjoy it.

I do believe that anyone can, through hard work, learn to play the piano well enough to enjoy it.

The last word.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/17/13 01:32 PM

Originally Posted By: Old Man
But after attempting a couple of quarters at the university level, I realized quickly at age 20 that I simply didn't have the chops, and never would. Sure, a Chopin waltz or two, a Bach invention or two, but playing never came easy to me, no matter how many hours I practiced. I was forced to accept my limitations and move on.

I genuinely feel bad for you, my friend. You gave up way too soon, and way too easily. A couple quarters at the university vs 20 years of hard work and dedication with an outstanding teacher (the Yuja Wang example we used earlier). What did you expect? We always perceive that we progress slowest at the beginning, but if we want the end result, we have to push through that and keep going.. smile

If we ever get a chance to sit down at the keys, I should like to see and hear you play.
Posted by: King Cole

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/17/13 01:53 PM

Originally Posted By: Old Man

The last word.


I'll have the last word thank you very much. Ha!

Originally Posted By: Old Man

But after attempting a couple of quarters at the university level, I realized quickly at age 20 that I simply didn't have the chops, and never would.


But you do explain the crux of the talent argument quite nicely, don't you?

Talent is often used to quell pain of our past failures. How utterly un-brave are those who let the notion of talent define them and their life. I will never offer any forbearance to such rationalizations for my shortcomings. At the heart of it all most have failed to tread upon the deep hidden corridors of our souls to find the genius that lies within us all. It is soothing to tell ourselves its not our fault, it is not because of us that we lack the skill. No, it must be our maker, it must be the universe that has cursed us to this life of mediocrity so no, I am not the one to blame.

So difficult is it for us to be honest with ourselves. So unwilling are we to entertain an extremely plausible truth that it is indeed us who are to blame. We don't want to believe that there is a 7 year old child out there right now watching someone else play the piano and is enamored by their playing. That this child goes home to its family's dusty out-of-tune piano and sits and plays for days trying to recollect what those notes were. And that child's parents too busy with the whirlwinds of life hardly notice this subtle yet monumental change, never paying attention. Days turn to months and in fact months turns to years and one day that child's mother who never thought much of the child's strange obsession with banging on the piano hears something. Something beautiful and she's stunned. For her it is the first time in a while that she stopped to listen but now these notes sound like heavenly melodies raining from heaven. My child has God-given talent she exclaims. But she's wrong.

She missed those days, weeks, months when that child struggled so earnestly with no success to recreate those melodies from long ago. No it is not God-given talent that propelled this child, it was the innocent naiveté to believe that those notes would eventually come but importantly that change that happened years ago when no one was looking when that child first heard those notes the change deep in this child wasn't a rewiring of the brain, it wasn't a sudden activation of a gene pathway. It was a fascination for what was heard, it was a deep affection for what was felt, it was beauty.... it wasn't talent.
Indeed, it was love.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/17/13 01:55 PM

Woohoo we're done.
Posted by: Old Man

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/17/13 05:02 PM

Originally Posted By: King Cole
Originally Posted By: Old Man

The last word.

I'll have the last word thank you very much. Ha!

Ha! As well you should! smile All I was trying to say is that Kreisler's quote was "the last word" on this entire subject.
Originally Posted By: King Cole

But you do explain the crux of the talent argument quite nicely, don't you?

Talent is often used to quell pain of our past failures. How utterly un-brave are those who let the notion of talent define them and their life. I will never offer any forbearance to such rationalizations for my shortcomings. At the heart of it all most have failed to tread upon the deep hidden corridors of our souls to find the genius that lies within us all. It is soothing to tell ourselves its not our fault, it is not because of us that we lack the skill. No, it must be our maker, it must be the universe that has cursed us to this life of mediocrity so no, I am not the one to blame.

Eloquently stated, but completely wrong. I can do without the psychoanalysis (on PW we leave that to MarkC laugh ), and now wish I hadn't personalized it. It's no great tragedy that I don't have the innate ability to play well, and I'm certainly not making excuses. The list of things I can't do (understand quantum mechanics, write a great novel, play tennis like Federer, play golf like Tiger, perform neurosurgery, etc.) is infinite, as it is for most of us. We can all improve ourselves in these areas, but there is a limit to how far we can progress, and all the hard work in the world won't change that. You may believe this is a self-imposed, artificial limit (i.e. an excuse or rationalization), but it's simple reality.

All the wonderful things you described in your post will never explain how a child can be playing with orchestras in as little as 3, 5, 7 years after beginning lessons. I'd love to poll the teachers on this forum, and find out how many times in their teaching careers they've assigned serious study of a concerto in so little time. I'm sure it happens, but I suspect it's a rarity. To believe that just the right combination of hard work, dedication, exposure to music, nurturing, etc. can bring about this miracle is, IMHO, sheer fantasy.

So, KC, get practicing and prove me wrong! smile
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/17/13 05:34 PM

Originally Posted By: Old Man
The list of things I can't do (understand quantum mechanics, write a great novel, play tennis like Federer, play golf like Tiger, perform neurosurgery, etc.) is infinite, as it is for most of us. We can all improve ourselves in these areas, but there is a limit to how far we can progress, and all the hard work in the world won't change that. You may believe this is a self-imposed, artificial limit (i.e. an excuse or rationalization), but it's simple reality.

I think I would consider the greatest limiting factor "time". It takes time to understand QM, write a novel (let alone a great one), learn to play tennis, golf, etc etc. If we dedicate that time, we will see results. If not....

I understand quantum mechanics. As well as Heisenberg, Schrodinger, or Bohr? No, but then, I didn't spend nearly the time they did trying. I've written a novel. Is it Stephen King? No, but then, I didn't take drugs so I could work for 20 hours a day on my writing, either. I can play golf. As well as Tiger? No, but then, I didn't play in college, nor did I hit 3000 balls a day, or spend 5-6 hours on the putting green like he did. I don't play tennis, and no one has yet allowed me to cut open their brain. Any takers? wink

I think it's perfectly fine to not be good at something. But I think it's important to understand why we're not, and why someone else is better. 99.99999% of the time, it's because they worked harder, smarter, and longer.

Quote:
So, KC, get practicing and prove me wrong!

Yes, KC, put a nail in "talent's" coffin and please do this! haha laugh
Posted by: Old Man

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/17/13 08:14 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: Old Man
The list of things I can't do (understand quantum mechanics, write a great novel, play tennis like Federer, play golf like Tiger, perform neurosurgery, etc.) is infinite, as it is for most of us. We can all improve ourselves in these areas, but there is a limit to how far we can progress, and all the hard work in the world won't change that. You may believe this is a self-imposed, artificial limit (i.e. an excuse or rationalization), but it's simple reality.

I think I would consider the greatest limiting factor "time". It takes time to understand QM, write a novel (let alone a great one), learn to play tennis, golf, etc etc. If we dedicate that time, we will see results.

Yes, we will see results - but only up to a point.

Originally Posted By: Derelux
I understand quantum mechanics. As well as Heisenberg, Schrodinger, or Bohr?

Boy, I sure know how to pick 'em. crazy I just pulled that one out of my ... never mind.

Originally Posted By: Derelux
I think it's perfectly fine to not be good at something. But I think it's important to understand why we're not, and why someone else is better. 99.99999% of the time, it's because they worked harder, smarter, and longer.

I would say that 99.99999% of the time it's never because of what you said.

Originally Posted By: Derelux
Originally Posted By: Old Man
So, KC, get practicing and prove me wrong!
Yes, KC, put a nail in "talent's" coffin and please do this! haha laugh

OK, fine. Let's adopt Okiikahuna's phrase: "innate aptitude". As I said, names don't matter. grin

Originally Posted By: Derelux
If we ever get a chance to sit down at the keys, I should like to see and hear you play.

ha I guess that's the nature of internet forums. People think they can withstand anything! laugh No, I will have my hands in my pocket, and you will astound me with your playing. smile
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/17/13 11:21 PM

Originally Posted By: Old Man
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: Old Man
The list of things I can't do (understand quantum mechanics, write a great novel, play tennis like Federer, play golf like Tiger, perform neurosurgery, etc.) is infinite, as it is for most of us. We can all improve ourselves in these areas, but there is a limit to how far we can progress, and all the hard work in the world won't change that. You may believe this is a self-imposed, artificial limit (i.e. an excuse or rationalization), but it's simple reality.

I think I would consider the greatest limiting factor "time". It takes time to understand QM, write a novel (let alone a great one), learn to play tennis, golf, etc etc. If we dedicate that time, we will see results.

Yes, we will see results - but only up to a point.

Originally Posted By: Derelux
I understand quantum mechanics. As well as Heisenberg, Schrodinger, or Bohr?

Boy, I sure know how to pick 'em. crazy I just pulled that one out of my ... never mind.

HAHA yeah, you picked a good one. If you had chosen 16th century French literature, I would have been in trouble.. laugh


Originally Posted By: Old Man
Originally Posted By: Derelux
If we ever get a chance to sit down at the keys, I should like to see and hear you play.

ha I guess that's the nature of internet forums. People think they can withstand anything! laugh No, I will have my hands in my pocket, and you will astound me with your playing. smile

My playing's not that great; I used to be better (lack of piano and available practice time). But if that's what it took, I'd certainly be willing to make you yawn. smile
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/18/13 06:49 AM

Originally Posted By: slipperykeys

"For talent itself, in its most general sense-that exhibition of a strong bias toward some particular pursuit, may be defined, from its results, as simply: ability to learn with ease.

Tobias Matthay, "First Principles of PIANOFORTE PLAYING"



I wanted to respond to this earlier, but got distracted.

Defining talent by results is a bit too easy, I think. To me, that result - ability to learn with ease - is just a result, but not the thing itself.

I think talent is more about a special kind of comprehension of a given subject matter. To get that comprehension manifested in the real world, it needs to be coupled with some particular physical attributes and the kind of focus/discipline/desire that propels a person to actually do what it takes to achieve what the mind is presenting as possible. I think there are lots of talented people who, for various reasons, never turn that talent into their life's work, much less a major international career.
Posted by: Steve Chandler

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/18/13 10:01 AM

Originally Posted By: Old Man
but there is a limit to how far we can progress, and all the hard work in the world won't change that. You may believe this is a self-imposed, artificial limit (i.e. an excuse or rationalization), but it's simple reality.

All the wonderful things you described in your post will never explain how a child can be playing with orchestras in as little as 3, 5, 7 years after beginning lessons. I'd love to poll the teachers on this forum, and find out how many times in their teaching careers they've assigned serious study of a concerto in so little time. I'm sure it happens, but I suspect it's a rarity. To believe that just the right combination of hard work, dedication, exposure to music, nurturing, etc. can bring about this miracle is, IMHO, sheer fantasy.

There are many studies by neuro-scientists that indicate the mind develops some specific talents at particular times. For example it's well known that younger people learn languages more easily, but even children who learn a new language after somewhere between the age of 6-8 will have an accent. Among pianists it's believed that anyone starting to play the piano after the age of 8-10 will never develop the technique of virtuoso (and it's generally believed the younger the better). These are not self imposed limitations these are proven scientific facts.

For example this study indicates that hearing impaired children develop better language skills the younger there is intervention in their hearing impairment.

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/106/3/e43.full

However, that doesn't mean that any child starting at the age of 5 can develop into a virtuoso. That takes commitment determination and yes probably innate talent.
Posted by: mermilylumpkin

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/18/13 11:25 AM

Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler

There are many studies by neuro-scientists that indicate the mind develops some specific talents at particular times. For example it's well known that younger people learn languages more easily, but even children who learn a new language after somewhere between the age of 6-8 will have an accent. Among pianists it's believed that anyone starting to play the piano after the age of 8-10 will never develop the technique of virtuoso (and it's generally believed the younger the better). These are not self imposed limitations these are proven scientific facts.


It would be interesting if we could provide a concrete example of a technical skill that definitely could not be acquired after age 10. Like if could we say definitively, e.g. it is not possible to learn how to play an Ab major scale in perfect fourths at 120 bpm (semiquaver) with relaxed hands and good technical form after the age of ten. Maybe there are examples like that out there, but to me I struggle to think of any.

I approach this as someone who had a piano at home growing up from around age 10 but only started formal training during adulthood. For me, when I am approaching a new technical challenge (e.g. simultaneous trills in both hands) I generally start at the point of not being able to do it, break it down step by step, increase the tempo and end up being able to do it with solid technique. I am never 100% sure what is meant when people say it's not possible to acquire technique during adulthood because it seems to contradict my experience. And when we speak of technique aren't we just thinking of the sum of all of those individual technical skills? Feel free to straighten me out here if you think I am off track.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/18/13 01:36 PM

Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: slipperykeys

"For talent itself, in its most general sense-that exhibition of a strong bias toward some particular pursuit, may be defined, from its results, as simply: ability to learn with ease.

Tobias Matthay, "First Principles of PIANOFORTE PLAYING"



I wanted to respond to this earlier, but got distracted.

Defining talent by results is a bit too easy, I think. To me, that result - ability to learn with ease - is just a result, but not the thing itself.

I think talent is more about a special kind of comprehension of a given subject matter. To get that comprehension manifested in the real world, it needs to be coupled with some particular physical attributes and the kind of focus/discipline/desire that propels a person to actually do what it takes to achieve what the mind is presenting as possible. I think there are lots of talented people who, for various reasons, never turn that talent into their life's work, much less a major international career.

While I disagree that this "special" comprehension is called "talent", at this point, we would largely be arguing semantics and language, because I agree with darn near every word you said here. smile

Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
There are many studies by neuro-scientists that indicate the mind develops some specific talents at particular times. For example it's well known that younger people learn languages more easily, but even children who learn a new language after somewhere between the age of 6-8 will have an accent. Among pianists it's believed that anyone starting to play the piano after the age of 8-10 will never develop the technique of virtuoso (and it's generally believed the younger the better). These are not self imposed limitations these are proven scientific facts.

I've read a couple of these, but I admit, most of the details have since left me. Regarding accents, particularly, I believe there was a study done that showed that some people's brains develop the ability to pick up accents much faster and easier than others. I believe it was because their brains used "movement" centers in conjunction with "speech" centers--impressionists do this very well. But I don't remember anything in that study that limited the ability by age..? (could be wrong)

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
I am never 100% sure what is meant when people say it's not possible to acquire technique during adulthood because it seems to contradict my experience. And when we speak of technique aren't we just thinking of the sum of all of those individual technical skills? Feel free to straighten me out here if you think I am off track.

No, I think you're on track. From my experience, and that's not to say it's everyone in the camp, those who believe that people can't learn the piano after age "x" tend to think of it more as a language, and use "language-based" arguments. But playing the piano isn't about language. It's about movement. And adults learn fine motor skill coordination far more easily than children.

Now, someone who has never heard music before may be at a disadvantage in interpreting the written notes into sounds, but I don't know anybody in that category, nor do I think it would be a permanent handicap. One could simply focus on movements to produce the required sounds.

Some people seem to intuit movement by sound; others intuit sound by movement. Doesn't matter much which side you're on, so long as the result is the same. wink
Posted by: mermilylumpkin

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/18/13 03:40 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux

No, I think you're on track. From my experience, and that's not to say it's everyone in the camp, those who believe that people can't learn the piano after age "x" tend to think of it more as a language, and use "language-based" arguments. But playing the piano isn't about language. It's about movement. And adults learn fine motor skill coordination far more easily than children.


I really agree with you that language learning is a different process than music learning. I don't want to get too nerdy here, but I think there's really strong research support for the idea that language learning and its components (learning the syntax and phonology of a language) happens in a very specialized part of the brain with a very particular process that isn't comparable to e.g. how the brain learns to knit or how it learns to play the piano.

I just feel like those in the musicianship-is-borne-of-talent camp sometimes assign certain mystical properties to pianism as if it takes a sort of voodoo to learn how to do it rather than an enormous amount of elbow grease, which is what I think is closer to the reality. I just think about how I learn a new piece, and for me that process is breaking up everything I want to do musically into the atomic parts: learning the fingering for a certain run, practicing it slowly, thinking about my musical intention and where it's leading and experimenting until I hit on what I'm looking for. There's boiled down to a quick recap, but essentially it's a sequential process. While it is very cognitively demanding, I don't think "Learning Music" or "Learning Music Greatly" even requires the certain CB31LEARNMUSIC gene, as much as it requires you to sit at the piano and do a lot of complex problem solving on a very consistent basis over many many hours and years.

Or else what is it that you think a virtuoso does that outside the realm of normal cognitive processing? Certainly I personally think virtuosos need to be deeply in touch with their humanity in order to communicate something universal and beautiful, but while that's incredibly rare, it is clearly in the humanistic realm and not some special gene.

I think it's more like, "Do you want it very very badly? Are you willing to devote 2 to 5 hours per day to it, every day, for years?" For most people the answer to those questions is no, in practice if not in intention. I think that's why there are so few virtuosos. Those child virtuosos equally did their grueling time at the keyboard and at a time when their young brains were capable of doing the neurological sequencing work (or whatever it is) to learn fingerings and gain fluency/automaticity at sight-reading at a much faster pace than an adult brain. We just think it looks like magic (or "talent") because we see the finish product only.

I'm afraid I may have ventured into TL;DR territory, which is too bad.
Posted by: Ataru074

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/18/13 06:39 PM

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
as much as it requires you to sit at the piano and do a lot of complex problem solving on a very consistent basis over many many hours and years.


When I look back to my experience... if you start when 4 and put even only 1 hour a day on average you will have more than 5000 hour of practice by the time you hit 18.... and we all know that "talented" musicians spend more than that at the piano....

take for example your average 20 year old something... I think most of them, between social life, mates, fun and recreation will hardly put more than 1 hour a day on average even if some day are able to make 3 or 4 hour stints... than you have vacations, than you have some finals... find a job.. gym and so on..... even if you work THAT hard... you'll still reach 34 by the time you have the same amount of hours at the piano of the "talented" kid.....

I don't want to come with the 10.000 hours of dedicated practice... but at the end... I believe that real talent kicks in to reach that last 1% that makes your music "live" or that extra metronome mark..... real talent makes you Richter instead of anybody else with a phd in piano performance.... time and sweat makes you a pro over an amateur.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/18/13 07:38 PM

Originally Posted By: Ataru074
I don't want to come with the 10.000 hours of dedicated practice... but at the end... I believe that real talent kicks in to reach that last 1% that makes your music "live" or that extra metronome mark..... real talent makes you Richter instead of anybody else with a phd in piano performance.... time and sweat makes you a pro over an amateur.
IMO talent is a continuum. Even "just" getting a Phd in piano performance takes a level of talent very high on the scale... at least the top 1/100th of one percent. For a Richter the talent level is obviously at the absolute extreme of the scale.
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/19/13 03:50 AM

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler

There are many studies by neuro-scientists that indicate the mind develops some specific talents at particular times. For example it's well known that younger people learn languages more easily, but even children who learn a new language after somewhere between the age of 6-8 will have an accent. Among pianists it's believed that anyone starting to play the piano after the age of 8-10 will never develop the technique of virtuoso (and it's generally believed the younger the better). These are not self imposed limitations these are proven scientific facts.


It would be interesting if we could provide a concrete example of a technical skill that definitely could not be acquired after age 10. Like if could we say definitively, e.g. it is not possible to learn how to play an Ab major scale in perfect fourths at 120 bpm (semiquaver) with relaxed hands and good technical form after the age of ten. Maybe there are examples like that out there, but to me I struggle to think of any.

I approach this as someone who had a piano at home growing up from around age 10 but only started formal training during adulthood. For me, when I am approaching a new technical challenge (e.g. simultaneous trills in both hands) I generally start at the point of not being able to do it, break it down step by step, increase the tempo and end up being able to do it with solid technique. I am never 100% sure what is meant when people say it's not possible to acquire technique during adulthood because it seems to contradict my experience. And when we speak of technique aren't we just thinking of the sum of all of those individual technical skills? Feel free to straighten me out here if you think I am off track.


Oh, you can definitely acquire various bits and pieces of technique when you are an adult, or keep improving on those you already have. I've been playing for over 50 years and still feel that I'm acquiring technique.

But what you probably can't do as an adult is acquire the kind of comprehensive technique of a top notch virtuoso. Put a different way, I don't think there has ever been anyone with a major international career as a concert pianist - you know, the kind who gets concerto dates with the world's major orchestras - who started learning how to play as an adult.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/19/13 04:07 AM

Originally Posted By: wr
But what you probably can't do as an adult is acquire the kind of comprehensive technique of a top notch virtuoso. Put a different way, I don't think there has ever been anyone with a major international career as a concert pianist - you know, the kind who gets concerto dates with the world's major orchestras - who started learning how to play as an adult.

It can be done. I've seen it in other areas, particularly martial arts. The likelihood of someone waiting until adulthood to do this is very small, so there are very few cases, but it happens.

However, I think the example of a major international career as a concert pianist presumes that ability alone gets you such a career. Not even close, unfortunately. It's more about network, opportunity, luck, time (timing for that matter), and marketability. Few adults are as marketable as a "six-year-old-prodigy-ohmygod-supertalented-Mozart-reborn!" What do you say about the adult? "Hey, everyone. Here's a guy that learned to play the piano at an advanced age."

Look at other entertainment venues--acting, for example. Most actors get their start very young. Very, very, very few actors get their start as adults. Give it a shot--see how many A-list actors you can name who started acting as adults. Why? Because it often takes a very long time to "break in". Even Morgan Freeman, the adult-champion of acting perseverance, got his first professional gig (that I know of) at age 27, and probably was acting unprofessionally before that. But he didn't get his "big break" until 25 years later, as Principal Joe Clark in "Lean On Me". Another, Hugo Weaving, got his first professional gig at age 21, but didn't get his "big break" for 18 more years ("The Matrix").

Being a super-highly-paid A-lister, a name that everyone would recognize, doesn't mean you have the greatest ability. It means you have the greatest marketability. Astronomically huge difference.
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/19/13 06:29 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: wr
But what you probably can't do as an adult is acquire the kind of comprehensive technique of a top notch virtuoso. Put a different way, I don't think there has ever been anyone with a major international career as a concert pianist - you know, the kind who gets concerto dates with the world's major orchestras - who started learning how to play as an adult.

It can be done. I've seen it in other areas, particularly martial arts. The likelihood of someone waiting until adulthood to do this is very small, so there are very few cases, but it happens.

However, I think the example of a major international career as a concert pianist presumes that ability alone gets you such a career. Not even close, unfortunately. It's more about network, opportunity, luck, time (timing for that matter), and marketability. Few adults are as marketable as a "six-year-old-prodigy-ohmygod-supertalented-Mozart-reborn!" What do you say about the adult? "Hey, everyone. Here's a guy that learned to play the piano at an advanced age."

Look at other entertainment venues--acting, for example. Most actors get their start very young. Very, very, very few actors get their start as adults. Give it a shot--see how many A-list actors you can name who started acting as adults. Why? Because it often takes a very long time to "break in". Even Morgan Freeman, the adult-champion of acting perseverance, got his first professional gig (that I know of) at age 27, and probably was acting unprofessionally before that. But he didn't get his "big break" until 25 years later, as Principal Joe Clark in "Lean On Me". Another, Hugo Weaving, got his first professional gig at age 21, but didn't get his "big break" for 18 more years ("The Matrix").

Being a super-highly-paid A-lister, a name that everyone would recognize, doesn't mean you have the greatest ability. It means you have the greatest marketability. Astronomically huge difference.


I'm not sure why you are bringing up other fields - they are not directly comparable to classical piano playing, IMO.

And while it is true that there's more to becoming a virtuoso with a major international career than just having the comprehensive technique, that technique is still the norm, and there are still no pianists of that kind who have that sort of technique who acquired it as an adult.

But the point I'm making isn't about the career, anyway - it just happens that the big international careers are the most obvious manifestation and convenient example. But, AFAIK, there aren't any known classical pianists of any sort, regardless of their career standing, who acquired that kind of comprehensive virtuoso technique as adults.

And, come to think of it, even if someone could find such an example, the utter freakish rarity of it would mean that it was pretty useless as an example in any general discussion of why it is that people say that you can't acquire a real complete virtuoso technique as an adult.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/19/13 07:00 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: wr
But what you probably can't do as an adult is acquire the kind of comprehensive technique of a top notch virtuoso. Put a different way, I don't think there has ever been anyone with a major international career as a concert pianist - you know, the kind who gets concerto dates with the world's major orchestras - who started learning how to play as an adult.

It can be done. I've seen it in other areas, particularly martial arts. The likelihood of someone waiting until adulthood to do this is very small, so there are very few cases, but it happens.
There have been several lengthy threads about whether or not any late starters(here I think the discussion meant say around 15 and not adults)ever achieving a major performing career. To the best of my knowledge the conclusion was that either no one had ever done or maybe(but probably not) 2 or 3 pianists. The few pianists that posters usually listed(I don't remember those usually mentioned) as those who have achieved major careers after starting piano lessons in their mid teems have been shown not to fit that description on closer examination.

So not only have adults not done this, but to the best of my based on those threads no one starting in their mid teens has achieved a major career.
Posted by: Ataru074

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/19/13 10:40 AM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Ataru074
I don't want to come with the 10.000 hours of dedicated practice... but at the end... I believe that real talent kicks in to reach that last 1% that makes your music "live" or that extra metronome mark..... real talent makes you Richter instead of anybody else with a phd in piano performance.... time and sweat makes you a pro over an amateur.
IMO talent is a continuum. Even "just" getting a Phd in piano performance takes a level of talent very high on the scale... at least the top 1/100th of one percent. For a Richter the talent level is obviously at the absolute extreme of the scale.

Maybe it's me... but I consider that top 1% people that did work hard, very hard, extremely hard... but real talent is what makes the difference between excellence and real genius. That kind of genius that pops out once in a while and we will be talking about even after his death.
An analogy we can have it with athletes... as well as pianist they need the right "genes" to make it to the Olympics... put it together with a lot of hard work spanning several years.. decades... but the real talent is in the one that does what nobody else can for a while... think about Carl Lewis.. or (the Olympics example would work for him) Sergei Bubka and his span of world records.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/19/13 10:46 AM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus=
I'm not sure why you are bringing up other fields - they are not directly comparable to classical piano playing, IMO.

The skill set may be different, but the industry sure works on similar principles, and that served my purpose well.

Quote:
And, come to think of it, even if someone could find such an example, the utter freakish rarity of it would mean that it was pretty useless as an example in any general discussion of why it is that people say that you can't acquire a real complete virtuoso technique as an adult.

So, because of a lack of evidence, you want to discredit this idea, but when there was zero evidence earlier of the existence of talent, that was fine? wink

Quote:
There have been several lengthy threads about whether or not any late starters(here I think the discussion meant say around 15 and not adults)ever achieving a major performing career. To the best of my knowledge the conclusion was that either no one had ever done or maybe(but probably not) 2 or 3 pianists. The few pianists that posters usually listed(I don't remember those usually mentioned) as those who have achieved major careers after starting piano lessons in their mid teems have been shown not to fit that description on closer examination.

So not only have adults not done this, but to the best of my based on those threads no one starting in their mid teens has achieved a major career.

Yeah, as far as I know, there aren't, either. Capable adults? Yes. International careers? No. That was kind of my point, too, so thank you for hammering it home. smile

I think, in that thread, the only possible example that came up was Arcadi Volodos, but even he started earlier if I remember the eventual unfolding of the discussion? (I think someone said he started at 15; then someone else pointed out that he started around 9; then it went all over the place from there, because he played another instrument before piano... I forget.)
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/19/13 11:51 AM

Originally Posted By: Ataru074
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Ataru074
I don't want to come with the 10.000 hours of dedicated practice... but at the end... I believe that real talent kicks in to reach that last 1% that makes your music "live" or that extra metronome mark..... real talent makes you Richter instead of anybody else with a phd in piano performance.... time and sweat makes you a pro over an amateur.
IMO talent is a continuum. Even "just" getting a Phd in piano performance takes a level of talent very high on the scale... at least the top 1/100th of one percent. For a Richter the talent level is obviously at the absolute extreme of the scale.

Maybe it's me... but I consider that top 1% people that did work hard, very hard, extremely hard... but real talent is what makes the difference between excellence and real genius. That kind of genius that pops out once in a while and we will be talking about even after his death.
An analogy we can have it with athletes... as well as pianist they need the right "genes" to make it to the Olympics... put it together with a lot of hard work spanning several years.. decades... but the real talent is in the one that does what nobody else can for a while... think about Carl Lewis.. or (the Olympics example would work for him) Sergei Bubka and his span of world records.
I completely agree. What I was commenting on was more your phrase "real talent", which somehow seemed to imply that pianists of a lesser league than Richter didn't have much talent. Hence, my comment that even those who "only" can earn a PhD in piano performance have an incredibly high level of talent if not on the Richter scale.
Posted by: Praeludium

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/19/13 12:01 PM

Volodos wwas singing before he took up the piano seriously, at 16.
French pianist Roger Muraro began to study the piano at 13 (he says it himself in a broadcast of Radio Classique, with Philippe Cassard). Previously, he was studying saxophone.


An interesting fact : a lot of classical guitarists the 60's/70's began late (because from what I gather it was difficult to get a proper teacher, classical guitar wasn't taught everywhere like it is today). I have never heard anyone saying it was a bag generation, and as far as I know many very good guitarists learnt during this period, often beginning at 15, 16, 17, etc.
Posted by: chopin_r_us

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/19/13 12:06 PM

Could we then finally rename this forum 'Pianists Corner where we now all accept international careers are not open to later starters'? That'd save a lot of posting in future.

obviously not.
Posted by: patH

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/19/13 12:21 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: JoelW

Your stance is what's ridiculous, to be blunt.

The thread is even more ridiculous...


I'm in favor of it being locked.

I'm against it. I enjoy reading it.
Posted by: patH

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/19/13 12:47 PM

I now read most posts on this thread.

One definition of talent that I came up with, after combining other definitions on this thread, is:
Talent is the ability to turn an innate aptitude into a skill.

Do all humans have the same innate aptitudes? I don't think so.
How much does the level of skill one can achieve depend on the innate aptitude? That's what we are debating here.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/19/13 01:24 PM

I see it as the innate aptitude.
I agree about not everyone having the same, and I think it's pretty clear that not too many people doubt it.
Posted by: beet31425

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/19/13 01:44 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
I see it as the innate aptitude.

Me too.

How about modifying patH's statement to: "Self-discipline is the ability to turn an innate aptitude into a skill."

-J
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/19/13 01:57 PM

Originally Posted By: Praeludium
Volodos wwas singing before he took up the piano seriously, at 16.French pianist Roger Muraro began to study the piano at 13 (he says it himself in a broadcast of Radio Classique, with Philippe Cassard). Previously, he was studying saxophone.
The key word of Volodos stateement is "seriously". He didn't say that he didn't study piano before 16 or that his didn't approach his study before 16 with quite a lot of care and effort. Other sources give 15 as the age when he decided piano would be his first choice as a musical career. So I don't think his case in any way disproves my earlier comment about all the great pianists starting early.
Posted by: patH

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/19/13 04:38 PM

Originally Posted By: beet31425
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
I see it as the innate aptitude.

Me too.

How about modifying patH's statement to: "Self-discipline is the ability to turn an innate aptitude into a skill."

-J

Thinking about it, maybe this makes more sense than my suggestion.
But there's this famous quote about genius being 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Variants replace "genius" with "art" or "success", and mention a 5/95 ratio.

Maybe becoming a virtuoso is 1% of innate aptitude and 99% hard work.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/19/13 05:12 PM

I find it bizarre that when a young person has a phenomenal vocal ability, I think no one would deny it's part talent (as in a natural gift) but some feel that this is not true for piano playing.

Anyone really think anyone can sing like this at a similar age without talent?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKGCpMSFjlU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fG8RvKtQXZ0
Posted by: mermilylumpkin

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/19/13 05:44 PM

Part of the reason I think vocal ability is more innate is because you only get one vocal apparatus, ever, and it's built in. It's easy to imagine that from a pure physiological perspective, some people end up with a "Steinway" and some people end up with a 1902 clunker. Pianism on the other hand, has fairly little to do with the built-in physiology of your hand and arm (though many of the greats are said to have had massive hands), and much more to do with the mental processes involved in putting your limbs to work. In other words, you can go down to a Steinway showroom whenever you like and play on a 50 grand value piano, but you can't trade up for a different larynx and lots of singers are probably moreso considered great on the basis of their "equipment" (as well as interpretation of course).
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/19/13 05:48 PM

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
Part of the reason I think vocal ability is more innate is because you only get one vocal apparatus, ever, and it's built in. It's easy to imagine that from a pure physiological perspective, some people end up with a "Steinway" and some people end up with a 1902 clunker. Pianism on the other hand, has fairly little to do with the physiology of your hand and arm (though many of the greats are said to have had massive hands), and much more to do with the mental processes involved in putting your limbs to work.
To some extent I agree and this is why few would argue about vocal talent. OTOH one could say only gets one set of hands and arms and one brain to direct them. My view is that the talent aspect is probably more critical for the voice but still critical for the piano. Just my intuitive view and certainly not based on personal experience with great talents in either field.
Posted by: sophial

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/19/13 07:10 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
Part of the reason I think vocal ability is more innate is because you only get one vocal apparatus, ever, and it's built in. It's easy to imagine that from a pure physiological perspective, some people end up with a "Steinway" and some people end up with a 1902 clunker. Pianism on the other hand, has fairly little to do with the physiology of your hand and arm (though many of the greats are said to have had massive hands), and much more to do with the mental processes involved in putting your limbs to work.
To some extent I agree and this is why few would argue about vocal talent. OTOH one could say only gets one set of hands and arms and one brain to direct them. My view is that the talent aspect is probably more critical for the voice but still critical for the piano.


I think the physical and cognitive attributes needed to play the piano are distributed on the same kind of normal curve as other human attributes. Those at the far end of that curve (actually who are simultaneously at the far end of all of those curves of attributes needed to play at a high level, the lucky few) are what we would call talented. It may not be as obvious as the voice, but the same principle applies, I think.
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/20/13 06:44 AM

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
Pianism on the other hand, has fairly little to do with the built-in physiology of your hand and arm (though many of the greats are said to have had massive hands), and much more to do with the mental processes involved in putting your limbs to work.


Maybe in the externals, but I think there's probably a lot of correlation of "talent" to certain physical characteristics such as the ratio of fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscles a person has. Apparently the connections between left and right brain hemispheres, and how much a person has, could be involved, too.
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/20/13 08:06 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus=
[sic - this quote should be attributed to wr]

And, come to think of it, even if someone could find such an example, the utter freakish rarity of it would mean that it was pretty useless as an example in any general discussion of why it is that people say that you can't acquire a real complete virtuoso technique as an adult.

So, because of a lack of evidence, you want to discredit this idea, but when there was zero evidence earlier of the existence of talent, that was fine? wink



The equivalency you draw is false. On the one hand we have something that most people here seem to agree is a real phenomenon which they have observed or experienced, but on the other, we have something that no one has ever encountered. There's no point in comparing them.
Posted by: Old Man

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/20/13 03:02 PM

Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus=
[sic - this quote should be attributed to wr]
And, come to think of it, even if someone could find such an example, the utter freakish rarity of it would mean that it was pretty useless as an example in any general discussion of why it is that people say that you can't acquire a real complete virtuoso technique as an adult.

So, because of a lack of evidence, you want to discredit this idea, but when there was zero evidence earlier of the existence of talent, that was fine? wink
The equivalency you draw is false. On the one hand we have something that most people here seem to agree is a real phenomenon which they have observed or experienced, but on the other, we have something that no one has ever encountered. There's no point in comparing them.

I agree. I think there's plenty of evidence (as opposed to "proof") to support the thesis that some people are naturally gifted. The mere fact that there have been children who perform in public with orchestras within 3-6 years after starting lessons IMO provides ample evidence right there. Environment is an important factor, but it cannot explain it.

The ideal would be to conduct studies where a five-year old prodigy would be tracked along side a five-year old of "average" talent. (The problem, of course, is how to "pre-identify" such a prodigy.) But if it could be done, and the children both received identical parenting, training, nurturing, etc. for a period of let's say 3 years, I guarantee that the prodigy would be light years ahead of the other child, and that this would be self-evident, even to a non-musician.

But, dammit, I can't prove it. Nevertheless, I do guarantee it. grin
Posted by: patH

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/20/13 04:36 PM

Originally Posted By: Old Man
The ideal would be to conduct studies where a five-year old prodigy would be tracked along side a five-year old of "average" talent. (The problem, of course, is how to "pre-identify" such a prodigy.) But if it could be done, and the children both received identical parenting, training, nurturing, etc. for a period of let's say 3 years, I guarantee that the prodigy would be light years ahead of the other child, and that this would be self-evident, even to a non-musician.

But, dammit, I can't prove it. Nevertheless, I do guarantee it. grin

I don't. Because one factor is missing: Ambition. Maybe the "prodigy" does not want to become a world-class pianist, and will not practise as seriously as the "average" child.

In this case, the "average" child might reach the same level as the "prodigy"; but will have to work harder to achieve it.
Posted by: Old Man

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/20/13 04:59 PM

Originally Posted By: patH
Originally Posted By: Old Man
The ideal would be to conduct studies where a five-year old prodigy would be tracked along side a five-year old of "average" talent. (The problem, of course, is how to "pre-identify" such a prodigy.) But if it could be done, and the children both received identical parenting, training, nurturing, etc. for a period of let's say 3 years, I guarantee that the prodigy would be light years ahead of the other child, and that this would be self-evident, even to a non-musician.

But, dammit, I can't prove it. Nevertheless, I do guarantee it. grin

I don't. Because one factor is missing: Ambition. Maybe the "prodigy" does not want to become a world-class pianist, and will not practise as seriously as the "average" child.

In this case, the "average" child might reach the same level as the "prodigy"; but will have to work harder to achieve it.

Well, yes, ambition would be one of thousands of variables. But I wasn't trying to list all the variables. smile What I was trying to say is that if all variables were equal except innate ability/talent, the results would be exponentially different.
Posted by: patH

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/20/13 05:17 PM

Originally Posted By: Old Man
What I was trying to say is that if all variables were equal except innate ability/talent, the results would be exponentially different.

This I can agree with; but maybe not exponentially.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/21/13 06:23 PM

Originally Posted By: patH
Talent is the ability to turn an innate aptitude into a skill.

I think this is the crux of the debate. I, for one, do not believe we are born able to do much of anything. So, in my case, I would have to disagree with your definition, since I don't think anything is actually "innate".

Originally Posted By: beet31425
How about modifying patH's statement to: "Self-discipline is the ability to turn an innate aptitude into a skill."

I think this is getting much closer, but we are still dealing with something that is "innate". I might go for "turning something that you don't know into something that you do know," but I still have to disagree that we are born with any particular skill set.

Originally Posted By: patH
Maybe becoming a virtuoso is 1% of innate aptitude and 99% hard work.

You're only 1% off in your estimate. wink

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I find it bizarre that when a young person has a phenomenal vocal ability, I think no one would deny it's part talent (as in a natural gift) but some feel that this is not true for piano playing.

Anyone really think anyone can sing like this at a similar age without talent?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKGCpMSFjlU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fG8RvKtQXZ0


I think Jackie is a much better example. I saw that episode live--one of the few I've actually watched. She blew me away with her voice; and I would certainly concede that, at 12 years old, she has an exceedingly rare ability. But what I see is a well-groomed youngster who dedicated herself wholly to her craft. Did her vocal chords better position her to find success so young? Perhaps. But that's not talent. It's more like saying someone who is 7' tall has a better chance of dunking a basketball than someone who is 5' tall. (I think mermilylumpkin summed this up rather nicely with his discussion of the vocal apparatus.)

You responded to mermily, and your response seemed to indicate that the physical apparatus with which one is given is what "talent" is. Am I on par there, or did I read you wrong? If I did read you right, could we then say that you would consider someone born with a Steinway concert grand to be more talented than someone born with an 1850's Pleyel upright? This, to me, doesn't seem to make sense, and so that is why I think I misunderstood what you wrote. smile

Originally Posted By: sophial
I think the physical and cognitive attributes needed to play the piano are distributed on the same kind of normal curve as other human attributes. Those at the far end of that curve (actually who are simultaneously at the far end of all of those curves of attributes needed to play at a high level, the lucky few) are what we would call talented. It may not be as obvious as the voice, but the same principle applies, I think.

This is about as close I would come to accepting a definition for 'talent' based on the current discussion. But, I'm not sure that being at the extreme far end of the spectrum, or rather, not being there, denies you the ability to play at such a 'high' level. I think it predisposes you to be able to learn quicker, but I think that, over the course of a career, that curve is not so steep that someone who is not at that extreme end could not catch up, or even surpass, the person who is at that far end. Meaning, of course, that "talent" (should it exist) as a measure of "potential success" is meaningless.

Originally Posted By: wr
The equivalency you draw is false. On the one hand we have something that most people here seem to agree is a real phenomenon which they have observed or experienced, but on the other, we have something that no one has ever encountered. There's no point in comparing them.

Naturally, I think you expected me to disagree with your conclusion. My train of thought at this point tends more towards the abstract, since that is where we are currently heading, and those whose minds are firmly made up will have difficulty navigating these waters. That's not to say that anyone necessarily needs to venture this far out, but those seeking the "truth", I'm sure, will enjoy the conversation. By your response, I'm not sure if you're trying to reel me in, or join me. wink

Here is my point of contention: On the one hand, we have something that has yet to be defined (or proved to exist), that many people have claimed to observe. Because of a lack of definition (or evidence, other than "groupthink"), this thing has been called "talent".

Originally Posted By: Old Man
I agree. I think there's plenty of evidence (as opposed to "proof") to support the thesis that some people are naturally gifted. The mere fact that there have been children who perform in public with orchestras within 3-6 years after starting lessons IMO provides ample evidence right there. Environment is an important factor, but it cannot explain it.

The ideal would be to conduct studies where a five-year old prodigy would be tracked along side a five-year old of "average" talent. (The problem, of course, is how to "pre-identify" such a prodigy.) But if it could be done, and the children both received identical parenting, training, nurturing, etc. for a period of let's say 3 years, I guarantee that the prodigy would be light years ahead of the other child, and that this would be self-evident, even to a non-musician.

But, dammit, I can't prove it. Nevertheless, I do guarantee it. grin

If only we could actually do this study, I, too, would be very interested in the results. But I think we'd need to start at the conception of identical twins to rule out other factors that may have occurred before the child turned five. One set from a musical family. The other set from a non-musical family. Sadly, we venture towards Mengele's territory, and I doubt (with good reason) that such an experiment would ever be allowable.

And, of course, as I read, there are still other factors beyond our control. Ambition being a major one. But yes, all things being equal, this would be a very interesting study that might answer many of the questions posed in this thread.
Posted by: mermilylumpkin

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/21/13 07:31 PM

No, my argument was that vocal "talent" is driven moreso by what you're born with than instrumental "talent" since the voice is an instrument that's built into your body. I was meaning to contradict the person before me who said that no one would deny that X 12 year old on Australian Idol had natural talent, yet here we are debating natural piano talent. In my opinion, pianism comes down mostly to the thought processes you use to approach musical tasks/problems over a long, long span of time (big hands also being a plus), and requires a sort of Herculean life-or-death drive at the highest levels. Since thought processes are content-driven and since you're not born with thoughts pre-inserted in your mind, I think that musical talent is not innate.

I'm not particularly invested, though. I am a first grade teacher and I'm quite unorthodox in that I believe very little in "intelligence" and very much in the confluence of drive, motivation, hard work and privilege. I've never had a child whom I personally believed to be a "slow" reader, though they may have been regarded as such by other teachers and I've had several with various reading problems that I thought were unrelated to potential aptitude. Some previously very low performing children have performed very well after going through my class. I think it's the result of the fact that I didn't think they were limited by low intelligence, so I looked to solve other problems that were holding them back more methodically. Anyway, it's not directly related, but I think it influences how I think about other domains. I've never felt limited by a lack of talent since I don't believe in it as a make-or-break factor. There's no reason not to practice three hours per day since I can't see a hard-and-fast wall I'm going to hit. Then I find after practicing three hours a day for a really long time I come across as having much more "talent" and ease and natural facility even though I am the same old dull me, just a hard working me.
Posted by: sophial

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/21/13 10:39 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux


Originally Posted By: sophial
I think the physical and cognitive attributes needed to play the piano are distributed on the same kind of normal curve as other human attributes. Those at the far end of that curve (actually who are simultaneously at the far end of all of those curves of attributes needed to play at a high level, the lucky few) are what we would call talented. It may not be as obvious as the voice, but the same principle applies, I think.

This is about as close I would come to accepting a definition for 'talent' based on the current discussion. But, I'm not sure that being at the extreme far end of the spectrum, or rather, not being there, denies you the ability to play at such a 'high' level. I think it predisposes you to be able to learn quicker, but I think that, over the course of a career, that curve is not so steep that someone who is not at that extreme end could not catch up, or even surpass, the person who is at that far end. Meaning, of course, that "talent" (should it exist) as a measure of "potential success" is meaningless.



Physical equipment (brain, nervous system, reflexes, coordination) of course is part of talent depending on what the talent is for. Chess for example relies not so much on physical abilities as mental ones. Sprinting may need more fast twitch musculature than marathon running. Piano likely involves some very complex mix of physical, mental and emotional aptitudes. Individuals who start with more natural endowment have the "gifted" advantage. Can those who don't catch up? Perhaps someone who is close to that high end can, by dint of hard work, overtake a lazy gifted individual but if the extremely talented person works extremely hard, those not so gifted, especially those just average or below average, are unlikely to ever get close to them. At the high levels of classical music, the curve is extremely steep and only a few make it to the top of the pyramid despite working extremely hard. It's no different for Olympic level athletes. How many runners are out there who train just as hard if not harder than Usain Bolt but never get close to his times? That is not to say that hard work is not necessary or important -- but the person without the underlying attributes will always be at a disadvantage.

The fact is that not everyone can be a concert pianist at the level of a Kissin, Wang, Argerich or Pollini no matter how hard we're willing to work. That also doesn't mean that with hard work we can't improve and realize our potential, which might, with dedication and practice, be more than we ever thought.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/21/13 11:08 PM

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
No, my argument was that vocal "talent" is driven moreso by what you're born with than instrumental "talent" since the voice is an instrument that's built into your body. I was meaning to contradict the person before me who said that no one would deny that X 12 year old on Australian Idol had natural talent, yet here we are debating natural piano talent. In my opinion, pianism comes down mostly to the thought processes you use to approach musical tasks/problems over a long, long span of time (big hands also being a plus), and requires a sort of Herculean life-or-death drive at the highest levels. Since thought processes are content-driven and since you're not born with thoughts pre-inserted in your mind, I think that musical talent is not innate.

I'm not particularly invested, though. I am a first grade teacher and I'm quite unorthodox in that I believe very little in "intelligence" and very much in the confluence of drive, motivation, hard work and privilege. I've never had a child whom I personally believed to be a "slow" reader, though they may have been regarded as such by other teachers and I've had several with various reading problems that I thought were unrelated to potential aptitude. Some previously very low performing children have performed very well after going through my class. I think it's the result of the fact that I didn't think they were limited by low intelligence, so I looked to solve other problems that were holding them back more methodically. Anyway, it's not directly related, but I think it influences how I think about other domains. I've never felt limited by a lack of talent since I don't believe in it as a make-or-break factor. There's no reason not to practice three hours per day since I can't see a hard-and-fast wall I'm going to hit. Then I find after practicing three hours a day for a really long time I come across as having much more "talent" and ease and natural facility even though I am the same old dull me, just a hard working me.

I don't find it surprising at all that you are a teacher. I am the product of a family of teachers (I am the non-teacher black sheep, lol). Even my girlfriend is a teacher. Every one of them shares a very similar philosophy (as do I).

Originally Posted By: sophial
It's no different for Olympic level athletes. How many runners are out there who train just as hard if not harder than Usain Bolt but never get close to his times? That is not to say that hard work is not necessary or important -- but the person without the underlying attributes will always be at a disadvantage.

I happen to be someone who has reached the pinnacle of an athletic endeavor. Having been heavily invested in more than one sport throughout my life, and having succeeded at the highest level in one of them, I can only tell you what I have seen from every single person with whom I have ever been in competition, or in which sport I have ever competed. That is: he who works hardest, smartest, and longest, wins. I have never, ever found an exception to this rule.
Posted by: sophial

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/22/13 12:02 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
No, my argument was that vocal "talent" is driven moreso by what you're born with than instrumental "talent" since the voice is an instrument that's built into your body. I was meaning to contradict the person before me who said that no one would deny that X 12 year old on Australian Idol had natural talent, yet here we are debating natural piano talent. In my opinion, pianism comes down mostly to the thought processes you use to approach musical tasks/problems over a long, long span of time (big hands also being a plus), and requires a sort of Herculean life-or-death drive at the highest levels. Since thought processes are content-driven and since you're not born with thoughts pre-inserted in your mind, I think that musical talent is not innate.

I'm not particularly invested, though. I am a first grade teacher and I'm quite unorthodox in that I believe very little in "intelligence" and very much in the confluence of drive, motivation, hard work and privilege. I've never had a child whom I personally believed to be a "slow" reader, though they may have been regarded as such by other teachers and I've had several with various reading problems that I thought were unrelated to potential aptitude. Some previously very low performing children have performed very well after going through my class. I think it's the result of the fact that I didn't think they were limited by low intelligence, so I looked to solve other problems that were holding them back more methodically. Anyway, it's not directly related, but I think it influences how I think about other domains. I've never felt limited by a lack of talent since I don't believe in it as a make-or-break factor. There's no reason not to practice three hours per day since I can't see a hard-and-fast wall I'm going to hit. Then I find after practicing three hours a day for a really long time I come across as having much more "talent" and ease and natural facility even though I am the same old dull me, just a hard working me.

I don't find it surprising at all that you are a teacher. I am the product of a family of teachers (I am the non-teacher black sheep, lol). Even my girlfriend is a teacher. Every one of them shares a very similar philosophy (as do I).

Originally Posted By: sophial
It's no different for Olympic level athletes. How many runners are out there who train just as hard if not harder than Usain Bolt but never get close to his times? That is not to say that hard work is not necessary or important -- but the person without the underlying attributes will always be at a disadvantage.

I happen to be someone who has reached the pinnacle of an athletic endeavor. Having been heavily invested in more than one sport throughout my life, and having succeeded at the highest level in one of them, I can only tell you what I have seen from every single person with whom I have ever been in competition, or in which sport I have ever competed. That is: he who works hardest, smartest, and longest, wins. I have never, ever found an exception to this rule.



By the time you get to the highest levels of competition, those of only average or below average aptitude have likely already been weeded out, so training will be even more important in differentiating among those who are left, since you' re dealing with the top part of the distribution. I"m not arguing against the importance of hard work, but human aptitudes are not all distributed equally and contribute to performance more than I think you are acknowledging.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/22/13 02:05 AM

Originally Posted By: sophial
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
No, my argument was that vocal "talent" is driven moreso by what you're born with than instrumental "talent" since the voice is an instrument that's built into your body. I was meaning to contradict the person before me who said that no one would deny that X 12 year old on Australian Idol had natural talent, yet here we are debating natural piano talent. In my opinion, pianism comes down mostly to the thought processes you use to approach musical tasks/problems over a long, long span of time (big hands also being a plus), and requires a sort of Herculean life-or-death drive at the highest levels. Since thought processes are content-driven and since you're not born with thoughts pre-inserted in your mind, I think that musical talent is not innate.

I'm not particularly invested, though. I am a first grade teacher and I'm quite unorthodox in that I believe very little in "intelligence" and very much in the confluence of drive, motivation, hard work and privilege. I've never had a child whom I personally believed to be a "slow" reader, though they may have been regarded as such by other teachers and I've had several with various reading problems that I thought were unrelated to potential aptitude. Some previously very low performing children have performed very well after going through my class. I think it's the result of the fact that I didn't think they were limited by low intelligence, so I looked to solve other problems that were holding them back more methodically. Anyway, it's not directly related, but I think it influences how I think about other domains. I've never felt limited by a lack of talent since I don't believe in it as a make-or-break factor. There's no reason not to practice three hours per day since I can't see a hard-and-fast wall I'm going to hit. Then I find after practicing three hours a day for a really long time I come across as having much more "talent" and ease and natural facility even though I am the same old dull me, just a hard working me.

I don't find it surprising at all that you are a teacher. I am the product of a family of teachers (I am the non-teacher black sheep, lol). Even my girlfriend is a teacher. Every one of them shares a very similar philosophy (as do I).

Originally Posted By: sophial
It's no different for Olympic level athletes. How many runners are out there who train just as hard if not harder than Usain Bolt but never get close to his times? That is not to say that hard work is not necessary or important -- but the person without the underlying attributes will always be at a disadvantage.

I happen to be someone who has reached the pinnacle of an athletic endeavor. Having been heavily invested in more than one sport throughout my life, and having succeeded at the highest level in one of them, I can only tell you what I have seen from every single person with whom I have ever been in competition, or in which sport I have ever competed. That is: he who works hardest, smartest, and longest, wins. I have never, ever found an exception to this rule.



By the time you get to the highest levels of competition, those of only average or below average aptitude have likely already been weeded out, so training will be even more important in differentiating among those who are left, since you' re dealing with the top part of the distribution. I"m not arguing against the importance of hard work, but human aptitudes are not all distributed equally and contribute to performance more than I think you are acknowledging.

We took much of that into account earlier in the discussion by suggesting those who do not have at least a competent capacity for learning might be significantly handicapped so that no amount of work may get them to their goal. We did not use this description to indicate that the remainder who were able had any kind of "talent", but that the rest had a significant handicap along the lines of trying to play with two hands, but only having one hand. (Or, perhaps, trying to read without being able to see.)

The remaining fluctuations, many of us had agreed (I think), were small enough to be overcome. And I think the tack of the discussion was leaning towards the fluency and speed with which one overcomes the obstacles, and what variables influenced that outcome.

We still have some disagreement on the nature of the variables--and of course, I certainly don't expect us all to agree on everything smile --and what constitutes evidence of a variable. In this case, "talent" in particular.


More specifically to our conversation, I would like to address a potential discrepancy here:
Quote:
By the time you get to the highest levels of competition, those of only average or below average aptitude have likely already been weeded out

If you mean "aptitude" to mean "potential", then I heartily disagree. If, however, you intended "aptitude" to mean "ability at that moment," then I would immediately agree. I have see every range of competitive potential reach the top level. I've seen below-average people win at the world level because they decided they would not be denied, and worked their tails off 10x harder than anyone else to make sure they won. They started "behind the curve" so-to-speak, but worked hard enough to catch up and surpass those who were ahead of them. (And you can tell when someone like this wins for the first time--it's written all over their face.) So, in that respect, I agree that only the "best" reach that world stage, but I would disagree that previous potential is a determining factor (or even a contributing factor). smile
Posted by: sophial

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/22/13 11:06 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: sophial
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
No, my argument was that vocal "talent" is driven moreso by what you're born with than instrumental "talent" since the voice is an instrument that's built into your body. I was meaning to contradict the person before me who said that no one would deny that X 12 year old on Australian Idol had natural talent, yet here we are debating natural piano talent. In my opinion, pianism comes down mostly to the thought processes you use to approach musical tasks/problems over a long, long span of time (big hands also being a plus), and requires a sort of Herculean life-or-death drive at the highest levels. Since thought processes are content-driven and since you're not born with thoughts pre-inserted in your mind, I think that musical talent is not innate.

I'm not particularly invested, though. I am a first grade teacher and I'm quite unorthodox in that I believe very little in "intelligence" and very much in the confluence of drive, motivation, hard work and privilege. I've never had a child whom I personally believed to be a "slow" reader, though they may have been regarded as such by other teachers and I've had several with various reading problems that I thought were unrelated to potential aptitude. Some previously very low performing children have performed very well after going through my class. I think it's the result of the fact that I didn't think they were limited by low intelligence, so I looked to solve other problems that were holding them back more methodically. Anyway, it's not directly related, but I think it influences how I think about other domains. I've never felt limited by a lack of talent since I don't believe in it as a make-or-break factor. There's no reason not to practice three hours per day since I can't see a hard-and-fast wall I'm going to hit. Then I find after practicing three hours a day for a really long time I come across as having much more "talent" and ease and natural facility even though I am the same old dull me, just a hard working me.

I don't find it surprising at all that you are a teacher. I am the product of a family of teachers (I am the non-teacher black sheep, lol). Even my girlfriend is a teacher. Every one of them shares a very similar philosophy (as do I).

Originally Posted By: sophial
It's no different for Olympic level athletes. How many runners are out there who train just as hard if not harder than Usain Bolt but never get close to his times? That is not to say that hard work is not necessary or important -- but the person without the underlying attributes will always be at a disadvantage.

I happen to be someone who has reached the pinnacle of an athletic endeavor. Having been heavily invested in more than one sport throughout my life, and having succeeded at the highest level in one of them, I can only tell you what I have seen from every single person with whom I have ever been in competition, or in which sport I have ever competed. That is: he who works hardest, smartest, and longest, wins. I have never, ever found an exception to this rule.



By the time you get to the highest levels of competition, those of only average or below average aptitude have likely already been weeded out, so training will be even more important in differentiating among those who are left, since you' re dealing with the top part of the distribution. I"m not arguing against the importance of hard work, but human aptitudes are not all distributed equally and contribute to performance more than I think you are acknowledging.

We took much of that into account earlier in the discussion by suggesting those who do not have at least a competent capacity for learning might be significantly handicapped so that no amount of work may get them to their goal. We did not use this description to indicate that the remainder who were able had any kind of "talent", but that the rest had a significant handicap along the lines of trying to play with two hands, but only having one hand. (Or, perhaps, trying to read without being able to see.)

The remaining fluctuations, many of us had agreed (I think), were small enough to be overcome. And I think the tack of the discussion was leaning towards the fluency and speed with which one overcomes the obstacles, and what variables influenced that outcome.

We still have some disagreement on the nature of the variables--and of course, I certainly don't expect us all to agree on everything smile --and what constitutes evidence of a variable. In this case, "talent" in particular.


More specifically to our conversation, I would like to address a potential discrepancy here:
Quote:
By the time you get to the highest levels of competition, those of only average or below average aptitude have likely already been weeded out

If you mean "aptitude" to mean "potential", then I heartily disagree. If, however, you intended "aptitude" to mean "ability at that moment," then I would immediately agree. I have see every range of competitive potential reach the top level. I've seen below-average people win at the world level because they decided they would not be denied, and worked their tails off 10x harder than anyone else to make sure they won. They started "behind the curve" so-to-speak, but worked hard enough to catch up and surpass those who were ahead of them. (And you can tell when someone like this wins for the first time--it's written all over their face.) So, in that respect, I agree that only the "best" reach that world stage, but I would disagree that previous potential is a determining factor (or even a contributing factor). smile



We’re obviously seeing this very differently. You seem to be saying that once we take out of the discussion those with a severe enough disability to make the activity impossible, at that point everyone is on a level playing field. I disagree. There is a great deal of data to support the idea that aptitudes are distributed on a normal curve. That does not mean that one cannot improve performance via focused practice, but it may mean that certain physical or mental aptitudes may allow performance at a level that would be very difficult if not impossible for someone who does not have those aptitudes at that level. We used the example of singers who have a physical apparatus for making beautiful sound as one example. If a skill is not terribly difficult or the level of performance required is not extremely high, most people will likely have sufficient aptitude to learn it to competence and “talent” may not play as much of a role as hard work and practice (drawing a square or a circle well, to take an overly simple example). If the skill is at an extremely high and complex level, and the standards for performance also extremely high (painting the Mona Lisa), there will be a greater spread of performance and perhaps a greater advantage to those who both have aptitude for that particular skill and have practiced and worked very hard .

So suppose we took 1000 children who did not play piano at random and taught them similarly and enforced the same program of focused practice. Most would learn, and many would become very good, but do you think they would all come out with equal levels of performance? Would they all be equally proficient or would there be a distribution with some performing much better than others, particularly as the repertoire got more difficult and the standards of performance higher? Very likely, they would fall out on a distribution that is likely at least in part due to underlying aptitude.

What is more consistent with what we observe? We see in classical piano some people demonstrate an uncanny ability at a very young age (Nelson Freire made his recital debut at age 4, I believe) and very few concert pianists did not show unusual ability at a young age. Did they practice? No doubt, but something differentiated them from the large numbers of children who practiced as well. If everyone who put in the time, effort and discipline to practice could become Pollini or Argerich, why aren’t our concert halls not more crowded with artists of this caliber?

So one more time, because you seem to miss this – I strongly believe that focused practice and hard work are necessary ingredients to high level performance but I am not convinced that by themselves they are sufficient to get to the very highest levels without the underlying aptitudes – physical, mental, emotional- for which we use the shorthand term of “talent”. I also strongly believe that individuals can accomplish amazing things and maximize performance through focused, disciplined practice, and that this perspective should not deter that.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/22/13 01:36 PM

Originally Posted By: sophial
We’re obviously seeing this very differently.

Yes, we are, and I am fine with that. I enjoy the discussion anyway. smile

Quote:
You seem to be saying that once we take out of the discussion those with a severe enough disability to make the activity impossible, at that point everyone is on a level playing field.

Not quite. I'm saying it puts them on a level enough playing field that any differences can be overcome. I am also saying I don't call the "differences" "talent". I believe the differences are not innate, but are crafted by who the person is, what the person has done and learned throughout their life (however brief), how the person approaches a task, and with what level of determination (some might substitute the word interest, also).

Quote:
There is a great deal of data to support the idea that aptitudes are distributed on a normal curve.

There certainly is, but the majority of it comes from what happens after birth, not what happens during genetic sequencing. Thus, it is not "innate", but learned.

Quote:
So suppose we took 1000 children who did not play piano at random and taught them similarly and enforced the same program of focused practice. Most would learn, and many would become very good, but do you think they would all come out with equal levels of performance? Would they all be equally proficient or would there be a distribution with some performing much better than others, particularly as the repertoire got more difficult and the standards of performance higher? Very likely, they would fall out on a distribution that is likely at least in part due to underlying aptitude.

We've used this example in varying forms throughout the discussion, and found there to be too many variables to adequately control the experiment. The two greatest variables ignored in this iteration: exposure to music and/or other instruments prior to the experiment, and interest in the task. Suppose one of those children already plays another instrument and can read music fluently. They would naturally appear more "talented" than someone coming in with zero knowledge. Suppose one kid is unnaturally interested and focused. Another kid is not. The focused kid will learn much faster and appear more "talented". Suppose some kid never typed on a computer. Another kid happened to learn how to do it correctly. That skill directly translates to manipulation of the piano keyboard, so that kid will appear more "talented". There are just too many variables to rule them out--but if we somehow could get a real experiment started, this would be a very interesting study, indeed.

Quote:
If everyone who put in the time, effort and discipline to practice could become Pollini or Argerich, why aren’t our concert halls not more crowded with artists of this caliber?

Art is difficult for several reasons. One, it is highly subjective. There are probably hundreds of students in conservatories who can play as well or better than both of those artists, particularly when the artists were the same age. Two, art is, for the most part, slow to accept new members (due to reason number one). People have their 'champions', and nobody could possibly ever be better than them. So, typically, you have to be dead a while before you are finally accepted. Three, the market can't support it. There aren't enough people paying to go to these concerts to have 10,000 top-tier pianists, so those who attract the largest crowds are the ones who get on stage.

Quote:
So one more time, because you seem to miss this –

I didn't miss anything; I simply disagreed. wink


**Edited for grammar. Otherwise, I would sound like an even bigger idiot. grin
Posted by: patH

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/22/13 03:27 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: patH
Talent is the ability to turn an innate aptitude into a skill.

I think this is the crux of the debate. I, for one, do not believe we are born able to do much of anything. So, in my case, I would have to disagree with your definition, since I don't think anything is actually "innate".

I disagree. There are "innate", meaning, not learned aptidudes and potentials within each person, and these differ. And we are born with different potentials. You said so yourself, when you said:
Originally Posted By: Derulux
It's more like saying someone who is 7' tall has a better chance of dunking a basketball than someone who is 5' tall.
The difference in size is innate and makes for a different potential for becoming a Basketball player. Therefore, a person who is 1m55 high will have to work much harder to become a great basketball player than a person who is 2m high.
The same is true for track and field. Sophial mentioned Usain Bolt. I remember last year, during the Olympic Games, it was said that because of his limb length, and the proportion of foot and leg length, he had a "natural" disposition for running. And even if another athlete works as hard as Usain Bolt, he will always be outran if he has the built of, say, Warwick Davis.
When you say:
Originally Posted By: Derulux
I've seen below-average people win at the world level because they decided they would not be denied, and worked their tails off 10x harder than anyone else to make sure they won.
You concede that they had to work 10x harder. So their potential was smaller; but they overcame it and turned the potential they had into a skill.

Going back to pianists: Some physical traits that are not learned (like length of fingers and robustness of sinews and muscles) might increase a person's potential to become a pianist. However, we know that there have been pianists with handicaps like bad back (Glenn Gould), or fragile bones (Michel Petrucciani); and they worked hard and found their niche in which they were successful. Maybe pianists with small hands will never be able to play Rachmaninoff; but they might excel in other areas. Or to paraphrase Jeff Goldblum in "Independence Day": If you can't find a way past your physical limitations, find a way around them.
So to answer the OPs question on how to become a virtuoso (maximize one's abilities): Find your potential and explore it. Play to your strengths.
Posted by: mermilylumpkin

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/22/13 04:03 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted By: Derulux
I've seen below-average people win at the world level because they decided they would not be denied, and worked their tails off 10x harder than anyone else to make sure they won.
You concede that they had to work 10x harder. So their potential was smaller; but they overcame it and turned the potential they had into a skill.


Again, this is more on the pedagogical/neuroscience side but there's some really interesting research on what people believe is responsible for their success and how it impacts achievement. There was a very popular article on the New York Times, which I wish I could find and can't. The upshot was that they did some studies about how parents praise children across various families and cultures. Some of the parents would say to their children after solving a tricky math problem, "Good job! You are so smart!" Other would comment, "You got that one right. I can tell you worked really hard on that!" They experimented with the different types of parent feedback, while ramping up the difficulty of the task. What they found is that children who attributed the success to their intelligence, as a result of the feedback, tended to shut down after the problems began to get really difficult, whereas the ones who were being repeatedly told that they were successful because they were trying hard approached the challenging problems with verve and excitement and curiosity. The hypothesis was that children who attributed their success to intelligence felt like the solutions to the problems was outside of their locus of control and that it would be a negative reflection on their intelligence level if they attempted the difficult problems and were to fail.

Anyway, that's just to say that maybe it's better to believe that you can achieve truly outstanding success if you work as hard as possible, whether there exists a bell curve or not. (I do think there are bell curves, but then, I --personally-- also believe that they are produced by socioeconomics, motivation, family background, attachment and language exposure rather than what we think of as raw intelligence. The IQ test has a pretty storied history if you look at its origins and the creator happened to also be pretty big into eugenics, which makes me think of it as a social construct rather than an objective measure. But that's way off track isn't it? Sorry for the digression )
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/22/13 04:47 PM

Originally Posted By: patH
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: patH
Talent is the ability to turn an innate aptitude into a skill.

I think this is the crux of the debate. I, for one, do not believe we are born able to do much of anything. So, in my case, I would have to disagree with your definition, since I don't think anything is actually "innate".

I disagree. There are "innate", meaning, not learned aptidudes and potentials within each person, and these differ. And we are born with different potentials. You said so yourself, when you said:
Originally Posted By: Derulux
It's more like saying someone who is 7' tall has a better chance of dunking a basketball than someone who is 5' tall.
The difference in size is innate and makes for a different potential for becoming a Basketball player. Therefore, a person who is 1m55 high will have to work much harder to become a great basketball player than a person who is 2m high.
The same is true for track and field. Sophial mentioned Usain Bolt. I remember last year, during the Olympic Games, it was said that because of his limb length, and the proportion of foot and leg length, he had a "natural" disposition for running. And even if another athlete works as hard as Usain Bolt, he will always be outran if he has the built of, say, Warwick Davis.
When you say:
Originally Posted By: Derulux
I've seen below-average people win at the world level because they decided they would not be denied, and worked their tails off 10x harder than anyone else to make sure they won.
You concede that they had to work 10x harder. So their potential was smaller; but they overcame it and turned the potential they had into a skill.

Going back to pianists: Some physical traits that are not learned (like length of fingers and robustness of sinews and muscles) might increase a person's potential to become a pianist. However, we know that there have been pianists with handicaps like bad back (Glenn Gould), or fragile bones (Michel Petrucciani); and they worked hard and found their niche in which they were successful. Maybe pianists with small hands will never be able to play Rachmaninoff; but they might excel in other areas. Or to paraphrase Jeff Goldblum in "Independence Day": If you can't find a way past your physical limitations, find a way around them.
So to answer the OPs question on how to become a virtuoso (maximize one's abilities): Find your potential and explore it. Play to your strengths.

If not for your recap at the end, I would have disagreed with everything you said, but perhaps not for the obvious reason. smile

There have been several arguments brought up in the thread, and they have sort of co-mingled and coalesced into this complex 'thing' we are now discussing. So, let me pull a few out, identify and address them.

We said earlier that physical attributes could not constitute "talent" because they are merely "there". (This came about during the discussion on "vocal chords".) When I said that we are not born able to do much of anything, I am clearly discussing "skills" as opposed to "height/hand size fifteen years from then". So, your entire physicality argument is really limited to something I didn't actually say, and which we had originally ruled out. wink

Now, if we would like to go back to that discussion, I raised a proposition earlier that, based on this line of thinking, someone born with a Steinway had more "talent" than someone born with a Pleyel. That idea makes no sense to me, so I discarded it (and I think that everyone else did, too). Let us extrapolate that into other endeavors:

Someone who is 7' tall certainly has a propensity for dunking a ball, and perhaps guarding someone shorter, but that says nothing of their eventual skill at playing the game of basketball.

Someone who can reach a 15th has massive hands, but this says nothing about their eventual skill at playing the piano.

Someone who is taller is more likely to see over a crowd, right? What if they're blind? wink

So, you see how I have difficulty saying that a physical attribute could be considered a definition of "talent"? I probably wouldn't put much weight behind "potential" either, using the word that you used, because of the examples above and many others.

Quote:
You concede that they had to work 10x harder. So their potential was smaller; but they overcame it and turned the potential they had into a skill.

This, I did concede, but I would not say their potential was smaller. In physics, potential refers to what a thing 'could' do if its energy were transformed to kinetic. So, a rock sitting on a hill could roll to the bottom. And the measure of kinetic energy in that process is "stored" as potential energy. Well, if someone works 10x harder, but still gets there, then their "potential" was obviously the same. It took more effort to turn the potential energy into kinetic energy, sure, but if they had less potential, they would not have achieved the same results. wink

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
Again, this is more on the pedagogical/neuroscience side but there's some really interesting research on what people believe is responsible for their success and how it impacts achievement. There was a very popular article on the New York Times, which I wish I could find and can't.

Based on your post, I believe this is the article you mean: http://nymag.com/news/features/27840/

If so, then I read it, too. wink It was a person-vs-process (praise) article based on Carol Dweck's research on motivation, specifically on why people succeed and how to foster success.
Posted by: patH

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/22/13 05:34 PM

I guess the problem in our discussion is with the definitions of talent, potential or aptitude.
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Well, if someone works 10x harder, but still gets there, then their "potential" was obviously the same. It took more effort to turn the potential energy into kinetic energy, sure, but if they had less potential, they would not have achieved the same results.
Maybe the potential was the same; but if one person needs less effort to achieve the result, then the "innate aptitude" or whatever we want to call it is higher.

But at least we agree that a good way to achieve success is to work hard and play to your strengths.
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/22/13 08:40 PM

Originally Posted By: patH
I guess the problem in our discussion is with the definitions of talent, potential or aptitude.
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Well, if someone works 10x harder, but still gets there, then their "potential" was obviously the same. It took more effort to turn the potential energy into kinetic energy, sure, but if they had less potential, they would not have achieved the same results.
Maybe the potential was the same; but if one person needs less effort to achieve the result, then the "innate aptitude" or whatever we want to call it is higher.

But at least we agree that a good way to achieve success is to work hard and play to your strengths.


It is deceptive to say the potential is the same if the end result is the same, regardless of effort used to get there, because the amount of effort required affects the overall capacity of the person. For example, the less effort required, the more music the pianist can absorb, and that is often one characteristic of very talented young pianists - they can plow through a lot of music very quickly. And the more music they can absorb, the more cumulative knowledge about the art they will acquire.

I have to say that it strikes me as funny that the talent-deniers seem to believe in an undefined and complex mix of factors that result in a person who has what the rest of us call "talent", and the evidence for that rare mix is just as unquantified as is the evidence for the existence of talent. Exactly why the genetic makeup of a person (i.e., their innate characteristics) must be excluded from that mix is not clear to me.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/22/13 09:24 PM

Originally Posted By: patH
I guess the problem in our discussion is with the definitions of talent, potential or aptitude.
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Well, if someone works 10x harder, but still gets there, then their "potential" was obviously the same. It took more effort to turn the potential energy into kinetic energy, sure, but if they had less potential, they would not have achieved the same results.
Maybe the potential was the same; but if one person needs less effort to achieve the result, then the "innate aptitude" or whatever we want to call it is higher.

But at least we agree that a good way to achieve success is to work hard and play to your strengths.

I'm not sure if we take issue with the definition of those things, or the reason people have them. (Actually, as I type that, I realize you're right: it probably is a definition issue.)

On one side, it seems people believe that some individuals are born with this "gift" that allows them to succeed at whatever they do (in this case, piano).

On the other side, it seems people believe that their development and growth has led them to the place they are at, and if this development was fostered in such a way that it leads to facilitated pianistic growth, then it is a product of their life's experience rather than an innate gift.

I fall into the latter category (which, I think, is evident by my posts). It's not that I don't recognize people are born with slightly different genes; it's more so that I recognize that people are able to get where they want to go regardless of genetic makeup. (And that, to me, is the only place where "talent" might be proved to exist.)

I think the last discussion about "potential" was a great subset of the thread: it allowed me to express some of my thoughts about "potential" in a way that I had not been able to previously express.

So, now that we might agree the "potential" is the same, now we still must address the differences that cause some people to learn faster than others.

To me, it seems that the reason people learn faster is because they learned how to learn before/better than someone who learns at a slower pace. (Kind of like the idea of least resistance--those who learn more quickly have found that path of least resistance, while those who learn slower are on a parallel, albeit, resistive path.) Is there any potential for agreement on this idea? smile

Originally Posted By: wr
It is deceptive to say the potential is the same if the end result is the same, regardless of effort used to get there, because the amount of effort required affects the overall capacity of the person. For example, the less effort required, the more music the pianist can absorb, and that is often one characteristic of very talented young pianists - they can plow through a lot of music very quickly. And the more music they can absorb, the more cumulative knowledge about the art they will acquire.

I think this is a very important idea to clear up. Thank you for bringing it to light. I highlighted part of your quote in bold, and I would ask of this conclusion: does it? Or does it simply affect how much time it takes to reach the same capacity? I use as evidence the part highlighted in italics.

There is, of course, no denying the part that is underlined. I think we can all agree on that. My above comments merely address a timing issue, and not a quantitative one. I just wanted to point that out. smile

Quote:
Exactly why the genetic makeup of a person (i.e., their innate characteristics) must be excluded from that mix is not clear to me.

We did not entirely exclude it. What we said was that, if your genetic makeup prevents you from being able to reach the potential of a concert pianist, that you have a handicap akin to missing a hand. The idea there was to prevent exclusion based on physical characteristics, since we already determined that "talent" does not reside within the realm of those "physical characteristics".

If you disagree with this conclusion, I (for one) would be very interested in hearing your arguments. smile
Posted by: sophial

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/22/13 11:37 PM

Derulux,
You are "determining" conclusions here based on your own presuppositions (ie. that talent is independent of any physical characteristics or genetic endowments other than a disability so severe as to make the performance impossible or close to it) and then assuming that the issue is settled. Your argument is circular: by excluding everything other than learned or acquired skill as a factor in performance, you then argue that performance can only be based on acquired skill! It's a tautology. Sorry, I don't buy it.

I presented my arguments already. I'm not convinced by yours and I don't expect you are by mine either. We'll have to agree to disagree.

Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 12:19 AM

Originally Posted By: sophial
Derulux,
You are "determining" conclusions here based on your own presuppositions (ie. that talent is independent of any physical characteristics or genetic endowments other than a disability so severe as to make the performance impossible or close to it) and then assuming that the issue is settled. Your argument is circular: by excluding everything other than learned or acquired skill as a factor in performance, you then argue that performance can only be based on acquired skill! It's a tautology. Sorry, I don't buy it.

I presented my arguments already. I'm not convinced by yours and I don't expect you are by mine either. We'll have to agree to disagree.


The conclusions I draw are based on conversation. Since no one has refuted the point, or in other cases, accepted the premises, I thought the matter settled. By all means, feel free to provide evidence to the contrary. I'm as happy to entertain logical thoughts as scientific evidence. What I'm afraid I won't entertain is emotion-driven belief. There's no argument against it. "It's what I believe, and that's that." I'm perfectly okay with someone believing in what they believe, but I'm equally okay disagreeing with them when I don't believe the same thing. smile
Posted by: King Cole

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 03:00 AM

Wow this thing is still going on. Right when I was going to start another thread on an interesting topic I've been thinking about... Derelux seems to be taking on all comers. I would say he won the "talent" debate. No one certainly was able to beat my points especially Hakki, Polyphonist and the boys. Indeed better men have tried and failed but this person puts the nail in the coffin... Can we all be Mozarts?
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 03:16 AM

Originally Posted By: King Cole
Wow this thing is still going on. Right when I was going to start another thread on an interesting topic I've been thinking about... Derelux seems to be taking on all comers. I would say he won the "talent" debate. No one certainly was able to beat my points especially Hakki, Polyphonist and the boys. Indeed better men have tried and failed but this person puts the nail in the coffin... Can we all be Mozarts?


lol
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 04:06 AM

Originally Posted By: King Cole
Wow this thing is still going on. Right when I was going to start another thread on an interesting topic I've been thinking about... Derelux seems to be taking on all comers. I would say he won the "talent" debate. No one certainly was able to beat my points especially Hakki, Polyphonist and the boys. Indeed better men have tried and failed but this person puts the nail in the coffin... Can we all be Mozarts?

LOL I doubt that very much, but I'm certainly up for the discussion. smile

Nice article. I absolutely love this line: "...the intuitive teaching methods that became almost universally accepted hindered technical development...."

Couldn't agree more.
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 07:30 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux

Originally Posted By: wr
It is deceptive to say the potential is the same if the end result is the same, regardless of effort used to get there, because the amount of effort required affects the overall capacity of the person. For example, the less effort required, the more music the pianist can absorb, and that is often one characteristic of very talented young pianists - they can plow through a lot of music very quickly. And the more music they can absorb, the more cumulative knowledge about the art they will acquire.

I think this is a very important idea to clear up. Thank you for bringing it to light. I highlighted part of your quote in bold, and I would ask of this conclusion: does it? Or does it simply affect how much time it takes to reach the same capacity? I use as evidence the part highlighted in italics.

There is, of course, no denying the part that is underlined. I think we can all agree on that. My above comments merely address a timing issue, and not a quantitative one. I just wanted to point that out. smile



I really shouldn't have to explain this...

If we were all immortal, it wouldn't make any difference, because time limits would be irrelevant. But since we aren't, it does.

And taking it a bit further, as a subset of our lifespan, the years in which we are young are also limited, and those are the years in which we can learn things at very rapid rates relative to how fast we learn later in life. So the amount of time it takes to learn matters the most when we are learning the most, when we are young.

If it takes pianist A two years to learn a particular Beethoven sonata starting when they are twelve, and it takes pianist B two weeks to learn the same sonata at the same age, the potential capacity of pianist B can be extrapolated to be much greater than that of pianist A. Neither pianist has an eternity in which to accomplish whatever they are going to accomplish.

Quote:
Quote:
Exactly why the genetic makeup of a person (i.e., their innate characteristics) must be excluded from that mix is not clear to me.

We did not entirely exclude it. What we said was that, if your genetic makeup prevents you from being able to reach the potential of a concert pianist, that you have a handicap akin to missing a hand. The idea there was to prevent exclusion based on physical characteristics, since we already determined that "talent" does not reside within the realm of those "physical characteristics".

If you disagree with this conclusion, I (for one) would be very interested in hearing your arguments. smile

"We"?

At any rate, I don't remember anything like what you describe, and I am not going to reread the entire thread trying figure out what it is you might be alluding to. Whatever it is, it seems to be couched in purely negative terms, as if there cannot be any genetic advantages, but only disadvantages.

Since I don't know what you are talking about, I can only guess about its nature, but based on that guess, I will point out that genetic influence can be quite subtle. The field is still in its infancy, as far as what genome sequencing reveals. I had mine sequenced (just the SNPs, actually), and was surprised that studies revealed various things about me that I never would have previously thought of as being "physical" at all.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 12:51 PM

Originally Posted By: wr
I really shouldn't have to explain this...

If we were all immortal, it wouldn't make any difference, because time limits would be irrelevant. But since we aren't, it does.

And taking it a bit further, as a subset of our lifespan, the years in which we are young are also limited, and those are the years in which we can learn things at very rapid rates relative to how fast we learn later in life. So the amount of time it takes to learn matters the most when we are learning the most, when we are young.

If it takes pianist A two years to learn a particular Beethoven sonata starting when they are twelve, and it takes pianist B two weeks to learn the same sonata at the same age, the potential capacity of pianist B can be extrapolated to be much greater than that of pianist A. Neither pianist has an eternity in which to accomplish whatever they are going to accomplish.

You are taking into account things which have been proven to be wrong. Adults learn very differently from children (for the most part), but they certainly don't learn slower. Here's one great article on the cognitive differences between adults and children:

http://www.exploreadultlearning.co.uk/cognitive-differences-adults-children-learning.html

Here is another from FSU: http://www.fsu.edu/~adult-ed/jenny/learning.html. Read, especially, the paragraph on "Intelligence and Aging." This sentence in particular: "It has been difficult for educators and researchers alike to give up the stereotype that young equals sharp and older means dull."

The biggest problem for adult learners is this one: "The greatest problems with memory for older learners occur with meaningless learning, complex learning, and the learning of new things that require reassessment of old learning. (1991)"

For most adults, they've either learned incorrect piano technique, improper practice routines, or both. Going back and fixing it as an adult requires a reassessment of learning, which is extraordinarily difficult the older we get. However, the ability to learn is still there in spades--unless, of course, you're taking the hypothetical situation of an adult who has never heard music. In that case, you do have a very strong argument. But I don't know a single adult who has never heard music.

Here's an article from eHow about the differences between pedagogy and andragogy: http://www.ehow.com/about_6368845_children-vs_-adult-learning.html. I think this is critical to your assumption that children learn faster. In the realm of teaching piano, most instructors only know one way: pedagogy. The teacher says, and the student does. But for adults, this approach doesn't work. Perhaps that is why so many believe the old paradigm to be true--when, in fact, it is the teacher's failures at understanding adult learning that cause the problem. wink

Quote:
At any rate, I don't remember anything like what you describe, and I am not going to reread the entire thread trying figure out what it is you might be alluding to. Whatever it is, it seems to be couched in purely negative terms, as if there cannot be any genetic advantages, but only disadvantages.

You don't have to. I did provide an executive summary immediately subsequent to the sentence you must have read.

Quote:
Since I don't know what you are talking about

This much, my friend, is quite obvious. And what I mean to say by that, is that it is clear you read for the sake of refuting, rather than for the sake of understanding. wink

Quote:
The field is still in its infancy, as far as what genome sequencing reveals. I had mine sequenced (just the SNPs, actually)

I would actually like to do this when I can afford it. I am very interested in what the results would reveal. There was a great article I read about two years ago on the subject of genetic disorders and the reliability of genetic testing that turned me on to getting "tested". It was a hard copy article I don't have anymore, and I can't remember the name of the author. If I do remember, and you're interested, I'll shoot it over. (Might have been Reader's Digest, but I'm leaning towards one of the scientific journals I read regularly.)

There are many scientists now saying we'll have the entire genome mapped in the next 15-20 years. Wonder what we'll do then...
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 12:58 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
You are taking into account things which have been proven to be wrong. Adults learn very differently from children (for the most part), but they certainly don't learn slower....

Adults most definitely learn certain kinds of things slower and/or much less well and/or almost not at all.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 01:09 PM

Derulux, what do you think causes different tastes, interests and personalities?
Posted by: Old Man

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 01:43 PM

Originally Posted By: wr

If it takes pianist A two years to learn a particular Beethoven sonata starting when they are twelve, and it takes pianist B two weeks to learn the same sonata at the same age, the potential capacity of pianist B can be extrapolated to be much greater than that of pianist A. Neither pianist has an eternity in which to accomplish whatever they are going to accomplish.

Absolutely, wr. Which is why I keep beating on the same drum about children who start lessons at 5 and are able to play very advanced pieces, and give public recitals by 8 or 9. As you said, we are all limited by time. And no child could accomplish such a feat within a few short years, or, to use your example, learn a Beethoven sonata in two weeks simply by "working really hard". After all, children do have other obligations: school, homework, and most important, play. So even if an average child spent 24 hours a day practicing, he or she could never achieve what these prodigies do. And I doubt these prodigies are spending inordinate amounts of time on piano (unless they choose to, or are being abused by their parents.)

I would ask my friend, Derulux, how do you account for savants? These people are developmentally disabled, yet have a prodigious talent within a narrow sphere. Would you deny that their talent is "natural", "innate", "<insert word of your choice>", and would you continue to insist that their aptitude was still somehow (mysteriously) acquired? If you accept that there are savants, why can't you move a bit farther down the spectrum, into what might be termed the "normal" area, and admit that there are prodigies; people who are developmentally normal, yet have an extraordinary facility in music, chess, mathematics, etc.? You act as though there is no evidence of these natural gifts, yet there are plenty of examples. I don't understand how you can cling to your position, even with ample opposing evidence staring you in the face. confused
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 02:44 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Derulux
You are taking into account things which have been proven to be wrong. Adults learn very differently from children (for the most part), but they certainly don't learn slower....

Adults most definitely learn certain kinds of things slower and/or much less well and/or almost not at all.

I won't go back and forth. I'll just point to the studies. Most of what has been proven so far (at least that I have read) has to do with the way the information is presented, not the subject/"thing" itself. smile

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Derulux, what do you think causes different tastes, interests and personalities?

I think this might be an interesting thread to create.. I don't want to completely change topics, so if you have a cyclical nature in mind behind the question, let me know what angle you're taking and I can draw it full circle from my perspective.

Preliminarily, I do think a lot of it has to do with what you're exposed to. I think it is difficult to find interest in something you've never been exposed to.

Originally Posted By: Old Man
I would ask my friend, Derulux, how do you account for savants? These people are developmentally disabled, yet have a prodigious talent within a narrow sphere. Would you deny that their talent is "natural", "innate", "<insert word of your choice>", and would you continue to insist that their aptitude was still somehow (mysteriously) acquired? If you accept that there are savants, why can't you move a bit farther down the spectrum, into what might be termed the "normal" area, and admit that there are prodigies; people who are developmentally normal, yet have an extraordinary facility in music, chess, mathematics, etc.? You act as though there is no evidence of these natural gifts, yet there are plenty of examples. I don't understand how you can cling to your position, even with ample opposing evidence staring you in the face.

I've been wondering about that myself, through the entire course of the discussion, even though it wasn't specifically brought up. My ideas are still formulating, so this discussion may be more developmental than preconceived.

More than a decade ago, I had an idea that "disabilities" were, largely, a sign of a particular genius in an adjacent area. It was a similar idea to weightlifting: if you lift your biceps until they are massive, but never touch your triceps, you will develop an issue of balance that will lead to injury. When the muscle snaps, it never rebuilds in quite the same way. I thought of the brain like that--that people were showing signs of over-development in one area, but not its opposite, and, eventually, the brain "snapped" so-to-speak. I started writing a book on the topic, but it's sitting on a shelf somewhere, as yet unfinished. The research I did was very intriguing, but much of it is no longer readily available to my memory recall.

Why these people over-develop so quickly in one area escapes every study done on them (or at least, the ones I found and read). It seems to me that they learn how to learn that particular subject very quickly, and take an unnatural interest (borderline obsession) in it, which helps to fuel their motivation.

I met a man, quite recently (February, I think), who was Asperger's. He knew nearly everything about classic cars going back to 1900, but though the facts were there, he was clearly missing the ability to extrapolate ideas based on the information. He couldn't understand why those cars weren't in production today, and why we didn't see them on the road anymore, because they were "great cars". His fixation was impressive, really, but I got the sense that that was all he knew.

If someone were able to teach this person how to learn other subjects, or were able to instill a sense of interest in another subject, would he be capable of learning it, and would he actually take the time to learn it? I don't know the answer to that (I'm not sure that anyone "knows" the answer), but I do believe the answer would be yes.

I'm not sure if that example is on par with what you mean, so I'll use another one. Temple Grandin. She's high-functioning autistic. Through her life experiences, Dr. Grandin saw the world a little differently, and through that difference, was able to create a device called a "hug box" in order to calm autistic children. How did she invent it? She grew up around cows, saw that the cows were calmed when in a similar device, and one day, went into it herself. It apparently calmed her, and she thought others would be able to be calmed in a similar manner. (She has since gone on to other major successes.)

So, I believe a lot of it is in that distinct ability to "see things differently" than everyone else. Why does this ability develop? A product of experiences, an ability or disability in certain areas, a sum of exposure, interest, motivation, dedication, questions that pop up in the mind.. there are a million possible reasons. Picasso certainly "saw things differently."

Is this difference what you might consider "talent"? If so, I'm not convinced, but this is a new direction we haven't previously taken the discussion, and I'd be interested to follow it.. smile
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 03:22 PM

Quote:
I think this might be an interesting thread to create.. I don't want to completely change topics, so if you have a cyclical nature in mind behind the question, let me know what angle you're taking and I can draw it full circle from my perspective.


It's not a topic change, because these things are, like talent, dependent on the individual's brain.


Quote:
Preliminarily, I do think a lot of it has to do with what you're exposed to. I think it is difficult to find interest in something you've never been exposed to.


True, it is impossible to be interested in something you've never been exposed to. Someone with the talent to become a great musician will never be a musician at all if music wasn't exposed to them.

BUT...

There's a difference between being exposed to a potential interest and actually taking on that interest once exposed to it. Not everyone who is exposed to books will love reading.

There's a difference between being brought up the way Mozart was and actually becoming a Mozart-level musician once brought up that way. You see?
Posted by: mermilylumpkin

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 03:27 PM

It would be interesting to extend the more-time-to-learn-something-means-you're-less-naturally-gifted argument to actual virtuosos. Horowitz claimed ("claimed" being the operative word) to have practiced around an hour a day, whereas Claudio Arrau and Richter and others claimed to have practiced ten or fourteen hours a day at intensive points in their careers and several hours per day as the standard. We could take a very conservative estimate and say Richter practiced ~4 hours a day on average and compared to Horowitz's professed 1 hour. I imagine you can see where I'm going with this -- You could argue that Richter is rather a slow learner by this measure. If Horowitz practiced, say, 30,000 hours over his lifetime, it took Richter a shabby 120,000 hours to do the same. Anyway, however fast learners they were we don't compare the greatness of virtuosos based on "the time it took them." We end up more concerned with the practical consequences of whether their version of the Mephisto waltz was dazzling and wonderful.

Re: savants, there was another NYT article about child prodigies in math/music (sorry to keep bringing the New York Times into it). Child prodigies were studied across these multiple domains and it was found that in music, the children had IQs around the average; but one of the standout traits cognitively was that around 40% of them were on the autism/Asperger's spectrum. Children with autism frequently take a fanatical interest in a particular category of knowledge (e.g. how washing machines work, the Titanic, music) and acquire uncommon expertise in their obsession. But to me, when a seven year old child regales me with some obscure professorial information about the Titanic, I would attribute it to the fact that they were obsessed with the Titanic and read encyclopedia articles about it and watched PBS shows about it, rather than attributing it to the child's innate capacity to accumulate Titanic related facts. The fact is, it's not normal for a tiny child to feel like practicing the piano or violin for 5 hours a day during the early childhood period where muscle memory, etc. is being established. Most parents can't entice their toddler to quit throwing their toy off the edge of the high chair, much less to sit at the piano for long periods of time and learn a complex instrument and be engaged with it. To me it's fairly unsurprising that a child with a genetic pre-disposition toward excessive interest would acquire a skill like music exponentially faster than a typical child.

Here's a scenario you never hear:
"My 3 year old son spends hours and hours at the piano. He is fascinated with music and I just can't get him away. It's all he wants to do. I just can't break it to him that he simply doesn't have any natural talent for it. He tries and tries and can never learn Lightly Row."
Posted by: mermilylumpkin

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 03:41 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux

So, I believe a lot of it is in that distinct ability to "see things differently" than everyone else. Why does this ability develop? A product of experiences, an ability or disability in certain areas, a sum of exposure, interest, motivation, dedication, questions that pop up in the mind.. there are a million possible reasons. Picasso certainly "saw things differently."


I believe this is so much infinitely more important to creating art than your genetic raw material. For me, what makes Glenn Gould great is the choices he makes musically, to emphasize a particular note, or bring out a melody that was hidden in the music, or produce a stirring emotional effect that I hadn't encountered before in that music. The childhood wizardry stuff is great for him and everything, but it's not the place wherein the art lies, or the virtuosity for that matter (to me).
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 03:50 PM

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
It would be interesting to extend the more-time-to-learn-something-means-you're-less-naturally-gifted argument to actual virtuosos. Horowitz claimed ("claimed" being the operative word) to have practiced around an hour a day, whereas Claudio Arrau and Richter and others claimed to have practiced ten or fourteen hours a day at intensive points in their careers and several hours per day as the standard. We could take a very conservative estimate and say Richter practiced ~4 hours a day on average and compared to Horowitz's professed 1 hour. I imagine you can see where I'm going with this -- You could argue that Richter is rather a slow learner by this measure. If Horowitz practiced, say, 30,000 hours over his lifetime, it took Richter a shabby 120,000 hours to do the same. But we don't compare the greatness of virtuosos based on "the time it took them." We end up more concerned with the practical consequences of whether their version of the Mephisto waltz was dazzling and wonderful.
I think Horowitz was talking about much later in his career when he played infrequently and tended to play certain works repeatedly. In addition, Richter had one of the largest performing repertoires of any pianist ever, so that requires more time to learn than a smaller repertoire. So I think the comparison with number of hours is extremely flawed.

I think that's important is that both of them could starting from a very young age age probably learn pieces far more quickly than most people, even most professionals at a similar age.
Posted by: cefinow

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 04:44 PM

I believe in the existence of prodigious and inexplicable gifts, not attainable if you’re not born with them. Yet, when it comes to a practical outlook on one’s own life and working with what each person has, the “gifted/ungifted” notion is mostly useless.

Anyway, the love of music is an extraordinary gift in itself—who knows why we love music? Where did it come from? Why do we find it intriguing and enchanting? – and so I don’t begrudge the hours of hard work and practice at all; I love music, I love working hard at it. Maybe it’s even more interesting to figure it out bit by bit, than to have it all handed over on a silver platter of instinctive brilliance.

What I find surprising now, is that the more I understand about music, the more I am able to understand. Innate capacity, whether prodigious or not, may not be a fixed quality.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 04:51 PM

Originally Posted By: cefinow
When it comes to a practical outlook on one’s own life and working with what each person has, the “gifted/ungifted” notion is mostly useless.


Depends on what your goals are.
Posted by: cefinow

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 04:53 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: cefinow
When it comes to a practical outlook on one’s own life and working with what each person has, the “gifted/ungifted” notion is mostly useless.


Depends on what your goals are.


Notice I said, working with what you have. That should be a realistic guide for setting your goals.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 04:57 PM

Originally Posted By: cefinow
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: cefinow
When it comes to a practical outlook on one’s own life and working with what each person has, the “gifted/ungifted” notion is mostly useless.


Depends on what your goals are.


Notice I said, working with what you have. That should be a realistic guide for setting your goals.


Yeah, but often it isn't. Some people who lack the potential to become masters still might aspire greatly to be one, yet they never will. When it comes to the "gifted/ungifted" notion, it does matter IF their goals past their potential.
Posted by: cefinow

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 05:00 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: cefinow
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: cefinow
When it comes to a practical outlook on one’s own life and working with what each person has, the “gifted/ungifted” notion is mostly useless.


Depends on what your goals are.


Notice I said, working with what you have. That should be a realistic guide for setting your goals.


Yeah, but often it isn't. Some people who lack the potential to become masters still might aspire greatly to be one, yet they never will. When it comes to the "gifted/ungifted" notion, it does matter IF their goals past their potential.


And... that's exactly why I said "a practical outlook."
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 05:05 PM

Originally Posted By: cefinow
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: cefinow
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: cefinow
When it comes to a practical outlook on one’s own life and working with what each person has, the “gifted/ungifted” notion is mostly useless.


Depends on what your goals are.


Notice I said, working with what you have. That should be a realistic guide for setting your goals.


Yeah, but often it isn't. Some people who lack the potential to become masters still might aspire greatly to be one, yet they never will. When it comes to the "gifted/ungifted" notion, it does matter IF their goals past their potential.


And... that's exactly why I said "a practical outlook."


What do you mean by "practical"?
Posted by: cefinow

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 05:15 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: cefinow
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: cefinow
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: cefinow
When it comes to a practical outlook on one’s own life and working with what each person has, the “gifted/ungifted” notion is mostly useless.


Depends on what your goals are.


Notice I said, working with what you have. That should be a realistic guide for setting your goals.


Yeah, but often it isn't. Some people who lack the potential to become masters still might aspire greatly to be one, yet they never will. When it comes to the "gifted/ungifted" notion, it does matter IF their goals past their potential.


And... that's exactly why I said "a practical outlook."


Define practical.


Oh now surely, you know what "practical" means.

In the case you talk about above, practical could mean "not delusional"... e.g. forgetting about being the next Horowitz, but putting one's efforts into developing a good basic technique, competent musical skills etc. It would also be a cure for discouragement, as you'd be too busy working to worry about your lost fame and glory.

Or, if the person *did* have maestro quality, practical could mean seeking out and sticking with a plan to develop that potential. Not resting on one's laurels, not getting a fat ego, etc., making an effort to reach out and share one's gift with the world.

In either case, hard work and a *practical outlook* would maximize the person's potential. That goes back to the OP's original question. Although he was probably referring to more *practical* concerns like Hanon and practice methods wink
Originally Posted By: King Cole
What is the best way to maximize one's piano abilities?!?
Posted by: Old Man

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 05:36 PM

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
It would be interesting to extend the more-time-to-learn-something-means-you're-less-naturally-gifted argument to actual virtuosos. Horowitz claimed ("claimed" being the operative word) to have practiced around an hour a day, whereas Claudio Arrau and Richter and others claimed to have practiced ten or fourteen hours a day at intensive points in their careers and several hours per day as the standard. We could take a very conservative estimate and say Richter practiced ~4 hours a day on average and compared to Horowitz's professed 1 hour. I imagine you can see where I'm going with this -- You could argue that Richter is rather a slow learner by this measure. If Horowitz practiced, say, 30,000 hours over his lifetime, it took Richter a shabby 120,000 hours to do the same. Anyway, however fast learners they were we don't compare the greatness of virtuosos based on "the time it took them." We end up more concerned with the practical consequences of whether their version of the Mephisto waltz was dazzling and wonderful.

I agree that we, the listening audience, couldn't care less about how many hours of practice they need. We care about the beauty of the music that flows from them.

I think you raise an interesting topic, but I think the people you mention still fall within a very narrow range of the pianistic spectrum. Yes, some may need to practice more than others, but I still maintain that all of them fall within a very elite group of people I would call "prodigies". IMO, anyone who becomes an internationally known and well-respected pianist is, by definition, a "prodigy", and was born with exceptional and extraordinary ... oh boy, I hate to use the word... sorry Derulux ... t*l*nt. I would submit that even poor Alexander Brailowsky, who did require long hours of practice, was still a prodigy. He may have been at the opposite end of the "prodigy spectrum" from Horowitz, but he had an innate musical ability that could not be explained by environment alone.

One cannot become a prodigy. Either you are or you aren't. If you are, AND you have the required dedication, training, nurturing etc., you have a chance of becoming a famous pianist. If you aren't, you can still become a pretty-good pianist, a very-good pianist, or even an excellent pianist, but I think it's impossible that you will ever become a great pianist.

And like you, Derulux, I'm finding much of my own thinking to be evolving on this subject. Near the beginning of this discussion I believed that no one past a certain age could ever hope to become a virtuoso, because prodigies, by definition, are presumed to be very young. But what if a child is truly a prodigy (born with innate musical gifts), but never sees a piano until the age of 20? I think that if this 20-year old prodigy-in-waiting began his musical training alongside a 20-year old of "average" talent, the difference in the rate of progress would still be dramatic. He may never wear the mantle of "great", but I suspect that his innate ability would come to the fore, and that it would be quickly recognized. And not only would it be readily observable, but measurable as well. (I'm trying to ingratiate myself to Derulux the Physicist grin ).
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 05:38 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Quote:
I think this might be an interesting thread to create.. I don't want to completely change topics, so if you have a cyclical nature in mind behind the question, let me know what angle you're taking and I can draw it full circle from my perspective.


It's not a topic change, because these things are, like talent, dependent on the individual's brain.


Quote:
Preliminarily, I do think a lot of it has to do with what you're exposed to. I think it is difficult to find interest in something you've never been exposed to.


True, it is impossible to be interested in something you've never been exposed to. Someone with the talent to become a great musician will never be a musician at all if music wasn't exposed to them.

BUT...

There's a difference between being exposed to a potential interest and actually taking on that interest once exposed to it. Not everyone who is exposed to books will love reading.

There's a difference between being brought up the way Mozart was and actually becoming a Mozart-level musician once brought up that way. You see?

Absolutely. Agree 100%. As for what causes those differences, I think personality plays a big part. I'm not sure genetics is as big a factor in this area, because I believe twin studies have shown genetically identical kids, brought up in the same environment, to have differing interests. What do you think is this cause?

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
It would be interesting to extend the more-time-to-learn-something-means-you're-less-naturally-gifted argument to actual virtuosos. Horowitz claimed ("claimed" being the operative word) to have practiced around an hour a day, whereas Claudio Arrau and Richter and others claimed to have practiced ten or fourteen hours a day at intensive points in their careers and several hours per day as the standard. We could take a very conservative estimate and say Richter practiced ~4 hours a day on average and compared to Horowitz's professed 1 hour. I imagine you can see where I'm going with this -- You could argue that Richter is rather a slow learner by this measure. If Horowitz practiced, say, 30,000 hours over his lifetime, it took Richter a shabby 120,000 hours to do the same. Anyway, however fast learners they were we don't compare the greatness of virtuosos based on "the time it took them." We end up more concerned with the practical consequences of whether their version of the Mephisto waltz was dazzling and wonderful.

I think this bears repeating. And add in Rachmaninoff, who supposedly practiced painfully slow and for many hours.

I think your last sentence has largely been the point of this entire discourse: people determine "talent" based on the results. Talent is defined as some mystical "innate" ability. Then, the measure of talent is how well that person does that thing. If the person does it well, they have talent. If they do not, they didn't have talent. To me, basing something on the thing itself is circular logic. It's supporting a premise with a premise, rather than a conclusion.

Your other example is outstanding, concerning the autistic children. You certainly said it better than I did... and I don't think the NYT will mind that you did so. haha smile

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think Horowitz was talking about much later in his career when he played infrequently and tended to play certain works repeatedly. In addition, Richter had one of the largest performing repertoires of any pianist ever, so that requires more time to learn than a smaller repertoire. So I think the comparison with number of hours is extremely flawed.

I think that's important is that both of them could starting from a very young age age probably learn pieces far more quickly than most people, even most professionals at a similar age.

So, perhaps the numbers are slightly different. I think mermily addressed that in the post. But rather than focus on details, let's focus on the idea behind it, which is sound: if one virtuoso practices more than another, does that mean the other has more "talent"? In other words, if Richter did, indeed, practice more than Horowitz, does that mean Horowitz was more "talented"? In other words, is it process or result that defines "talent"?
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 06:17 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think Horowitz was talking about much later in his career when he played infrequently and tended to play certain works repeatedly. In addition, Richter had one of the largest performing repertoires of any pianist ever, so that requires more time to learn than a smaller repertoire. So I think the comparison with number of hours is extremely flawed.

I think that's important is that both of them could starting from a very young age age probably learn pieces far more quickly than most people, even most professionals at a similar age.

So, perhaps the numbers are slightly different. I think mermily addressed that in the post. But rather than focus on details, let's focus on the idea behind it, which is sound: if one virtuoso practices more than another, does that mean the other has more "talent"? In other words, if Richter did, indeed, practice more than Horowitz, does that mean Horowitz was more "talented"?
Of course not.
I gave two major reasons in my post why any comparison of Richter's hours vs. Horowitz's hours(if, in fact, his statement was true or just an exaggeration to impress) was basically meaningless for the purposes of this thread.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 06:29 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
I think this bears repeating. And add in Rachmaninoff, who supposedly practiced painfully slow and for many hours.
Practicing "painfully slowly" has nothing to any lack of skill or talent or anything else. It's a basic technique used by a significant percentage of professional pianists. This is yet another example of you trying to fit facts to your ideas.

As far as the number of hours Rachmaninov practiced, if he did practice more than most(I have never read anything about this in several biographies)it could have easily been due to his perfectionism or some other reason not related to his ability to learn works quickly.

In fact, it is well known that he could learn works with incredible speed. One little story to illustrate this. He was planning to give an all Scriabin recital and realized the day before that he needed 10 more minutes of music. A teacher or friend suggested the Scriabin Fantasy and he learned it in one day.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 08:01 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think Horowitz was talking about much later in his career when he played infrequently and tended to play certain works repeatedly. In addition, Richter had one of the largest performing repertoires of any pianist ever, so that requires more time to learn than a smaller repertoire. So I think the comparison with number of hours is extremely flawed.

I think that's important is that both of them could starting from a very young age age probably learn pieces far more quickly than most people, even most professionals at a similar age.

So, perhaps the numbers are slightly different. I think mermily addressed that in the post. But rather than focus on details, let's focus on the idea behind it, which is sound: if one virtuoso practices more than another, does that mean the other has more "talent"? In other words, if Richter did, indeed, practice more than Horowitz, does that mean Horowitz was more "talented"?
Of course not.
I gave two major reasons in my post why any comparison of Richter's hours vs. Horowitz's hours(if, in fact, his statement was true or just an exaggeration to impress) was basically meaningless for the purposes of this thread.

Then, I suppose I am at a completely loss in trying to figure out what you mean by "talent". It is not a physical endowment. It is not a question of time. It is not a question of ability (since you believe that this thing is "innate", which means "existing before ability was learned"). It is not potential, since the "potential" for anyone is, in fact, the same; that is, we are describing reaching the virtuoso level, which is static. It is not in the amount of practice time it takes for one pianist to be equal to another. So far, it would seem that this "talent" thing exists nowhere, and is certainly not quantifiable. What can we say by that? Where, exactly, does it exist?
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 08:06 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think Horowitz was talking about much later in his career when he played infrequently and tended to play certain works repeatedly. In addition, Richter had one of the largest performing repertoires of any pianist ever, so that requires more time to learn than a smaller repertoire. So I think the comparison with number of hours is extremely flawed.

I think that's important is that both of them could starting from a very young age age probably learn pieces far more quickly than most people, even most professionals at a similar age.

So, perhaps the numbers are slightly different. I think mermily addressed that in the post. But rather than focus on details, let's focus on the idea behind it, which is sound: if one virtuoso practices more than another, does that mean the other has more "talent"? In other words, if Richter did, indeed, practice more than Horowitz, does that mean Horowitz was more "talented"?
Of course not.
I gave two major reasons in my post why any comparison of Richter's hours vs. Horowitz's hours(if, in fact, his statement was true or just an exaggeration to impress) was basically meaningless for the purposes of this thread.

Then, I suppose I am at a completely loss in trying to figure out what you mean by "talent". It is not a physical endowment. It is not a question of time. It is not a question of ability (since you believe that this thing is "innate", which means "existing before ability was learned"). It is not potential, since the "potential" for anyone is, in fact, the same; that is, we are describing reaching the virtuoso level, which is static. It is not in the amount of practice time it takes for one pianist to be equal to another. So far, it would seem that this "talent" thing exists nowhere, and is certainly not quantifiable. What can we say by that? Where, exactly, does it exist?


In the brain...
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 08:42 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think Horowitz was talking about much later in his career when he played infrequently and tended to play certain works repeatedly. In addition, Richter had one of the largest performing repertoires of any pianist ever, so that requires more time to learn than a smaller repertoire. So I think the comparison with number of hours is extremely flawed.

I think that's important is that both of them could starting from a very young age age probably learn pieces far more quickly than most people, even most professionals at a similar age.

So, perhaps the numbers are slightly different. I think mermily addressed that in the post. But rather than focus on details, let's focus on the idea behind it, which is sound: if one virtuoso practices more than another, does that mean the other has more "talent"? In other words, if Richter did, indeed, practice more than Horowitz, does that mean Horowitz was more "talented"?
Of course not.
I gave two major reasons in my post why any comparison of Richter's hours vs. Horowitz's hours(if, in fact, his statement was true or just an exaggeration to impress) was basically meaningless for the purposes of this thread.

Then, I suppose I am at a completely loss in trying to figure out what you mean by "talent". It is not a physical endowment. It is not a question of time. It is not a question of ability (since you believe that this thing is "innate", which means "existing before ability was learned"). It is not potential, since the "potential" for anyone is, in fact, the same; that is, we are describing reaching the virtuoso level, which is static. It is not in the amount of practice time it takes for one pianist to be equal to another. So far, it would seem that this "talent" thing exists nowhere, and is certainly not quantifiable. What can we say by that? Where, exactly, does it exist?
I didn't say it was not a physical endowment. That's just your opinion and everything you wrote after that is just also your opinion also.

Your post reminds me of a few other ones on this thread where you kept on saying "we" and you should have said "I".

Finally your comment has nothing to do with my point about the irrelevance of comparing the practice hours for Richter and Horowitz. If one pianist has a gigantic performing repertoire and another has a tiny performing repertoire, if one give numerous concerts and the other gives few concerts there is relevance in trying to draw conclusions about their practice time no matter what is being discussed.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/23/13 11:18 PM

Originally Posted By: Old Man
oh boy, I hate to use the word... sorry Derulux ... t*l*nt.

hahaha very nice! laugh

Quote:
One cannot become a prodigy. Either you are or you aren't.

What makes you a prodigy? Is there a time-limit on this?

Quote:
Near the beginning of this discussion I believed that no one past a certain age could ever hope to become a virtuoso, because prodigies, by definition, are presumed to be very young. But what if a child is truly a prodigy (born with innate musical gifts), but never sees a piano until the age of 20? I think that if this 20-year old prodigy-in-waiting began his musical training alongside a 20-year old of "average" talent, the difference in the rate of progress would still be dramatic. He may never wear the mantle of "great", but I suspect that his innate ability would come to the fore, and that it would be quickly recognized.

I agree that that is the presumption about prodigies. Would you consider it factual? In terms of the mantle of "greatness", I think that is more marketing/PR than actual ability. I've never put much stock in it, largely because it requires the consensus (read: "groupthink") of many people. I suppose one could equate "greatness" with "famous" (not to be confused with "infamous"). It is difficult to acquire the mantle without the fame, though a better pianist one might be. (IMO)

Quote:
And not only would it be readily observable, but measurable as well. (I'm trying to ingratiate myself to Derulux the Physicist grin ).

hahaha man, twice in one post? grin


Originally Posted By: JoelW
(Talent exists) In the brain...

I can work with this. You must believe, then, that it is genetic? Otherwise, it would be learned, and talent is, by definition, "innate", not "learned".

If that is so, why aren't the great virtuosos the product of great virtuosos? That is, why wasn't Horowitz's mother/father a great virtuoso? Or Rachmaninoff? Or Kissin? Or Argerich? Or, well, virtually every single virtuoso out there. Pick any field--virtually none of the "prodigies" are the product of "prodigies". If it was all about the ingredients, there should be at least a significant percentage of examples.. no?

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I didn't say it was not a physical endowment. That's just your opinion and everything you wrote after that is just also your opinion also.

Fair enough. Then you do believe it's a physical endowment?
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/24/13 12:17 AM

I think the best thing about "musical talent" is that I don't really know if I have any of it. I don't really care either, because I know that if I keep practicing and listening carefully, I'll start to sound the way I want to sound, which is good enough for me. Why would I want to sound like Richter or Horowitz anyways?
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/24/13 06:11 AM

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
It would be interesting to extend the more-time-to-learn-something-means-you're-less-naturally-gifted argument to actual virtuosos. Horowitz claimed ("claimed" being the operative word) to have practiced around an hour a day, whereas Claudio Arrau and Richter and others claimed to have practiced ten or fourteen hours a day at intensive points in their careers and several hours per day as the standard. We could take a very conservative estimate and say Richter practiced ~4 hours a day on average and compared to Horowitz's professed 1 hour. I imagine you can see where I'm going with this -- You could argue that Richter is rather a slow learner by this measure. If Horowitz practiced, say, 30,000 hours over his lifetime, it took Richter a shabby 120,000 hours to do the same. Anyway, however fast learners they were we don't compare the greatness of virtuosos based on "the time it took them." We end up more concerned with the practical consequences of whether their version of the Mephisto waltz was dazzling and wonderful.



Myself, I don't trust the self-reporting of these virtuosos about how much they practice, unless they are clearly trying to be honest about it. In the case of Richter, there's a funny story of him telling someone about his practice regime, and his live-in companion immediately contradicting it.

Regardless of that, I was talking about the differences between how fast people learn, especially young ones, and not about practice time.

One virtuoso practice story that I do believe is from Backhaus, who said that he worked on scales and arpeggios for an hour every day, and that accounted for much of his technique. That time is not time spent learning, it is time doing a daily calisthenic routine. Similarly, if Schiff spends the first two hours of his daily practice playing Bach, he is not learning new repertoire, but going over music he already knows.

Quote:


Re: savants, there was another NYT article about child prodigies in math/music (sorry to keep bringing the New York Times into it). Child prodigies were studied across these multiple domains and it was found that in music, the children had IQs around the average; but one of the standout traits cognitively was that around 40% of them were on the autism/Asperger's spectrum. Children with autism frequently take a fanatical interest in a particular category of knowledge (e.g. how washing machines work, the Titanic, music) and acquire uncommon expertise in their obsession. But to me, when a seven year old child regales me with some obscure professorial information about the Titanic, I would attribute it to the fact that they were obsessed with the Titanic and read encyclopedia articles about it and watched PBS shows about it, rather than attributing it to the child's innate capacity to accumulate Titanic related facts. The fact is, it's not normal for a tiny child to feel like practicing the piano or violin for 5 hours a day during the early childhood period where muscle memory, etc. is being established. Most parents can't entice their toddler to quit throwing their toy off the edge of the high chair, much less to sit at the piano for long periods of time and learn a complex instrument and be engaged with it. To me it's fairly unsurprising that a child with a genetic pre-disposition toward excessive interest would acquire a skill like music exponentially faster than a typical child.

Here's a scenario you never hear:
"My 3 year old son spends hours and hours at the piano. He is fascinated with music and I just can't get him away. It's all he wants to do. I just can't break it to him that he simply doesn't have any natural talent for it. He tries and tries and can never learn Lightly Row."


For all that, I don't think there's a single classical pianist with a major career who has been identified as being a savant.
Posted by: chopin_r_us

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/24/13 06:55 AM

Originally Posted By: wr

For all that, I don't think there's a single classical pianist with a major career who has been identified as being a savant.
Are they not just savants with brains?
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/24/13 07:11 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: wr
I really shouldn't have to explain this...

If we were all immortal, it wouldn't make any difference, because time limits would be irrelevant. But since we aren't, it does.

And taking it a bit further, as a subset of our lifespan, the years in which we are young are also limited, and those are the years in which we can learn things at very rapid rates relative to how fast we learn later in life. So the amount of time it takes to learn matters the most when we are learning the most, when we are young.

If it takes pianist A two years to learn a particular Beethoven sonata starting when they are twelve, and it takes pianist B two weeks to learn the same sonata at the same age, the potential capacity of pianist B can be extrapolated to be much greater than that of pianist A. Neither pianist has an eternity in which to accomplish whatever they are going to accomplish.

You are taking into account things which have been proven to be wrong. Adults learn very differently from children (for the most part), but they certainly don't learn slower. Here's one great article on the cognitive differences between adults and children:

http://www.exploreadultlearning.co.uk/cognitive-differences-adults-children-learning.html

Here is another from FSU: http://www.fsu.edu/~adult-ed/jenny/learning.html. Read, especially, the paragraph on "Intelligence and Aging." This sentence in particular: "It has been difficult for educators and researchers alike to give up the stereotype that young equals sharp and older means dull."

The biggest problem for adult learners is this one: "The greatest problems with memory for older learners occur with meaningless learning, complex learning, and the learning of new things that require reassessment of old learning. (1991)"

For most adults, they've either learned incorrect piano technique, improper practice routines, or both. Going back and fixing it as an adult requires a reassessment of learning, which is extraordinarily difficult the older we get. However, the ability to learn is still there in spades--unless, of course, you're taking the hypothetical situation of an adult who has never heard music. In that case, you do have a very strong argument. But I don't know a single adult who has never heard music.

Here's an article from eHow about the differences between pedagogy and andragogy: http://www.ehow.com/about_6368845_children-vs_-adult-learning.html. I think this is critical to your assumption that children learn faster. In the realm of teaching piano, most instructors only know one way: pedagogy. The teacher says, and the student does. But for adults, this approach doesn't work. Perhaps that is why so many believe the old paradigm to be true--when, in fact, it is the teacher's failures at understanding adult learning that cause the problem. wink



Well, that's a lot of googling, but all for naught, I'm afraid. For one thing, nothing in the links you provide refute the fact that kids go through an explosive learning period that is unmatched in adult life. But that's not the main issue, anyway - which is that if two people within the same age cohort are learning at very different rates, the overall capacity of the one learning faster will be greater.


Quote:
At any rate, I don't remember anything like what you describe, and I am not going to reread the entire thread trying figure out what it is you might be alluding to. Whatever it is, it seems to be couched in purely negative terms, as if there cannot be any genetic advantages, but only disadvantages.
Quote:

You don't have to. I did provide an executive summary immediately subsequent to the sentence you must have read.



I know what you wrote - given your bias, I hardly expect it to be an executive summary, unless the executive you had in mind is particularly gullible.

Quote:
Since I don't know what you are talking about
Quote:

This much, my friend, is quite obvious. And what I mean to say by that, is that it is clear you read for the sake of refuting, rather than for the sake of understanding. wink



There's not a lot there to understand, and selective misquoting on your part doesn't really add much to your position. As far as "reading to refute" goes, you certainly have surpassed me by a wide margin in this thread.

Quote:
The field is still in its infancy, as far as what genome sequencing reveals. I had mine sequenced (just the SNPs, actually)
Quote:

I would actually like to do this when I can afford it. I am very interested in what the results would reveal. There was a great article I read about two years ago on the subject of genetic disorders and the reliability of genetic testing that turned me on to getting "tested". It was a hard copy article I don't have anymore, and I can't remember the name of the author. If I do remember, and you're interested, I'll shoot it over. (Might have been Reader's Digest, but I'm leaning towards one of the scientific journals I read regularly.)

There are many scientists now saying we'll have the entire genome mapped in the next 15-20 years. Wonder what we'll do then...


The Human Genome Project announced that mapping was essentially complete back in 2003. There have been developments since then, but the main mapping work seems to be done. Interpreting it is a whole different matter...
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/24/13 07:27 AM

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
Originally Posted By: Derulux

So, I believe a lot of it is in that distinct ability to "see things differently" than everyone else. Why does this ability develop? A product of experiences, an ability or disability in certain areas, a sum of exposure, interest, motivation, dedication, questions that pop up in the mind.. there are a million possible reasons. Picasso certainly "saw things differently."


I believe this is so much infinitely more important to creating art than your genetic raw material. For me, what makes Glenn Gould great is the choices he makes musically, to emphasize a particular note, or bring out a melody that was hidden in the music, or produce a stirring emotional effect that I hadn't encountered before in that music. The childhood wizardry stuff is great for him and everything, but it's not the place wherein the art lies, or the virtuosity for that matter (to me).


You seem to be assuming that the ability to see differently is not part of one's genetic raw material, or at least that genetics don't play a role in it. But why? To me, it seems quite possible that ability could tie in with some genetic factors, in some artistically inclined people.
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/24/13 07:46 AM

Originally Posted By: cefinow
I believe in the existence of prodigious and inexplicable gifts, not attainable if you’re not born with them. Yet, when it comes to a practical outlook on one’s own life and working with what each person has, the “gifted/ungifted” notion is mostly useless.



You are right, but for the gifted people a problem remains, which is that they have been singled out. And that can have all sorts of practical ramifications.

Quote:


Anyway, the love of music is an extraordinary gift in itself—who knows why we love music? Where did it come from? Why do we find it intriguing and enchanting? – and so I don’t begrudge the hours of hard work and practice at all; I love music, I love working hard at it. Maybe it’s even more interesting to figure it out bit by bit, than to have it all handed over on a silver platter of instinctive brilliance.

What I find surprising now, is that the more I understand about music, the more I am able to understand. Innate capacity, whether prodigious or not, may not be a fixed quality.


Well, sure, we can continue to learn and grow, thank goodness, but the capacity for it is fixed to some degree by the amount of time in which we have to do it. If I had died 10 years ago, my capacity would have be fixed exactly at that point.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/24/13 01:03 PM

Originally Posted By: wr
Well, that's a lot of googling, but all for naught, I'm afraid. For one thing, nothing in the links you provide refute the fact that kids go through an explosive learning period that is unmatched in adult life. But that's not the main issue, anyway - which is that if two people within the same age cohort are learning at very different rates, the overall capacity of the one learning faster will be greater.

Afraid it's not. I wasn't aware I had to refute that, and I wouldn't try. Are you trying to find an adult who was never exposed to music to use as an example? If so, I'm sure you'll have a tough time, but even if you did manage, I'm equally sure that doesn't really represent the cross-section of real life. wink

Quote:
The Human Genome Project announced that mapping was essentially complete back in 2003. There have been developments since then, but the main mapping work seems to be done. Interpreting it is a whole different matter...

I am so glad you appreciate the argument of semantics. Pardon me if I don't entertain. As for your other purely argumentative statements, I'll leave them to their graves as well.

Quote:
You seem to be assuming that the ability to see differently is not part of one's genetic raw material, or at least that genetics don't play a role in it. But why? To me, it seems quite possible that ability could tie in with some genetic factors, in some artistically inclined people.

Great. Go out and find evidence of it and get back to us. I, for one, will wait. wink

Quote:
You are right, but for the gifted people a problem remains, which is that they have been singled out. And that can have all sorts of practical ramifications.

Such as?

Quote:
Well, sure, we can continue to learn and grow, thank goodness, but the capacity for it is fixed to some degree by the amount of time in which we have to do it. If I had died 10 years ago, my capacity would have be fixed exactly at that point.

It is amazing in all of this, that no one has referenced my signature line. I had expected it to happen some time ago. Of course, if you died ten years ago, you couldn't, under any circumstances I'm currently aware of, be a virtuoso today. If a two-year-old dies suddenly (for any reason), they will never have the chance to be a virtuoso. Does that mean they didn't have "talent", because they didn't "make it"? I'm not sure how that would help your position, unless you are off the "talent" argument and on to something else entirely?
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/24/13 09:07 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: wr
Well, that's a lot of googling, but all for naught, I'm afraid. For one thing, nothing in the links you provide refute the fact that kids go through an explosive learning period that is unmatched in adult life. But that's not the main issue, anyway - which is that if two people within the same age cohort are learning at very different rates, the overall capacity of the one learning faster will be greater.

Afraid it's not. I wasn't aware I had to refute that, and I wouldn't try. Are you trying to find an adult who was never exposed to music to use as an example? If so, I'm sure you'll have a tough time, but even if you did manage, I'm equally sure that doesn't really represent the cross-section of real life. wink



What does finding an adult never exposed to music have to do with what I said?

I didn't say that adults can't learn, or that they are less intelligent than kids. Just that in terms of learning music, they are slower when old than when young. Ask any classical pianist who was learning advanced music as a teen, and who is now over 60 and is still learning the music of the same level of difficulty, for a comparison.

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The Human Genome Project announced that mapping was essentially complete back in 2003. There have been developments since then, but the main mapping work seems to be done. Interpreting it is a whole different matter...

I am so glad you appreciate the argument of semantics. Pardon me if I don't entertain. As for your other purely argumentative statements, I'll leave them to their graves as well.



I'm not arguing - just providing a fact regarding the status of mapping the human genome.

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You seem to be assuming that the ability to see differently is not part of one's genetic raw material, or at least that genetics don't play a role in it. But why? To me, it seems quite possible that ability could tie in with some genetic factors, in some artistically inclined people.

Great. Go out and find evidence of it and get back to us. I, for one, will wait. wink



http://jmg.bmj.com/content/45/7/451.full

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You are right, but for the gifted people a problem remains, which is that they have been singled out. And that can have all sorts of practical ramifications.

Such as?



Well, for one thing, depending on location, it may mean that an entirely different education track opens up.

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Well, sure, we can continue to learn and grow, thank goodness, but the capacity for it is fixed to some degree by the amount of time in which we have to do it. If I had died 10 years ago, my capacity would have be fixed exactly at that point.

It is amazing in all of this, that no one has referenced my signature line. I had expected it to happen some time ago.



Don't be amazed - there's an option not to view people's sigs that can be set in the forum preferences. I've never seen yours.

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Of course, if you died ten years ago, you couldn't, under any circumstances I'm currently aware of, be a virtuoso today. If a two-year-old dies suddenly (for any reason), they will never have the chance to be a virtuoso. Does that mean they didn't have "talent", because they didn't "make it"? I'm not sure how that would help your position, unless you are off the "talent" argument and on to something else entirely?


I was responding to a specific post about capacity for musical learning.

I think that one aspect of musical talent is demonstrated by the capacity one has for the learning and understanding of music. Because our lifetimes are finite, there's a built-in limitation to that capacity. That limitation doesn't limit talent, but it does limit one way in which it is manifested.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/24/13 09:38 PM

Originally Posted By: wr
I didn't say that adults can't learn, or that they are less intelligent than kids. Just that in terms of learning music, they are slower when old than when young. Ask any classical pianist who was learning advanced music as a teen, and who is now over 60 and is still learning the music of the same level of difficulty, for a comparison.

I think I would first ask them if they're still practicing the same way they did in their teens. Chances are, the answer is yes. To see real results, one much change the process.

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Well, for one thing, depending on location, it may mean that an entirely different education track opens up.

Ah, got it. When you said "ramifications," I thought you were implying a negative. Thanks for clarifying.

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Don't be amazed - there's an option not to view people's sigs that can be set in the forum preferences. I've never seen yours.

Seriously? haha I definitely didn't know that!

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I think that one aspect of musical talent is demonstrated by the capacity one has for the learning and understanding of music. Because our lifetimes are finite, there's a built-in limitation to that capacity. That limitation doesn't limit talent, but it does limit one way in which it is manifested.

Now, this is an interesting idea. I like it, but I'm still trying to work through what it means. When you say "...talent is demonstrated by the capacity one has for the learning and understanding of music," would you also say something like this: Horowitz had a greater capacity to learn and understand music later in his career than when he was a child?
Posted by: bennevis

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/24/13 09:45 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux

I happen to be someone who has reached the pinnacle of an athletic endeavor. Having been heavily invested in more than one sport throughout my life, and having succeeded at the highest level in one of them, I can only tell you what I have seen from every single person with whom I have ever been in competition, or in which sport I have ever competed. That is: he who works hardest, smartest, and longest, wins. I have never, ever found an exception to this rule.



I'm surprised that if you're an elite sportsman, you believe that great sportspeople are mainly made, not born. The VO2 max that anyone can achieve, given optimum training, is largely genetically determined (assuming no medical help like EPO/blood doping etc). Which is why sportspeople can transfer so easily from one sports to another and achieve elite levels in more than one. In the London Olympics, there were two British athletes who previously competed at the Olympics at totally different sports. Not to mention an elite marathon runner who came out of nowhere, who started training at well after age 30. If you want to be a great sportsperson, choose your parents wisely.....(which is not the same as 'winning', which of course also requires single-minded dedication to training and avoidance of injuries etc).

High achievement in classical music is also transferable between different instruments (e.g. Julia Fischer). The aptitude (or talent) for playing music is also largely genetically determined. The vast majority of pianists will never achieve virtuoso level no matter how much they practise, or how well they're trained/taught.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/24/13 10:45 PM

I can't think of a single great pianist where the comments or biography about him said he worked harder, smarter, or longer than the other professional pianists of his time.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/24/13 10:46 PM

I can't think of a single great pianist where the comments or biography about him said he worked harder, smarter, or longer than the other professional pianists of his time.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/24/13 11:01 PM

Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: Derulux

I happen to be someone who has reached the pinnacle of an athletic endeavor. Having been heavily invested in more than one sport throughout my life, and having succeeded at the highest level in one of them, I can only tell you what I have seen from every single person with whom I have ever been in competition, or in which sport I have ever competed. That is: he who works hardest, smartest, and longest, wins. I have never, ever found an exception to this rule.



I'm surprised that if you're an elite sportsman, you believe that great sportspeople are mainly made, not born. The VO2 max that anyone can achieve, given optimum training, is largely genetically determined (assuming no medical help like EPO/blood doping etc). Which is why sportspeople can transfer so easily from one sports to another and achieve elite levels in more than one. In the London Olympics, there were two British athletes who previously competed at the Olympics at totally different sports. Not to mention an elite marathon runner who came out of nowhere, who started training at well after age 30. If you want to be a great sportsperson, choose your parents wisely.....(which is not the same as 'winning', which of course also requires single-minded dedication to training and avoidance of injuries etc).

High achievement in classical music is also transferable between different instruments (e.g. Julia Fischer). The aptitude (or talent) for playing music is also largely genetically determined. The vast majority of pianists will never achieve virtuoso level no matter how much they practise, or how well they're trained/taught.

That's certainly true about VO2 max. However, just because you can suck wind the best doesn't mean you'll be the best at your sport. It certainly helps, yes, but it doesn't determine the winner. Same for piano--having big hands, or being able to move your fingers faster than someone else, may help, but it doesn't determine your level of musicianship. How you train determines that, and that training starts the second you take your first breath (regardless of what the eventual endeavor is).

For example-- someone who eats 5000 calories a day from birth until 5 years old, and weighs 175 pounds, will not be as good a marathon runner as a 5 year-old who ate right and trained right for those five years. Over time, these things can equalize, but the more time you spend doing the wrong thing, the longer it takes to get to the result you want.

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I can't think of a single great pianist where the comments or biography about him said he worked harder, smarter, or longer than the other professional pianists of his time.

That's because of marketing (and subconscious human desire). The community has this unnatural adherence to the belief that one absolutely has to be a "child prodigy", that everything has to be "intuitive", or that everything has to come "easy" if one is to be great in the endeavor. Reality, however, is very detached from that belief.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/28/13 05:09 PM

I was just watching one of the Star Wars movies with my kids, it made me think of this thread! You've got the Jedi, I think it's Liam Neeson, who happens upon little Annikin in a used spaceship lot. He gets out his Force-O-Meter, which goes off the scales. The master Jedi gets Annikin out of slavery and off they go to some planet to apply to the conservatory ... I mean, to Jedi academy.

I agree generally with Derelux's point of view, although not with every point that he has made in this thread.

I think that playing a musical instrument even at a virtuosic level is a democratic quality, it is in the reach of everyone with normal physical and intellectual capacities. Not all things are the same in life, the apparently rare physical (genetic) potential to run 100 meters in under 10 seconds or to press 500 pounds is not comparable to music making which is basically a form of communication between human beings rather than an individual physical challenge. Yitzak Perlman couldn't haven't run as fast as Usian Bolt, but Usain Bolt could have been a virtuoso violinist.

Playing an instrument is more like love, physical sexual love, which is something that everyone can do marvelously when they are moved. And as with love there are a million things that weigh on a person and even turn this most elementary human activity into something apparently unapproachable. And similarly someone who seems completely unable and "untalented" can in another situation be brilliant.

I have a couple of friends, the wife came upon emails of her husband's mistress (of course she didn't know beforehand that her husband was "playing around") and she was astonished to learn that her boring and passive husband was capable of passion!

I believe that genious of all forms is something that is acquired. Einstein wasn't born a genious, he became one by hoisting himself to the level of certain problems that were posed. In any field not all problems demand such an accomplishment; once certain problems are resolved all other activity is necessarily of a lesser category and everyone else is condemned to appear less gifted intellectually.

If one day someone discovers a piano gene it will nonetheless be the case (as with all things genetic) that it is only of statistical relevance, that is to say that most people with this genetic trait will not be exceptional pianists, which is rather obvious, but also that most exceptional pianists will not have this gene. It will remain useless for the piano Jedi to get out their Force-O-Meters in hopes of selecting the best candidates to be the next ____________ ( fill in the blanc as you wish )!
Posted by: cefinow

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/28/13 11:16 PM

Originally Posted By: landorrano
Yitzak Perlman couldn't haven't run as fast as Usian Bolt, but Usain Bolt could have been a virtuoso violinist.


I'm sorry, but... Perlman is not replaceable by any random person. You don't work your way up to a gift like that. It just exists. The hard work follows after, but it's the work of cutting and polishing the diamond.

Whatever talent you have, you get to cut and polish it, but not everybody gets a diamond to work with.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/29/13 02:06 PM

Originally Posted By: cefinow
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Yitzak Perlman couldn't haven't run as fast as Usian Bolt, but Usain Bolt could have been a virtuoso violinist.


I'm sorry, but... Perlman is not replaceable by any random person. You don't work your way up to a gift like that. It just exists. The hard work follows after, but it's the work of cutting and polishing the diamond.

Whatever talent you have, you get to cut and polish it, but not everybody gets a diamond to work with.

A gift like what, exactly? Can you quantify it? If you can't (and since it is art and not science, you probably can't wink ), then it is absolutely possible for someone else to be able to accomplish the same things. In such a subjective field, there is no "right" or "wrong". That's one of the beauties of art.

It is, however, also one of the major downfalls when people start trying to have "intellectual" conversations about art. The stuff was meant to be enjoyed, not intellectualized. So, those who seek to find "reasons" usually end up with "feelings" that they actually believe are real reasons, and that is a dangerous and slippery slope.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/29/13 02:28 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux


A gift like what, exactly? Can you quantify it? If you can't (and since it is art and not science, you probably can't wink ), then it is absolutely possible for someone else to be able to accomplish the same things. In such a subjective field, there is no "right" or "wrong". That's one of the beauties of art.


Oh please. You can't give a shred of evidence for your claims. Your "if I can't see it, it doesn't exist" mentality conflicts with your own views. Go ahead, list off every single "variable" it took, in just the right way and at just the right time to make Mozart who he was and not just another musician. I want a detailed report of EXACTLY every variable, or else your views are hypocritical. If you could give me this kind of information, we would be able to apply his situation to anyone else and make them a Mozart.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/29/13 02:28 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
A gift like what, exactly? Can you quantify it? If you can't (and since it is art and not science, you probably can't wink ), then it is absolutely possible for someone else to be able to accomplish the same things....

I've been only glancing at this thread since it got into what it has gotten into grin .....but this thing you just said is quite something.

Derulux, you've gotten lost in yourself. smile

Something doesn't have to be "quantifiable" for us to know that it is so. And I'm sure you know that. You've been making up supposed bits of logic as you've gone along, and this tops it.
Posted by: cefinow

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/29/13 05:20 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
A gift like what, exactly? Can you quantify it?


Yes, yes, Derulux, I can; just to satisfy your desire for proof. I was looking into some research about the nexus doni neurons in the brain (in layman's terms, "gift center") and researchers have been able to photograph it while activated. Accompanying it is a brief audio description of the mechanism of action. Here. Note that this anatomical feature occurs only in the brains of truly, innately gifted individuals.

Uh-oh... look at the time, I should be practicing...
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/29/13 05:30 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Derulux
A gift like what, exactly? Can you quantify it? If you can't (and since it is art and not science, you probably can't wink ), then it is absolutely possible for someone else to be able to accomplish the same things....

I've been only glancing at this thread since it got into what it has gotten into grin .....but this thing you just said is quite something.

Derulux, you've gotten lost in yourself. smile

Something doesn't have to be "quantifiable" for us to know that it is so. And I'm sure you know that. You've been making up supposed bits of logic as you've gone along, and this tops it.

Yep, there is always a significant chance of that. smile

My main point here is that art is qualitative, not quantitative--as well it should be. Yet, people get into discussions about the quantitative nature of art, and that position not only isn't tenable, but I think it detracts significantly from the art itself.

This has strayed somewhat from the "talent" discussion earlier, and though we've had the discussion many times before, I thought it strong enough to discuss (in part) again, while keeping it somewhat separate from the "talent" issue.

Originally Posted By: cefinow
Originally Posted By: Derulux
A gift like what, exactly? Can you quantify it?


Yes, yes, Derulux, I can; just to satisfy your desire for proof. I was looking into some research about the nexus doni neurons in the brain (in layman's terms, "gift center") and researchers have been able to photograph it while activated. Accompanying it is a brief audio description of the mechanism of action. Here. Note that this anatomical feature occurs only in the brains of truly, innately gifted individuals.

Uh-oh... look at the time, I should be practicing...

hahahahahahahaha well played, sir. laugh
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/29/13 06:28 PM

Originally Posted By: cefinow
the nexus doni neurons in the brain


Nexus doni! Great stuff! Neurons ... and in the brain at that! This makes the whole thread worthwhile! Even gives a motivation to keep it going ...
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 04/29/13 08:06 PM

Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: cefinow
the nexus doni neurons in the brain


Nexus doni! Great stuff! Neurons ... and in the brain at that! This makes the whole thread worthwhile! Even gives a motivation to keep it going ...


I have been saying this the whole time.
Posted by: Old Man

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/01/13 11:24 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: Old Man
One cannot become a prodigy. Either you are or you aren't.

What makes you a prodigy? Is there a time-limit on this?

Yes. I think the human gestation period is approximately 9 months - give or take.

Originally Posted By: Derulux
I agree that that is the presumption about prodigies. Would you consider it factual? In terms of the mantle of "greatness", I think that is more marketing/PR than actual ability. I've never put much stock in it, largely because it requires the consensus (read: "groupthink") of many people. I suppose one could equate "greatness" with "famous" (not to be confused with "infamous"). It is difficult to acquire the mantle without the fame, though a better pianist one might be. (IMO)

So Horowitz, Rubinstein, Ax, Perahia, Gould, Sokolov, Zimerman, etc. are simply products of "groupthink", or expert marketing? They're merely "famous"?? Surely you jest.

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: JoelW
(Talent exists) In the brain...

I can work with this. You must believe, then, that it is genetic? Otherwise, it would be learned, and talent is, by definition, "innate", not "learned".

If that is so, why aren't the great virtuosos the product of great virtuosos? That is, why wasn't Horowitz's mother/father a great virtuoso? Or Rachmaninoff? Or Kissin? Or Argerich? Or, well, virtually every single virtuoso out there. Pick any field--virtually none of the "prodigies" are the product of "prodigies". If it was all about the ingredients, there should be at least a significant percentage of examples.. no?

I can't believe you wrote this. Can you not distinguish between "innate", "naturally gifted", "genetic" from "inherited"? We don't necessarily "inherit" the talents of our parents, and we may well be endowed with gifts our parents don't have. Many parents with little or no education have produced geniuses, and many brilliant parents have produced children who have only average intelligence, or are even developmentally disabled.

I'm a prime example. My oldest son graduated from U. of Chicago in physics, and was the first (maybe only) undergrad to be allowed to spend a year at CERN. He wrote software for "collectors", which measure debris from particle bombardments, and he graduated in 3 years. Now, let's look at mom and dad. Dad could maybe pull a B or B+ in math and science if he put in an inordinate number of hours studying, and mom barely got through high school because of her struggles with math (yet she aced all the "right brain" subjects").

So how would you explain my situation? Are mom and dad just lazy asses? My son studied very little, from the time he was 5 until he went off to college. He didn't have to, because he had a natural gift for math and science. And if you think he loved math and science, he didn't. He majored in physics because it was something he was good at, and he thought he'd try it out. But as soon as he graduated, he immediately went into software development (his true love), where he remains to this day. He couldn't care less about math and science.

This personal example would seem to contradict nearly everything you've said. A kid with only above-average parents sails through math and science his entire life, with minimal study time, and minimal interest in the subject matter. Where exactly does all this hard work and ambition and nurturing fit into this equation?
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/01/13 12:02 PM

Originally Posted By: Old Man
This personal example would seem to contradict nearly everything you've said.


As would my personal example had I gave it. I won't go there though.
Posted by: Steve Chandler

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/01/13 02:09 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: cefinow
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Yitzak Perlman couldn't haven't run as fast as Usian Bolt, but Usain Bolt could have been a virtuoso violinist.


I'm sorry, but... Perlman is not replaceable by any random person. You don't work your way up to a gift like that. It just exists. The hard work follows after, but it's the work of cutting and polishing the diamond.

Whatever talent you have, you get to cut and polish it, but not everybody gets a diamond to work with.

A gift like what, exactly? Can you quantify it? If you can't (and since it is art and not science, you probably can't wink ), then it is absolutely possible for someone else to be able to accomplish the same things. In such a subjective field, there is no "right" or "wrong". That's one of the beauties of art.

There are any types of intelligence and each may impact one's artistic abilities. For example a very small number of people have memories that allow them to remember every day of their lives. While there are tricks anyone can learn and use to improve their memory the fact remains that the number of people who can remember every day of their lives is very small and most of them came by the ability without learning any memory tricks. Certainly you'd agree that having a great memory allows one to be a better pianist (all other factors being equal with a great pianist).

Other types of intelligence that impact piano playing would be ear/hearing ability (doesn't everyone know at least one person who's tone deaf?), fine motor skills (aren't some people just naturally more coordinated than others?). I'm sure there are many more aspects of intelligence that bear upon pianism and/or musicianship in general, this addresses the question at only a macro level. I can't imagine that you think everyone starts with the same intellectual abilities, the evidence to the contrary is everywhere. I would say that most people have superior ability in some aspects of intelligence
Posted by: Old Man

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/01/13 05:21 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Old Man
This personal example would seem to contradict nearly everything you've said.


As would my personal example had I gave it. I won't go there though.

That's because you're smarter than I am. grin Definitely TMI, but sometimes firsthand knowledge can be more convincing. Although I doubt that'll be true in this case.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/01/13 07:37 PM

Originally Posted By: Old Man
....firsthand knowledge can be more convincing. Although I doubt that'll be true in this case.

I'm convinced of this. grin
Posted by: hujidong

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/01/13 07:44 PM

But if you dig deep enough you'll find coal, and if you polish it well enough you can make diamonds! It's all just guesses anyways.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/01/13 08:03 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Old Man
....firsthand knowledge can be more convincing. Although I doubt that'll be true in this case.

I'm convinced of this. grin


I'm convinced that even the most convincing neuroscientist in the world couldn't convince Derulux. whistle

Posted by: Old Man

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/01/13 08:32 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Old Man
....firsthand knowledge can be more convincing. Although I doubt that'll be true in this case.

I'm convinced of this. grin


I'm convinced that even the most convincing neuroscientist in the world couldn't convince Derulux. whistle

Joel, you are correct. But I can forgive him, because he's one of the most thoughtful and well-reasoned (most of the time) people in this forum.

And then there's that other thing . . .

Click to reveal..
He's a martial arts expert, and can kick my ass.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/01/13 08:34 PM

Originally Posted By: Old Man
He's a martial arts expert, and can kick my ass.


Really? That's awesome.

Which martial art do you know, Derulux?
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/01/13 09:56 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
I'm convinced that even the most convincing neuroscientist in the world couldn't convince Derulux. whistle

We know that for a fact, because said person tried. ha
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/05/13 08:47 PM

Originally Posted By: Old Man
Originally Posted By: Derulux
[quote=Old Man]
One cannot become a prodigy. Either you are or you aren't.

What makes you a prodigy? Is there a time-limit on this?


Yes. I think the human gestation period is approximately 9 months - give or take.

So, you are saying that, either you are a prodigy at birth or you are not? Unless I misunderstand you, I'm not even sure Kissin made the cutoff on that one.. wink

Originally Posted By: Old Man
So Horowitz, Rubinstein, Ax, Perahia, Gould, Sokolov, Zimerman, etc. are simply products of "groupthink", or expert marketing? They're merely "famous"?? Surely you jest.

Not at all; I simply think it folly to believe that only those super-famous people are good at what they do--or are even the "best" at what they do. They are perceived as the best because they are the most well-known. And I'm not going to say they aren't darn good. They are. But there may be a complete unknown out there who's better.

Quote:
I can't believe you wrote this. Can you not distinguish between "innate", "naturally gifted", "genetic" from "inherited"? We don't necessarily "inherit" the talents of our parents, and we may well be endowed with gifts our parents don't have. Many parents with little or no education have produced geniuses, and many brilliant parents have produced children who have only average intelligence, or are even developmentally disabled.

The definition provided was, "Talent exists in the brain." This, to me, indicates genetics. But, let's look at your example.

Quote:
I'm a prime example. My oldest son graduated from U. of Chicago in physics, and was the first (maybe only) undergrad to be allowed to spend a year at CERN. He wrote software for "collectors", which measure debris from particle bombardments, and he graduated in 3 years. Now, let's look at mom and dad. Dad could maybe pull a B or B+ in math and science if he put in an inordinate number of hours studying, and mom barely got through high school because of her struggles with math (yet she aced all the "right brain" subjects").

He's not the only one. I can name two others, one of which was my own cousin. He may, however, have been the first. That, I could not say. Incidentally, CERN also offers a summer research program for undergrads, but I don't include that because it doesn't sound like the same thing you're talking about. I'm assuming your son worked on the Higgs project? If so, that's very cool work, indeed. smile

Quote:
So how would you explain my situation? Are mom and dad just lazy asses?

Okay, this made me laugh. I suppose you're expecting me to say, "There's always that chance...?" laugh

Quote:
This personal example would seem to contradict nearly everything you've said. A kid with only above-average parents sails through math and science his entire life, with minimal study time, and minimal interest in the subject matter. Where exactly does all this hard work and ambition and nurturing fit into this equation?

I'm not sure that it does contradict anything I've said. (It may; I definitely have to concede that. I'm just not sure, so I'm continuing to discuss. smile ) I didn't study longer than an hour for any exam I ever took, college physics finals included. I suppose in that respect, I know exactly what your son experienced--or at least something very similar. But I did take a strong interest in "learning" from a very young age. So, whether it was an endeavor I particularly enjoyed or not, I tended to learn it. And much like anything else--the more you know, the stronger your foundation, the easier you learn future things. For me, I can say that I learned things faster as I got older because I had already learned the other things when I was younger, so that learning compounded. Perhaps a part of his interest was in an area that facilitated the particular learning which you have described -- software development is tied very closely to the subjects in which he excelled (in terms of which parts of the brain we use for those endeavors).

I think that this would be an interesting study to conduct, one in which I would even like to participate (though I think I might be slightly past the age at which I would be able to participate). smile

Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
There are any types of intelligence and each may impact one's artistic abilities. For example a very small number of people have memories that allow them to remember every day of their lives. While there are tricks anyone can learn and use to improve their memory the fact remains that the number of people who can remember every day of their lives is very small and most of them came by the ability without learning any memory tricks. Certainly you'd agree that having a great memory allows one to be a better pianist (all other factors being equal with a great pianist).

Steve, thanks for joining -- and great post! I've heard of similar cases with synesthesia. There was a gentleman not long ago who was able to repeat pi out to 25,000 digits after hearing it only once. Now, I consider myself especially gifted for never having forgotten an anniversary, but that's a lot of digits even for me. wink

Quote:
Other types of intelligence that impact piano playing would be ear/hearing ability (doesn't everyone know at least one person who's tone deaf?), fine motor skills (aren't some people just naturally more coordinated than others?). I'm sure there are many more aspects of intelligence that bear upon pianism and/or musicianship in general, this addresses the question at only a macro level. I can't imagine that you think everyone starts with the same intellectual abilities, the evidence to the contrary is everywhere. I would say that most people have superior ability in some aspects of intelligence

It seems what I'm saying is evolving as each person adds a great chunk to the thread -- which is, perhaps, why I like the discussion so much. I would probably have to say that there is a genetic factor involved, since I believe in the bio-psycho-social model of development. However, I do believe the genetic factors, for the majority of people, to be minimal, and couldn't possibly encompass the entire realm of "talent". (Based on most responses, I would say most people would disagree with that idea.) Secretariat, for example, won the Triple Crown for many reasons, one of which being that he had an abnormally large heart that pumped more blood through his body than a normal horse. But others had won the Triple Crown before, and as far as I know, all the previous records have been broken. So, it may have helped Secretariat win, but didn't help the others. Shouldn't that indicate that it wasn't necessarily a significant factor?

Originally Posted By: Old Man
Definitely TMI, but sometimes firsthand knowledge can be more convincing. Although I doubt that'll be true in this case.

I'm not saying it isn't intriguing evidence of something. But I think we'd have to study it longer to determine what factors were involved. Your argument suggests that, because you couldn't identify the variables involved, the answer was "talent". I am most assuredly not saying I can identify all of the variables. All I am saying is that I would want to rule all of them out before considering "talent". wink

Originally Posted By: hujidong
But if you dig deep enough you'll find coal, and if you polish it well enough you can make diamonds! It's all just guesses anyways.

I think the best argument against this so far has been: if you don't start with coal, you can't get a diamond. wink

Of course, we can now synthetically produce diamonds, but I'm not sure where that falls in piano playing. Perhaps, because we've now identified what technical elements are involved in playing, the "natural" or "innate" abilities of the learner are minimized?

Originally Posted By: JoelW
I'm convinced that even the most convincing neuroscientist in the world couldn't convince Derulux.

I'm convinced the most convincing neuroscientist in the world wouldn't try, and would enjoy exploring the scientific method with me -- unless, of course, they already knew the answer. In which case I'd probably bore them. smile


Old Man- thank you for the kind words. I do my best to avoid sounding trite, though I know I sometimes like to explore ideas that run contrary to convention or popular theory.

JoelW- Quite a few, actually. I've got 25 years of experience in the martial arts, and for the sake of brevity, I've learned something like 17 styles to date. Mostly Korean and Japanese. I've yet to conquer the Chinese arts-- which I would really like to do. They have always interested me. Are you familiar with any?

Originally Posted By: Mark C
We know that for a fact, because said person tried.

Mark, you're a neuro-nut? I had no idea! That's pretty cool, if true.. smile
Posted by: JoelW

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/05/13 09:58 PM

^ That might be the longest post on this entire site.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/05/13 10:06 PM

Aye, I did my best to cut it down. Apologies. I think I even lost track of what I was saying half way through. laugh
Posted by: Schubertslieder

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/05/13 10:18 PM

It was not long enough in my opinion. grin
Posted by: Old Man

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/06/13 01:10 PM

Ha, ha, I thought this thread was pronounced dead. Then Dr. Derulux returns to resuscitate it. crazy

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: Old Man
Yes. I think the human gestation period is approximately 9 months - give or take.
So, you are saying that, either you are a prodigy at birth or you are not? Unless I misunderstand you, I'm not even sure Kissin made the cutoff on that one.. wink

Yes. The assets are in place at birth. That's the definition of a prodigy. Obviously the assets must be deployed at some point (i.e. exposure to a piano, lessons, positive reinforcement from parents, etc.), but once deployed, the gift will quickly become apparent and the child will progress far more rapidly than a normal child.

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: Old Man
So Horowitz, Rubinstein, Ax, Perahia, Gould, Sokolov, Zimerman, etc. are simply products of "groupthink", or expert marketing? They're merely "famous"?? Surely you jest.
Not at all; I simply think it folly to believe that only those super-famous people are good at what they do--or are even the "best" at what they do. They are perceived as the best because they are the most well-known. And I'm not going to say they aren't darn good. They are. But there may be a complete unknown out there who's better.

I agree with you. In fact, there may be thousands who are as good or better, but haven't risen to the fore, and may never rise to the fore. I thought you were saying the famous ones were only famous, and were somehow undeserving. My misunderstanding.

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: Old Man
I'm a prime example. My oldest son graduated from U. of Chicago in physics, and was the first (maybe only) undergrad to be allowed to spend a year at CERN.
He's not the only one. I can name two others, one of which was my own cousin. He may, however, have been the first. That, I could not say. Incidentally, CERN also offers a summer research program for undergrads, but I don't include that because it doesn't sound like the same thing you're talking about. I'm assuming your son worked on the Higgs project? If so, that's very cool work, indeed. smile

Don't know about the Higgs project. This all happened in 1992. All I know is that UC told him that only grad students were allowed to go to CERN (a UC rule, not a CERN rule), but they wanted to make an exception in his case, and asked him if he was interested. Apparently he had uncovered various programming errors in some of the software written by his physicist professors. They were so grateful for rescuing their calculations that they wanted him doing the same thing at CERN. So I don't think they recruited him to work on the Higgs boson. They wanted his programming skills, so that they could focus on Higgs. Regardless, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that he never regretted accepting. (Plus, it helped him decide that he really didn't want a career in physics!) grin

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: Old Man
This personal example would seem to contradict nearly everything you've said. A kid with only above-average parents sails through math and science his entire life, with minimal study time, and minimal interest in the subject matter. Where exactly does all this hard work and ambition and nurturing fit into this equation?

I'm not sure that it does contradict anything I've said. (It may; I definitely have to concede that. I'm just not sure, so I'm continuing to discuss. smile ) I didn't study longer than an hour for any exam I ever took, college physics finals included. I suppose in that respect, I know exactly what your son experienced--or at least something very similar. But I did take a strong interest in "learning" from a very young age. So, whether it was an endeavor I particularly enjoyed or not, I tended to learn it. And much like anything else--the more you know, the stronger your foundation, the easier you learn future things. For me, I can say that I learned things faster as I got older because I had already learned the other things when I was younger, so that learning compounded. Perhaps a part of his interest was in an area that facilitated the particular learning which you have described -- software development is tied very closely to the subjects in which he excelled (in terms of which parts of the brain we use for those endeavors).

I think that this would be an interesting study to conduct, one in which I would even like to participate (though I think I might be slightly past the age at which I would be able to participate). smile

Aha! I didn't need to provide any personal example of my own, because you yourself are an example! "I didn't study longer than an hour for any exam I ever took, college physics finals included." Can't you see that you too are "gifted"? Most of us struggle with these subjects, and for many, it wouldn't matter if we studied for hours, days, weeks, or months. We might improve, but we will never be a physicist, a mathematician, etc., no matter how hard we work at it. It's not in our DNA.

I think the problem, Derulux, is that those who have a gift, whether in science, math, or music, have no idea they have a gift. It comes as naturally to them as walking, talking, or even breathing, so they don't see themselves as special, and figure it's all because they "worked so hard" at it. By your own admission you excelled at math and science without breaking a sweat.

At least now I think I better understand why you struggle with this concept of innate, natural born ability. Because of the relative ease with which you absorb math and science, you've wrongly attributed your facility to "hard work, ambition, etc.", and you're extrapolating that anyone could do the same.

But you'd be flat out wrong. We are not all born "Etch-A-Sketches", waiting to be scribbled on. A few lucky ones are actually born i-Pads! laugh
Posted by: ando

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/06/13 01:18 PM

Very well said, Old Man. thumb
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/06/13 10:14 PM

Originally Posted By: Old Man
Yes. The assets are in place at birth. That's the definition of a prodigy. Obviously the assets must be deployed at some point (i.e. exposure to a piano, lessons, positive reinforcement from parents, etc.), but once deployed, the gift will quickly become apparent and the child will progress far more rapidly than a normal child.

So, bearing this in mind, one would still be a prodigy even if their assets were never deployed? (If so, you might be swaying me to your side. I'd still want to figure out how we identify these prodigies, considering their output in the latter case would be less than prodigious. wink )

Quote:
Don't know about the Higgs project. This all happened in 1992. All I know is that UC told him that only grad students were allowed to go to CERN (a UC rule, not a CERN rule), but they wanted to make an exception in his case, and asked him if he was interested. Apparently he had uncovered various programming errors in some of the software written by his physicist professors. They were so grateful for rescuing their calculations that they wanted him doing the same thing at CERN. So I don't think they recruited him to work on the Higgs boson. They wanted his programming skills, so that they could focus on Higgs. Regardless, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that he never regretted accepting. (Plus, it helped him decide that he really didn't want a career in physics!) grin

Ah, then in that case, he certainly beat my cousin (2002). That's a really neat opportunity, and kudos to your son for finding the errors. If only he had been working on NASA's Mars Rover project a few years back... grin My cousin had the exact opposite experience -- went there for physics, and solidified his desire for that career. I really wish I could have gotten a chance to visit when he was there.. I think it would have been a really neat trip.

Quote:
Aha! I didn't need to provide any personal example of my own, because you yourself are an example! "I didn't study longer than an hour for any exam I ever took, college physics finals included." Can't you see that you too are "gifted"? Most of us struggle with these subjects, and for many, it wouldn't matter if we studied for hours, days, weeks, or months. We might improve, but we will never be a physicist, a mathematician, etc., no matter how hard we work at it. It's not in our DNA.

I think the problem, Derulux, is that those who have a gift, whether in science, math, or music, have no idea they have a gift. It comes as naturally to them as walking, talking, or even breathing, so they don't see themselves as special, and figure it's all because they "worked so hard" at it. By your own admission you excelled at math and science without breaking a sweat.

At least now I think I better understand why you struggle with this concept of innate, natural born ability. Because of the relative ease with which you absorb math and science, you've wrongly attributed your facility to "hard work, ambition, etc.", and you're extrapolating that anyone could do the same.

Yeah, I definitely don't consider myself all that special. I never found something I couldn't do, but I did find quite a few things I didn't want to put in the effort to achieve. So, when I see someone who is successful at a particular endeavor, I just see someone who put in the time to get there. And I do believe that if the information is presented in a way that one learns, then anyone can learn that information.

I think we've come far enough in piano pedagogy to be able to identify specifically what is happening at the keys to produce a certain technical feat and/or a certain sound. The first guys to do it had to do it based on their own intuition, but we can now teach it -- and I think that opens a lot of doors that may not have been open, say, before Liszt. So, in many respects, I think it "lowers the bar" so more people can accomplish those feats, but perhaps you are correct in saying there is still a bar and there are still people below that bar.

I wonder, then, what causes this bar to exist, and is there a way around it? In other words, is there a way to teach those below that bar to do what those above the bar can do? After all, there are people with severe disabilities who prove extremely able in certain areas.

Quote:
But you'd be flat out wrong. We are not all born "Etch-A-Sketches", waiting to be scribbled on. A few lucky ones are actually born i-Pads!

A very nice reference. smile I think someone tried to make a reference earlier using pianos, but I'm not sure it worked as well as this. Still, I've seen some pretty amazing things done on an Etch-A-Sketch.. wink

Incidentally, this reminds me of one of my favorite snippets of dialogue from "I, Robot".

Spooner: ...you are just a machine. An imitation of life. Can a robot write a symphony? Can a robot turn a canvas into a beautiful masterpiece?
Sonny: Can you?
Posted by: Ferdinand

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/07/13 12:36 AM

A poet's view

When Malindy Sings by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/07/13 01:51 AM

Originally Posted By: Ferdinand


Good morning. That is terribly beautiful. Doesn't change my point of view but it is terribly beautiful.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/07/13 01:46 PM

Originally Posted By: Me
I wonder, then, what causes this bar to exist, and is there a way around it? In other words, is there a way to teach those below that bar to do what those above the bar can do? After all, there are people with severe disabilities who prove extremely able in certain areas.

Sorry to continually resurrect this thread, but I imagine anyone reading it now is equally interested in this topic, or quite bored and has nothing better to do. wink I've been thinking a lot about this part of a conversation with Old Man, trying to relate it to something with which I'm familiar and have observed regularly. I came up with a classroom analogy.

When children go through the education system, they learn compounded information over time. Addition and subtraction lead to multiplication and division. Fractions. Decimals. Eventually algebra, trig, calculus, etc. When these children start on day one, they understand they will be given a grade A-F, and as long as they get a D, which is usually 65 and above, they can pass and move on to the next grade.

Unfortunately, what I see happening is this: a kid earns a B in 1st grade math, meaning he/she understands approximately 85% of the material. Then, they move on to 5th grade and get a C, or 75%. Then, they get to algebra, and because their foundation is rocky on only 75% understanding of previous material, they get a D, or 68%. Still good enough to pass, but they now understand only about 2/3 of the material. They move on to high school and take geometry or trig, and there they fail. Everyone looks at this kid and says, "Well, they weren't good at math."

I don't see it that way. I see a failure in 1st grade with that B, which compounded over time to create an unwinnable scenario. Look at it like this: you're trying to sail on course 270, but you're actually sailing on course 265. Without a course correction, you're in for a disaster. A few hundred yards through the water, and you're not that far off course. But a few days later, you're miles off course. And when you've traversed an entire ocean, you might hit a different continent.

So perhaps what everyone sees as "talent" is, to me, simply starting on the right course. But then there's the question of ship used-- if someone has a speed boat, they'll get there faster than a three-masted barque. Well, maybe, maybe not. The speed boat has to stop for gas, and there aren't many stops in the open ocean. To use another analogy: the tortoise and the hare.

This, of course, insinuates the "time" factor discussed earlier. But I'm not sure time is such a severely limiting factor. Sure, if you're off course, you have to make course corrections, and that takes time. But with our current understanding of the piano, it won't take decades to correct (if ever). We can say, with certainty, exactly what needs to be done to right the ship. So, a dedicated practitioner should be able to steer the boat in a different direction.

However, in terms of time, it will take someone on the wrong course much longer to reach the goal than someone who starts on the right course. So, if this is what is meant by "talent"--the ability to start and/or continue on the "right" course--then I would have to concede its existence. I didn't get that sense from the vast majority of responses, but Old Man's contributions have significantly changed my point of view (or at least my understanding of the arguments).
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/08/13 07:36 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux


When children go through the education system, they learn compounded information over time. Addition and subtraction lead to multiplication and division. Fractions. Decimals. Eventually algebra, trig, calculus, etc. When these children start on day one, they understand they will be given a grade A-F, and as long as they get a D, which is usually 65 and above, they can pass and move on to the next grade.

Unfortunately, what I see happening is this: a kid earns a B in 1st grade math, meaning he/she understands approximately 85% of the material. Then, they move on to 5th grade and get a C, or 75%. Then, they get to algebra, and because their foundation is rocky on only 75% understanding of previous material, they get a D, or 68%. Still good enough to pass, but they now understand only about 2/3 of the material. They move on to high school and take geometry or trig, and there they fail. Everyone looks at this kid and says, "Well, they weren't good at math."



That's not at all the way I remember what happened when I was in school. I remember that there tended to be strata of students, which were more or less aligned with the grading system. For example, I don't remember much of a drop-off among the kids who were B students initially - most of the time they remained pretty much B students throughout school. Sure, there would be occasional exceptions, but on average, kids stayed within their general performance level throughout school.

But of course, the kids who were not doing well in math usually wouldn't take the more advanced math electives, either. In the primitive school system I attended, there were only a few more advanced electives in science and math available, anyway, and the kids who weren't making good grades in general never took them.
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/08/13 08:41 AM

Originally Posted By: Old Man

I think the problem, Derulux, is that those who have a gift, whether in science, math, or music, have no idea they have a gift. It comes as naturally to them as walking, talking, or even breathing, so they don't see themselves as special, and figure it's all because they "worked so hard" at it. By your own admission you excelled at math and science without breaking a sweat.



That depends somewhat on the size of the community a gifted person might find themselves in. I know from experience that when it is small enough, you can stand out like a sore thumb.

I learned how to read music from a sibling when I was five years old, and it didn't seem like anything special. That is, it didn't until I freaked out my teacher at my second piano lesson. She had assigned the first little piece in the book during our first lesson a week earlier, and I played it fine. Then she said to I should learn the next piece for the next week's lesson. I said that I could already play it. She seemed dubious, so I showed her. Then I told her I could play through the whole book, and did so. And in my little 5-year-old kid way, I realized from her reaction that I had done something weird she had never seen before.

And that pretty much set the tone - in that small rural community, I was the freaky kid who played the piano too well. When it turned out that I also never needed to study in order to get straight A's, I was well and truly identified as being some totally strange person in that community. And I knew it (but didn't really understand it).

But you are right about the basic idea - the actual abilities aren't experienced as unusual to the person who has them. It's really only some kind of social context that can bring that awareness out.

For some, it's really hard to get the drift. I know of one middle-aged guy who only figured out why his outlook on everything was not in synch with "normal people" after he joined Mensa and discovered that there were other very smart people in the same boat (which, BTW, goes to show that being smart and being intelligent aren't the same thing).

Quote:

At least now I think I better understand why you struggle with this concept of innate, natural born ability. Because of the relative ease with which you absorb math and science, you've wrongly attributed your facility to "hard work, ambition, etc.", and you're extrapolating that anyone could do the same.


Bingo!!!
Posted by: Mwm

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/08/13 11:42 AM

Hey wr: I had exactly the same experience growing up. I have been able to sight read anything since I was five. Don't know how, just could. When I went to university, we had to take 'sight-reading' and 'sight-singing'. The teacher brought in students, who could not sight-read well, to watch me and another student who was as good as I was, sight-read music, as if that would help improve the other students sight-reading skills!

In return for my 'gift' of sight-reading, I find it extremely hard to memorize. I have to work for many months just to memorize a short, simple work. It would appear that I have no 'gift' for memorizing.
Posted by: Old Man

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/08/13 12:54 PM

Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Derulux

When children go through the education system, they learn compounded information over time. Addition and subtraction lead to multiplication and division. Fractions. Decimals. Eventually algebra, trig, calculus, etc. When these children start on day one, they understand they will be given a grade A-F, and as long as they get a D, which is usually 65 and above, they can pass and move on to the next grade.

Unfortunately, what I see happening is this: a kid earns a B in 1st grade math, meaning he/she understands approximately 85% of the material. Then, they move on to 5th grade and get a C, or 75%. Then, they get to algebra, and because their foundation is rocky on only 75% understanding of previous material, they get a D, or 68%. Still good enough to pass, but they now understand only about 2/3 of the material. They move on to high school and take geometry or trig, and there they fail. Everyone looks at this kid and says, "Well, they weren't good at math."

That's not at all the way I remember what happened when I was in school. I remember that there tended to be strata of students, which were more or less aligned with the grading system. For example, I don't remember much of a drop-off among the kids who were B students initially - most of the time they remained pretty much B students throughout school. Sure, there would be occasional exceptions, but on average, kids stayed within their general performance level throughout school.

My memory is the same as wr's.

First of all, children entering 1st grade are excited about going to school, and are overeager to please. They're not thinking about the grading system at all. They're searching for every opportunity to please their teacher and their parents by getting the best grades they can, and all the gold and silver stars (or yes, smiley faces) that come with it. The idea that kids in 1st or 2nd grade are trying to game the system by "just getting a passing grade" is patently ridiculous. (That comes later, in junior high. grin)

But as much as most young kids go out of their way to please, and to do their best, this may not be good enough. As wr says, the various natural gifts (i.e. talents) of a classroom of students will "more or less be aligned with the grading system." I don't think your "cumulative error" theory really has any relevance. I'm not saying it could never happen, but in general, kids who excelled in certain subjects in their early years will continue to do so throughout their education. And those who struggled will continue to struggle.

Derulux, you seem to yearn for some sort of "equality of potential" which simply doesn't exist. You'll have to shake your fist at Mother Nature, because there's no one else to blame. We are not all born with equal abilities, and to insist that we are is to ignore reality. And more important, it sets the bar so high for kids of lesser ability that they are doomed to repeated failure throughout their lives. Society's goal should not be to send every kid to college but to educate and/or train them to maximize the abilities they have, so they can be productive and self-sufficient.

Personally I think we have way too many colleges in this country. I would reduce the number to about 20-25% of the current total. Is that elitist? Damn straight. College should be an "elite" institution, so insisting that everyone must attend college will only ensure that American education continues its downward trajectory into mediocrity. Instead, the US needs to adopt a multi-track system similar to Germany's, where truly "no child is left behind", and where each person can maximize his or her unique talents, no matter how great or how modest.
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/09/13 07:46 AM

Originally Posted By: Mwm
Hey wr: I had exactly the same experience growing up. I have been able to sight read anything since I was five. Don't know how, just could. When I went to university, we had to take 'sight-reading' and 'sight-singing'. The teacher brought in students, who could not sight-read well, to watch me and another student who was as good as I was, sight-read music, as if that would help improve the other students sight-reading skills!

In return for my 'gift' of sight-reading, I find it extremely hard to memorize. I have to work for many months just to memorize a short, simple work. It would appear that I have no 'gift' for memorizing.



About the memorizing - me, too. Interesting how that works.

But part of the problem for me was that nobody ever taught me HOW to memorize, and it was only late in life that I found out there were actual techniques for it that people used. And by then, I didn't need to do it, so I haven't really spent much time on it.

But I had trouble memorizing other things, too, like poems, or lines in a play. On the other hand, I could retain all sorts of other information, and in some areas got a reputation as a person who remembered all sorts of arcane data. It is pretty strange, the memory thing.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/12/13 03:40 PM

Originally Posted By: Old Man
Instead, the US needs to adopt a multi-track system similar to Germany's, where truly "no child is left behind", and where each person can maximize his or her unique talents, no matter how great or how modest.


Good evening. I'd just like to point out that Germany's education policy has nothing whatsoever to do with a theory about the distribution of talent or abilities among individuals. It is derived from a view of the realities and the necessities of society, and that is all.
Posted by: Old Man

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/12/13 05:19 PM

Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: Old Man
Instead, the US needs to adopt a multi-track system similar to Germany's, where truly "no child is left behind", and where each person can maximize his or her unique talents, no matter how great or how modest.

Good evening. I'd just like to point out that Germany's education policy has nothing whatsoever to do with a theory about the distribution of talent or abilities among individuals. It is derived from a view of the realities and the necessities of society, and that is all.

???????

I thought that's what I was talking about -- the "realities and necessities of society". One of those "realities" is that we're not all the same. I don't understand your statement.
Posted by: Piano Doug

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/12/13 05:41 PM

Andorra, I don't understand your statement either. My understanding of the German education system was similar to this Wikipedia entry(for what it's worth):

"Tracking (education)

Tracking is separating pupils by academic ability into groups for all subjects or certain classes and curriculum within a school. . . Germany uses a strongly tracked system. In Germany, students' achievements in their last of generally four years of primary school determine the type of secondary school they will be permitted to attend, and therefore the type of education they will receive."
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/13/13 12:59 AM

Originally Posted By: Old Man
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: Old Man
Instead, the US needs to adopt a multi-track system similar to Germany's, where truly "no child is left behind", and where each person can maximize his or her unique talents, no matter how great or how modest.

Good evening. I'd just like to point out that Germany's education policy has nothing whatsoever to do with a theory about the distribution of talent or abilities among individuals. It is derived from a view of the realities and the necessities of society, and that is all.

???????

I thought that's what I was talking about -- the "realities and necessities of society". One of those "realities" is that we're not all the same. I don't understand your statement.

I think you're thinking of "front end" necessities, where he may be mentioning "back end" necessities. Inputs vs outputs. (Of course, I could be wrong -- not very familiar with Germany's education system. It just sounded that way to me.)
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/13/13 05:36 PM

Originally Posted By: Old Man
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: Old Man
Instead, the US needs to adopt a multi-track system similar to Germany's, where truly "no child is left behind", and where each person can maximize his or her unique talents, no matter how great or how modest.

Good evening. I'd just like to point out that Germany's education policy has nothing whatsoever to do with a theory about the distribution of talent or abilities among individuals. It is derived from a view of the realities and the necessities of society, and that is all.

???????

I thought that's what I was talking about -- the "realities and necessities of society". One of those "realities" is that we're not all the same. I don't understand your statement.


Good evening.

Quite exactly, whether we are all the same (or not) has nothing to do with the structure of education in Germany (or anywhere else, I think). I don't think that whether we are all the same or not has anything to do with "no child left behind" policy in the USA. I don't see why you bring these things into the discussion because they have nothing to do with questions of different talents or inborn abilities.
Posted by: Old Man

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/13/13 07:35 PM

Originally Posted By: landorrano

Good evening.

Quite exactly, whether we are all the same (or not) has nothing to do with the structure of education in Germany (or anywhere else, I think). I don't think that whether we are all the same or not has anything to do with "no child left behind" policy in the USA. I don't see why you bring these things into the discussion because they have nothing to do with questions of different talents or inborn abilities.

Good evening.

I think "these things" have quite a bit to do with questions of "different talents or inborn abilities". It's called "options". And I happen to believe that the US, unlike Germany, has done a miserable job of providing a variety of educational options and pathways. I couldn't care less about the motivation behind Germany's policies. The important thing is that a structure is in place that values all of its citizens, and allows each person to progress in a way that suits his or her abilities and desires.

As far as NCLB goes, I actually do suspect the motivations of policy makers here in America. Because it's based on the fallacious notion that "every child can succeed" if only teachers would teach better. No one believes in teacher accountability more than I do, but teachers cannot control the raw material that is presented to them. And the mantra that every kid must attend college is even more ludicrous. Yet that is the message that every child receives: Go to college, or you will be deemed worthless. And if you can't read, or add and subtract, or speak English by the time you arrive at college? No problem. We will "remediate" you (or inflate your grades). How enlightened!
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/16/13 02:46 PM

I am not resurrecting the thread to introduce new arguments, but to supply an article I just read that, ironically enough, was published on the 13th and addresses many of the topics we've discussed over the last few weeks.

For anyone interested, a copy is here:
http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2013/05/of-mice-and-men.html

The article discusses genetically identical mice, and how a combination of the mice's choices through life, their environment, and the universe's "accidents" created and shaped the abilities of each mouse, and how choice, in particular, was far more significant than genetic makeup. A very interesting read for anyone, well, interested.. smile
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/16/13 03:57 PM

Good evening. It is evident that the authors of the study were inspired by your posts!
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/16/13 04:13 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
The article discusses genetically identical mice, and how a combination of the mice's choices through life, their environment, and the universe's "accidents" created and shaped the abilities of each mouse, and how choice, in particular, was far more significant than genetic makeup. A very interesting read for anyone, well, interested.. smile
If one is comparing mice that are genetically the same, then it seems obvious that environment and choices would be far more significant.

This also seems to have little to do with any debate about how important genes are where two mice(or people) are genetically unequal. To do a study relevant to the discussion on this thread I think the researchers would have to make environment and choices the same and compare the results of mice with different genetic capabilities.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/16/13 05:14 PM

I see what you mean. This shows the limits of a "No mouse left behind" policy!
Posted by: Old Man

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/16/13 05:38 PM

Originally Posted By: landorrano
I see what you mean. This shows the limits of a "No mouse left behind" policy!

ha And the NCLB policy is equally limited. smile

And just as I was about to say that it's too bad we can't test for the innate musical ability of mice . . .

I remembered a Bob and Ray routine. Ray plays a general who enters his 88 mice in a military base talent show, and assigns each mouse to a key on the piano. And once he has them all lined up, he directs them in this honky tonk piano piece that's absolutely hysterical. IMHO, the funniest 2 men to ever grace the planet. They were one of the few acts that would reduce Johnny Carson to tears every time.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/16/13 05:51 PM

Originally Posted By: Old Man

And the NCLB policy is equally limited. smile


Posted by: Damon

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/16/13 06:16 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux

The article discusses genetically identical mice, and how a combination of the mice's choices through life, their environment, and the universe's "accidents" created and shaped the abilities of each mouse, and how choice, in particular, was far more significant than genetic makeup.


Can one of them play the piano?
Posted by: jdw

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/16/13 08:24 PM

Another relevant article has been posted in the thread "Do Musicians Have Different Brains?"

But I'll admit I haven't read this whole thread--maybe that stuff has been discussed here already.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/16/13 11:35 PM

Originally Posted By: landorrano
Good evening. It is evident that the authors of the study were inspired by your posts!

My God, if only I had that much influence! laugh

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
If one is comparing mice that are genetically the same, then it seems obvious that environment and choices would be far more significant.

This also seems to have little to do with any debate about how important genes are where two mice(or people) are genetically unequal. To do a study relevant to the discussion on this thread I think the researchers would have to make environment and choices the same and compare the results of mice with different genetic capabilities.

I think the discussion of genetically identical individuals is entirely relevant. In fact, we even discussed the idea of performing very similar studies on humans.

That said, I have been persuaded that genetic differences may represent a significant limiting factor. I do believe that I, at least, tried to address the idea of a "handicap" or a "disability" by ruling it out of the discussion; but I'm not sure that idea took in everyone's minds and arguments. Be that as it may, I wasn't really trying to rekindle anything .. just sharing a very interesting read. smile

Originally Posted By: Damon
Can one of them play the piano?

Man, if they can, I want exclusive rights.. grin
Posted by: chopin_r_us

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/17/13 01:16 AM

Originally Posted By: jdw
Another relevant article has been posted in the thread "Do Musicians Have Different Brains?"

But I'll admit I haven't read this whole thread--maybe that stuff has been discussed here already.
From that article:

'This expertise in fine finger control
has a correlate in the brain. A morphometric
study revealed that the intrasculcal length of the precentral
gyrus (ILPG), a marker for the cortical motor
hand area, is longer in keyboard players relative to
non-musician controls. Although it is possible to
propose that individuals born with a longer ILPG
will have greater aptitude for playing the keyboard
compared with those with a shorter ILPG; the association
between ILPG and the age at which training
commenced suggests that anatomical differences in
motor cortex are the result, not the cause of learning.'
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/17/13 03:05 AM

Yeah, you've to love human beings, always comparing our gyrus to the next, to see who's got the longest!

Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
the cortical motor hand area


As said the virtuoso, "Why Madame, whatever makes you think that I play with my hands?"
Posted by: keystring

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/17/13 05:04 AM

Originally Posted By: Old Man
These children are quickly recognized, because you simply have to give them a piano, and a little guidance, and they take off like rockets.

To be quickly recognized, there has to be someone who knows enough to recognize them. They also have to have a piano, or there is nothing to recognize. If these children were to be brought to a piano, and on the very day that they encounter a piano for the first time, someone was at hand to recognize them, would they be able to do anything recognizeable? That piano has to be there for them. And the "little guidance" needs to be proper guidance, and not nonsense.

Of course each person is born with a set of innate abilities or potential, and is wired toward this or that --- the world of sound, the world of the visual, the world of scientific exploration. But opportunity must be present too. And the right guidance, for long enough.

In regards to the OP, wherever you are now, whatever you can and cannot do, that has to be dealt with by someone who knows what he's doing combined with your effort. I assume that what you want to do is to learn to play the piano very well, and are calling that "virtuoso technique".

(I've been reading this thread from the beginning after starting at the end, to get a handle on it, and got stuck on the present post in regards to which to respond to.)
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/17/13 05:54 AM

Originally Posted By: keystring


Of course each person is born with a set of innate abilities or potential, and is wired toward this or that --- the world of sound, the world of the visual, the world of scientific exploration.


Good morning. I'd just like to point out that it is exactly this "of course" that has been the subject of disagreement in this thread. That each individual is born "wired" toward this or that, visual or sound or science, is an idea that is erroneous, "of course grin "
Posted by: keystring

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/17/13 06:32 AM

Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: keystring


Of course each person is born with a set of innate abilities or potential, and is wired toward this or that --- the world of sound, the world of the visual, the world of scientific exploration.


Good morning. I'd just like to point out that it is exactly this "of course" that has been the subject of disagreement in this thread. That each individual is born "wired" toward this or that, visual or sound or science, is an idea that is erroneous, "of course

You have quoted a portion of what I wrote, and that distorts the message. I do know what was discussed, since I responded to it. (I mentioned about reading through the whole thread.) To understand what I'm saying (then you can respond to what I'm saying), please read the entire post. Thx. smile
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/17/13 08:45 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
I am not resurrecting the thread to introduce new arguments, but to supply an article I just read that, ironically enough, was published on the 13th and addresses many of the topics we've discussed over the last few weeks.

For anyone interested, a copy is here:
http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2013/05/of-mice-and-men.html

The article discusses genetically identical mice, and how a combination of the mice's choices through life, their environment, and the universe's "accidents" created and shaped the abilities of each mouse, and how choice, in particular, was far more significant than genetic makeup. A very interesting read for anyone, well, interested.. smile


That blog entry (it's not an article) doesn't focus on "choice", but on "chance". To me, that's a pretty big difference.

It seems to me that what is being discussed is a sort of "butterfly effect". In other words, very tiny variations in the mouse's environment early on, perhaps ones due to chance, can eventually have quite significant results, regardless of genetic material. It could be really just be pointing to certain kinds of environmental variables that simply have been downplayed or overlooked previously.
Posted by: mermilylumpkin

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/17/13 10:51 AM

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

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

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

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/17/13 12:24 PM

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

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

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

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/17/13 12:37 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
....success is determined by the willingness to continue long after everyone else has stopped trying....

Indeed -- provided you have the talent. grin

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

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

He who hesitates is lost.
Look before you leap.

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

Or simply, know thyself.
Posted by: Old Man

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/17/13 12:46 PM

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

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

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

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

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/17/13 12:58 PM

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

Choose your parents carefully if you want to become a top physicist, or mathematician, or even.....pianist/musician.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/17/13 01:23 PM

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


Except that that too makes no sense !
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/17/13 01:25 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux


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


There's Philadelphia pride for you!

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/17/13 01:37 PM

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

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/17/13 01:43 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Derulux
....success is determined by the willingness to continue long after everyone else has stopped trying....

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



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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/17/13 01:59 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Derulux
....success is determined by the willingness to continue long after everyone else has stopped trying....

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

Have we met before? grin

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

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

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

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

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


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


Except that that too makes no sense !

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

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

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

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

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/17/13 03:38 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux


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



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

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

Otherwise, everyone who practises 4-6 hours/day from the age of four under a good teacher will be world-class virtuosi. But everyone who's ever entered a music conservatory will know of students who work much harder than anyone else, yet achieve next to nothing. Read Brenda Lucas Ogdon's book 'Virtuoso" about her late husband - there's as much about her as her husband in it, in fact - and you'll appreciate the gulf between genius and mediocrity, which is entirely genetically determined.
Posted by: Old Man

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/17/13 03:47 PM

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

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

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

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

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

Not! grin

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

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

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

Then get out of the way, and leave the rest to them.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/17/13 04:58 PM

Originally Posted By: bennevis
There are plenty of people around who cannot grasp the logic of this even today, because their brains can't understand how this works.


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

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


... the (piano) world !!!!
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/17/13 05:22 PM

Originally Posted By: bennevis

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

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

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/17/13 05:32 PM

Originally Posted By: landorrano


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


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


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

What on earth (or space, or heaven) would he think about the current obsession with the Higgs boson? wink
Posted by: mermilylumpkin

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/17/13 07:55 PM

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

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

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

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

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

Not! grin

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

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


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

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

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

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 02:04 AM

Originally Posted By: Old Man

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 02:48 AM

Originally Posted By: Old Man

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

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 03:38 AM

Good morning. In another (unrelated) thread I noticed that a piano teacher wrote
Quote:
I only send the most talented students to Bach Regionals


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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 05:06 AM

There is one way to convinced the sceptics that talent is irrelevant and that should be fairly obvious. If you think that with the right preparation anyone could play to the standard of say Kissin, go ahead and prove it - you can have as much time as you want. (That means not just playing hard stuff, but playing it at the highest level technically and artistically.)
Posted by: chopin_r_us

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 05:25 AM

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 05:30 AM

There's a great movie from the 80s, a Belgian movie if I remember correctly. Le Maître de musique, the Music Teacher, "starring" none less than José Van Dam.

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 05:38 AM

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

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

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

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

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

Not! grin

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 05:48 AM

Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: Old Man

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

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


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

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 06:10 AM

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



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

Quote:


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

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



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

Quote:


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


Some kind of emotional investment in the subject matter may be one reason people get wound up, but I think that, as often as not, it's much more about other stuff - such as perceived tone, or what appears to be bad logic, or past history. Lots of factors come into play, and one's emotional investment in the actual subject is just one of them. In my observation, it's definitely not a requirement for heated exchanges.
Posted by: Michael_99

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 06:14 AM

Derulux, I have read your post, here:

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

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

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

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

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

________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

or

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

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

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

Posted by: Michael_99

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 06:42 AM

Old Man, I have read your post, here:

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

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

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

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

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



_________________________________________

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

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

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



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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 07:12 AM

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



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

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

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

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

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 07:17 AM

Originally Posted By: Michael_99
Talent is useless if there is no drive to harness the talent.


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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 07:58 AM

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 09:40 AM

Originally Posted By: wr

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

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

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 09:42 AM

Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
Originally Posted By: Old Man

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

ha Touche! OK, no more "personal" crap from me.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 10:29 AM

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


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

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

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 10:50 AM

Originally Posted By: wr
I think it is absurd to make the argument that that kid merely worked harder.


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

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

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 11:10 AM

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

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

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

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

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

Not! grin

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

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


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

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

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

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


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






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

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

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


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

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 11:12 AM

Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: keystring
[quote=Old Man]
I think that's demonstrably false. The fact that there are examples of kids who start piano at age 5, are playing with orchestras at 10, attending conservatory at 12, etc., etc., is evidence that something innate is at play. ....

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

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


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

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 11:14 AM

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


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

ha OK, put up your dukes!

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

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

And there are many more of these "hypotheticals".

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 11:27 AM

Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
Originally Posted By: Old Man

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


You had a paper bag!? We were raised in a lake!
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 11:28 AM

Originally Posted By: Old Man


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


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

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


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


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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 12:00 PM

Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
Originally Posted By: Old Man

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


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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 12:16 PM

Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
Originally Posted By: Old Man

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


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


Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 07:45 PM

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin

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


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

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

Quote:


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



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

Quote:


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 08:11 PM

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
To me, the reason why certain kids show amazing talent at an early age is because certain kids have an uncanny and uncommon interest and curiosity and obsession with music that results in them pursuing it with a fervor that typical kids do not.


It could be that you have just defined talent. The later a child displays an interest, the less talented they become. Or not.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/18/13 08:32 PM

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

The concordance between their eventual outcomes in terms of how they end up as adults - educational standard, occupation, social standing, income etc within their community etc - is quite uncanny. As are their IQs, their preferences in music, their hobbies.....
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/19/13 03:48 AM

Originally Posted By: wr
Clearly, many people really like the idea that anybody can turn into a Beethoven or Michelangelo if they only try hard enough.


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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/19/13 05:20 AM

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


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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/19/13 06:25 AM

"If there is some good in me, it is because I was born in the subtle atmosphere of your country of Arezzo. Along with the milk of my nurse I received the knack of handling chisel and hammer, with which I make my figures."

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/19/13 06:37 AM

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

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


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

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

No, life isn't fair - not just in where you are born, and how you were brought up, but also in the genes you've been given.
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/19/13 06:42 AM

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


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


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

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/19/13 06:46 AM

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


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


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

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




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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/19/13 08:29 AM

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/19/13 12:07 PM

Originally Posted By: wr

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




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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/19/13 12:55 PM

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


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


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

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



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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/19/13 05:25 PM

Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: landorrano


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


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


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

What on earth (or space, or heaven) would he think about the current obsession with the Higgs boson? wink

I believe it's one of those things where we can't explain it yet, so we pick this "unknown thing" that "changes constantly" and "can't be observed" or it becomes "one thing and not the other". Actually, I think it's very similar to the "talent" debate that raged for about a month in here.. smile

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


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

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

Originally Posted By: drumour
There is one way to convinced the sceptics that talent is irrelevant and that should be fairly obvious. If you think that with the right preparation anyone could play to the standard of say Kissin, go ahead and prove it - you can have as much time as you want. (That means not just playing hard stuff, but playing it at the highest level technically and artistically.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You had water???

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

I believe, sir, that it is, "Fashca."
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/20/13 08:00 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux

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

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

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



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

Quote:



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

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

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

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



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

Quote:


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



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

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

Quote:


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

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



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

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/20/13 09:25 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/20/13 01:26 PM

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

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

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

I am full of surprises. smile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man, that was a long-winded explanation to get that one sentence out.. haha laugh
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/20/13 01:33 PM

Can we begin a tangent about the theory of marginal value? I'd like to debunk that one too.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/20/13 01:48 PM

Go ahead, I wouldn't mind hearing it. smile
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/20/13 02:20 PM

On second thought I'd better not, I'm afraid of getting smacked by Joel. smile
Posted by: chopin_r_us

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/20/13 02:34 PM

Copulation time in Dung Flies

The MVT [marginal value theory] can be applied to situations other than foraging in which animals experience diminished returns. Consider, for example, the mating copulation duration of the yellow dung fly. In the dung fly mating system, males gather on fresh cow droppings and wait for females to arrive in smaller groups to lay their eggs. Males must compete with each other for the chance to mate with arriving females—sometimes one male will kick another male off of a female and take over mating with the female mid-copulation. In this instance, the second male fertilizes about 80% of the eggs.[7] Thus, after a male has mated with a female he guards her so that no other males will have the opportunity to mate with her and displace his sperm before she lays her eggs. After the female lays her eggs, the male must take the time to search for another female before he is able to copulate again.

The question, then, is how long the dung fly should spend copulating with each female. On one hand, the longer a male dung fly copulates the more eggs he can fertilize. However, the benefits of extra copulation time diminish quickly, as the male loses the chance to find another female during long copulations. The MVT predicts that the optimal copulation time is just long enough to fertilize about 80% of the eggs; after this time, the rewards are much smaller and are not worth missing out on another mate.[7] This predicted value for copulation time, 40 minutes, is very close to the average observed value, 36 minutes.
Posted by: Old Man

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/20/13 02:46 PM

Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
Copulation time in Dung Flies

The MVT [marginal value theory] can be applied to situations other than foraging in which animals experience diminished returns. Consider, for example, the mating copulation duration of the yellow dung fly. In the dung fly mating system, males gather on fresh cow droppings and wait for females to arrive in smaller groups to lay their eggs. Males must compete with each other for the chance to mate with arriving females—sometimes one male will kick another male off of a female and take over mating with the female mid-copulation. In this instance, the second male fertilizes about 80% of the eggs.[7] Thus, after a male has mated with a female he guards her so that no other males will have the opportunity to mate with her and displace his sperm before she lays her eggs. After the female lays her eggs, the male must take the time to search for another female before he is able to copulate again.

The question, then, is how long the dung fly should spend copulating with each female. On one hand, the longer a male dung fly copulates the more eggs he can fertilize. However, the benefits of extra copulation time diminish quickly, as the male loses the chance to find another female during long copulations. The MVT predicts that the optimal copulation time is just long enough to fertilize about 80% of the eggs; after this time, the rewards are much smaller and are not worth missing out on another mate.[7] This predicted value for copulation time, 40 minutes, is very close to the average observed value, 36 minutes.

Beautifully stated! Well, in terms of piano, my 36 minutes was up about 45 years ago.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/20/13 02:53 PM

So what you're saying is that the flies are missing out on 4 minutes of copulation time? grin
Posted by: chopin_r_us

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/20/13 02:58 PM

Originally Posted By: Old Man

Beautifully stated! Well, in terms of piano, my 36 minutes was up about 45 years ago.
Hey, thank Wikipedia! I'm just the vehicle.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/20/13 03:11 PM

A vehicule? You're an oracle!
Posted by: chopin_r_us

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/20/13 03:31 PM

Oracles were thought to be portals through which the gods spoke directly to people. In this sense they were different from seers (manteis, μάντεις) who interpreted signs sent by the gods through bird signs, animal entrails, and other various methods.

Hmm, I guess you're right. In the beginning was the word, and the word was Wiki!
Posted by: mermilylumpkin

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/20/13 03:36 PM

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


This is a great example of music-learning as a conscientious learning process rather than an innate thing that you just somehow "get" incrementally if you have the requisite talent.

Anyway, people are coming up with all of these counterexamples to try and prove exactly what it is that is innate that you need to achieve mastery. So far the examples have been like, "Well, obviously you can't pick a random dude off the street and make him into a virtuoso!" (No, we agree on this) "Well, the guy can't spend 18 hours a day practicing in counter productive ways, e.g. starting off with Rachmaninoff!" (We agree on this too.) "Well, even if you hurled all the resources and teachers Mozart had at some random person, he wouldn't become a virtuoso talent." (Yes, we agree on that too - that a fundamentally uninterested random guy on the street would NOT become Mozart. This is not a difficult argument to make.) I don't know why we assume that the act of practicing productively is innate.

I think at this point, naysayers would probably suggest that small children don't make conscientious decisions about how to use their practice time; thus conscientious, well-planned practice time (sustained over a long period of time I should add) must not be the silver bullet if you will -- It doesn't account for child prodigies. This would be a strong point because children't AREN'T metacognitive about what they are learning and how they are learning. I would (again) point to the interest/obsession argument, which is that child prodigies all tend to be inordinately interested in music, spend inordinate time practicing music due to their inordinate interest, and probably learn inordinately efficient ways to learn music due to the exceptional neuroplasticity of children in the window of 2 - 10 years old. We can all think of lots of four year olds we know that are horrible at playing the piano. Can anyone find any examples of four year olds who by their own volition play for, say, 4 hours per day, who are horrible at it (after, say, 5 years)? If anyone can find that counterexample, then I really would officially lay my argument to rest. That would be enough.

Anyway, I'm more interested at this point in finding out what the particularly quality of mind it is that people think it is which is innate to musical talent? Can we isolate it and say exactly what it is and how it is measured? Like besides saying it is the thing that age 4 Martha Argerich had - What exactly is the thing? (Does that question make sense?)
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/20/13 03:37 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
So what you're saying is that the flies are missing out on 4 minutes of copulation time? grin


An economising fly can put those 4 minutes in a savings account and when he has enough of them get an extra turn. Heck, that's what I do!
Posted by: Old Man

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/20/13 03:41 PM

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

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

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

Nope, you didn't misunderstand. I just screwed it up even more. Final edit: You cannot simply "choose" to play the piano at a level comparable to a pianist like Argerich or Perahia.

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: Old Man

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

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

So, if I would only "learn how to learn", all would be well? That's the magic formula?

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

Really? So if only I had learned how to learn differential calculus and organic chemistry, I could've gone to medical school after all? And if I had only learned how to learn to play chess, I could kick Garry Kasparov's ass? Who knew????

Just curious, however. Who exactly passed this magic formula on to you?

Never mind. Rhetorical question. I think I may know.

Click to reveal..
Mother Nature!! laugh yippie
Posted by: mermilylumpkin

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/20/13 03:46 PM

Originally Posted By: Old Man

Really? So if only I had learned how to learn differential calculus and organic chemistry, I could've gone to medical school after all? And if I had only learned how to learn to play chess, I could kick Garry Kasparov's ass? Who knew????

Just curious, however. Who exactly passed this magic formula on to you?


But that's just the thing -- It's just a lot of sarcastic replies to something that's an actual point, and people write journal articles about it and you can even look up the wikipedia article on it if you want ("metacognition"). If it's just a silly conversation for sport huffing and puffing is fine, but you should know that a lot of neuroscience and pedagogy research actually points to the primacy of metacognitive skills, or analyzing and adjusting the way we learn. If you disagree with the notion personally that's fine, but that doesn't mean it's ridiculous. It's sort of an actual thing you can find all over Google Scholar if you are inclined. Just FYI :-)

I'd argue, that sadly, yes, maybe you could have gone head to head with Kasparov if you engaged in some serious, deep, impassioned learning about chess, for a long period of time and especially from a young age. Sadly because I hope it's a joke and not something that you really wanted for yourself. It's sad not to pursue something because you're convinced in advance that you won't be enough. And on the flip side, I think it's flattering to some people to think that most other people aren't enough but because of an in-born gift they, exceptionally, are. I guess that's going to touch a nerve, but it might as well be said.
Posted by: Old Man

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/20/13 04:03 PM

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
Originally Posted By: Old Man

Really? So if only I had learned how to learn differential calculus and organic chemistry, I could've gone to medical school after all? And if I had only learned how to learn to play chess, I could kick Garry Kasparov's ass? Who knew????

Just curious, however. Who exactly passed this magic formula on to you?

But that's just the thing -- It's just a lot of sarcastic replies to something that's an actual point, and people write journal articles about it and you can even look up the wikipedia article on it if you want ("metacognition"). If it's just a silly conversation for sport huffing and puffing is fine, but you should know that a lot of neuroscience and pedagogy research actually points to the primacy of metacognitive skills, or analyzing and adjusting the way we learn. If you disagree with the notion personally that's fine, but that doesn't mean it's ridiculous. It's sort of an actual thing you can find all over Google Scholar if you are inclined. Just FYI :-)

Wow, I certainly hope Derulux doesn't interpret my "tweaking" as sarcasm, huffing and puffing, etc.! I had no idea that my attempt to add a little levity to this ponderous discussion would result in such a scolding. That's the last time I try that!

I guess it's time to hit the metacognition books. laugh
Posted by: mermilylumpkin

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/20/13 04:07 PM

Sorry :-) I don't mean to assign something that you didn't intend. Please overlook my remarks about huffing and puffing. I just was trying to say that it actually is a real point.

Sorry, I didn't mean to put downer-ness on the fun :-) I won't scold you. I guess I take it over seriously myself.
Posted by: Old Man

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/20/13 04:28 PM

Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
Sorry :-) I don't mean to assign something that you didn't intend. Please overlook my remarks about huffing and puffing. I just was trying to say that it actually is a real point.

Sorry, I didn't mean to put downer-ness on the fun :-) I won't scold you. I guess I take it over seriously myself.

Ha, ha, no apologies, please. smile This is your profession, and I understand why you feel strongly about it. I'm just a business IT schlub, so I have no knowledge of the social and/or behavioral sciences. (OK, make that ANY sciences.) But I do know about "metadata" - data about data - so I assume they're analogous terms.

And we all need a barometer of how our posts are being interpreted, so if you thought I sounded sarcastic, I'm sure others did too. Calibrating tone in this inadequate medium is a tricky process, so thanks for the feedback! smile
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/20/13 04:47 PM

Originally Posted By: Old Man
Nope, you didn't misunderstand. I just screwed it up even more. Final edit: You cannot simply "choose" to play the piano at a level comparable to a pianist like Argerich or Perahia.

Ah! Got it. I agree; that type of choice would take the process right out of the equation. What we can do is choose to do what it takes to get to that level, which is a process-based choice, and one that most people don't make consciously.

In other words, I hear people say all the time, "I want to play like [pick-a-pianist]!" But when you show them how to practice to get to that level, and what they have to do, they suddenly don't have the interest or desire to do it, and so they don't do it. This problem is compounded for anyone who already "knows how to play," because it usually requires a complete reconstruction of how to think about approaching the piano. And most people, especially adults, don't like to change the way they think.

Quote:
So, if I would only "learn how to learn", all would be well? That's the magic formula?

I'm not sure that it's a magic formula, or even the sole ingredient, but I would argue that if you're trying to build an ocean, water is an important component. wink

But in all seriousness, I believe very strongly that the two most important ingredients are process and desire. If you have one, but not the other, you won't get where you want to go. Or worse, you may actually desire a process that takes you farther away from your goal. But if you mold your desire into a love of the process that takes you where you want to go, then you will get there.

Quote:
Really? So if only I had learned how to learn differential calculus and organic chemistry, I could've gone to medical school after all? And if I had only learned how to learn to play chess, I could kick Garry Kasparov's ass? Who knew????

Nope. Starting with diffy-q and org is way to late. You've already cemented in your process of learning information. For most people, by the time they learn these subjects in late high school or undergrad, they've had anywhere from 15-20 years of "how to learn" experience to cement their learning processes. To develop a love of learning in someone is difficult, especially the older they get. To develop a love of learning everything (not just the "important takeaways") is nearly impossible.

Take this to life and the piano. I love puzzles. Love them. I absolutely love figuring out cyphers and codes, and anything that is visual-spatial. So, is there any surprise that I can recognize patterns of notes on the page faster than most people (even though I'm probably in the bottom half of all musicians for "music theory"), when I spend so much of my time away from the piano working on that same exact process/task? Or that I choose to use that basis of knowledge in my approach to the piano? There is a very famous martial arts quote that Jackie Chan reiterated in the latest "Karate Kid". He said, "Everything is kung fu." I expand that: everything is everything. Learning how to pick up a cup helps to teach you the fine motor skills in the hand necessary to play the piano. Typing on a keyboard (technique). Playing a round of golf (grip vs squeeze/tension). Learning to walk (body mapping). Remembering patterns/images (visual-spatial, "notes"). Every single thing we do impacts every single other thing we do.

Case in point: I bet, when you type, you rest your wrists on the keyboard/table. Or you grip your mouse the same way, and use your fingers only to manipulate it, rather than your whole arm. wink


I am curious, though.. how do you do that "click to reveal" thing? I usually use the quick reply.. is it an option in the full reply?

Quote:
Wow, I certainly hope Derulux doesn't interpret my "tweaking" as sarcasm, huffing and puffing, etc.! I had no idea that my attempt to add a little levity to this ponderous discussion would result in such a scolding.

No worries on my end! grin

Quote:
And we all need a barometer of how our posts are being interpreted, so if you thought I sounded sarcastic, I'm sure others did too. Calibrating tone in this inadequate medium is a tricky process, so thanks for the feedback!

I always assume that the person I'm speaking with didn't intend any insult. I think that way because I don't intend any insult. So, perhaps what would work best for me would be to do something like this:

[insult]You're a jerk![/insult] laugh
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/20/13 07:37 PM

Quote:


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

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



Prepared to be even more amazed...

I think that, for some people, learning how to play piano is quite a bit different than learning how to draw stick figures. I am not going to go into all of the myriad details why. But I will point out one thing about it that is relevant to this thread. And that is that it is reasonable to assume that a person with the musical genetic structure pointed out in the Finnish study of inheritable musical ability will find that learning some aspects of music is a different process than learning to, say, draw stick figures. It is quite likely that learning musical things feels more natural to them than drawing stick figures feels, as if they have some mysterious affinity for music, but not for drawing.

Quote:



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

I am full of surprises. smile

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

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



Thanks for reminding me of why I have PMs turned off. If what you have to say can't be said in the public thread, I don't want to hear it.

Quote:


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

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



Since we were discussing ability, and not fame, there's no reason I can see that Old Man would have suddenly changed the focus to be about fame, with no warning. But if you want to talk about fame, that's fine - why not start a new thread about it?
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/20/13 10:37 PM

Originally Posted By: wr
Prepared to be even more amazed...

I think that, for some people, learning how to play piano is quite a bit different than learning how to draw stick figures. I am not going to go into all of the myriad details why. But I will point out one thing about it that is relevant to this thread. And that is that it is reasonable to assume that a person with the musical genetic structure pointed out in the Finnish study of inheritable musical ability will find that learning some aspects of music is a different process than learning to, say, draw stick figures. It is quite likely that learning musical things feels more natural to them than drawing stick figures feels, as if they have some mysterious affinity for music, but not for drawing.

I think I find my amazement growing by the word. laugh

If we were to talk about how the brain processes information, we could have a strong argument for music being different from other pursuits. But I'm not interested so much in that, as in the process the human being utilizes to learn that information. In other words, what the person actively chooses to process.

Originally Posted By: wr
Thanks for reminding me of why I have PMs turned off. If what you have to say can't be said in the public thread, I don't want to hear it.

I can say it in public. Sometimes, it's simply a matter of comfort with the information that is going to be disclosed. (In other words, "It's not you; it's me.") wink

Quote:
Since we were discussing ability, and not fame, there's no reason I can see that Old Man would have suddenly changed the focus to be about fame, with no warning. But if you want to talk about fame, that's fine - why not start a new thread about it?

Don't need to. Old Man cleared up perfectly what it was he meant -- and it was something entirely different from either of my initial thoughts. smile
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/21/13 04:07 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
And if I had only learned how to learn to play chess, I could kick Garry Kasparov's ass? Who knew????



Good morning. Does anyone know the Austrian author Stefan Zweig?
Posted by: bennevis

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/21/13 05:29 AM

Maybe we should all get back to basics (as a politician would say grin).

If one denies the existence of innate talent, it would mean that if a child does brilliantly at, say, maths at school, it's because he/she puts in the hours, he's been taught well, and he likes the subject and therefore puts all his energy into it. Nothing to do with talent, or innate aptitude. Is that the drift that some people here are saying?

Because, conversely, if a child is poor at maths, he only has himself to blame (or his teacher isn't doing his job properly - but we wouldn't say that about the teachers, would we? wink ) - it's nothing genetic after all. Nothing to do with the fact that his brain isn't wired up in a manner that would make maths easily understandable - because that would be in his genes. He's obviously not working at it, not putting in the hours, or simply not studying the subject properly.
He obviously needs to buck up if he wants to work in CERN when he grows up......
Posted by: keystring

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/21/13 09:17 AM

Originally Posted By: Old Man

So, if I would only "learn how to learn", all would be well? That's the magic formula?

It is an elusive formula, and a powerful one. You may call it magic if you wish.

Originally Posted By: Old Man

Just curious, however. Who exactly passed this magic formula on to you?

I bet it was
Click to reveal..
experience
and
Click to reveal..
encounters of the right kind
Posted by: keystring

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/21/13 11:49 AM

Originally Posted By: wr

I think that, for some people, learning how to play piano is quite a bit different than learning how to draw stick figures. ..... It is quite likely that learning musical things feels more natural to them than drawing stick figures feels, as if they have some mysterious affinity for music, but not for drawing.

I can relate to what you are saying, both for myself, and in regards to my two children who are now adults. I also relate to what Derulux is saying, and believe it is very important and potent for anyone want to play (or achieve anything) well. People are wired differently, so that they are drawn to this or that, or relate more to a linear or global presentation, or oral or visual, or whatever - we are not mass produced empty bottles waiting to be filled the same way. So the teaching and learning strategies and environment etc. are also interacting back and forth with the individual person. But the exposure, environment, teaching also play a role. And while learning strategy might come from the individual and good instinct have an influence on that too. That's back to Derulux.

Derulux wrote some things which I find exceedingly important, and they are things that I have been after since learning of them. That is, that there are ways of learning and doing, strategies and approaches if you will, which will cause you to achieve things, and we can spend a lifetime being outside of that. I think, wr, that maybe your person with the natural feel will recognize and be able to draw things out of the teaching faster when there is teaching, because he already knows what to pay attention there. But some type of transmittal of knowledge has to be there. Can someone learn to read without learning the relationship of D to the key between two black keys? Well yes and know - I'll tell my weird story, which might give some different perspectives.

I learned two things in music when I was small, and then nothing for 40 years. We sang to a solfege board when I was about 8 so I internalized the structure of major and relative minor as sound. I knew where C was on a page and on the piano. Nothing else. I was given a recorder, a mouth organ, and then a little keyboard and finally a piano. No teacher, no lessons. I got an old book of sonatinas, mostly Clementi - Mr. Diatonic and "basic sonata form" himself. I sang my way up and down the sonatinas. Children absorb the structure of language and I absorbed things from this - and my relationship (playing, "reading", hearing) to music formed from this.

Decades later I took lessons for the first time on a new instrument, violin, and progressed quite fast until it all unraveled a year later. There were all kinds of twists and turns, false steps, interacting with teachers and musicians here and there. An old teacher in his 80's told me something which two more then said in different words. He said I'd have a hard time because of this combination: a strong instinct in music that grasped things instantly, and no foundations in anything for decades. This gave me a map: to seek the most fundamental things in everything (technique, theory, strategy) - I hypothesized that answers lay there. Strategy (Derulux) also fits in here.

I can give two concrete examples to make this more clear: reading and technique. Btw, I got a piano again around that time.

Reading: Here's what instinct + environment gave me. I was at home in diatonic (most) music which I perceived along the framework of major / natural minor scales (modal like the monks). I heard the music that I read. I anticipated where it would go, and had internalized patterns of all kinds. This came together with visual clues: a phrase repeated in the dominant key will have the same "shape" of notes. Modulations are pepperings of accidentals. I heard mostly along melodic lines, but also the harmonic implications (ti - do = V7-I). I had followed various voices in Bach chorales by ear even when little, delighting in what they did. Anyway, I had all that. My "reading" was a mix of scanning the page for general impressions (modulation starts here), anticipating where the music would go, reconstructing it, hearing it in relative pitch (It could be in C major and I'd play it in G major and never know). My way of "sight reading" consisted of hearing the music like a singer, and then reaching for the sound on whatever instrument - like the sound shines out in that vicinity.

You can do an awful lot with that, and I did. In fact, it took 3 years of lessons before figuring out through a chance event that I didn't "read" in any normal way. Ultimately it's a handicap. Derulux talks about willingness to change habit: that's where I'm at.

What I didn't have were these things: D is a pitch and note in and of itself. I perceived it as Do of D major, Sol of G major etc. It's like seeing the postman, the neighbour, Mary's husband, and never seeing him as always Charlie. I did not know that people see D on the page and reach for a spot on the piano that is D. I could play D7-G, E7-A, G7-C and they were "the same" even if I used them correctly in music. The lack of these are handicaps. Moreover, it's not just a matter of "learning" them. Your entire way of relating to notes and music has to change at the level of your senses and your physical actions. --- And when you do that, at first you will be clumsy, slow, awkward, because this is all foreign and undeveloped. You know you could "zip through" (diatonic) music, playing it fluently using your old tricks.

I am hoping to show how the two views both interrelate. My "instinct" gave me a lot of strategies and insights. But without exposure to true and tried things that work, I couldn't enter that world. At this point I can sight read piano music fairly well though it's still developing, and I wouldn't trade it for the old way for any amount of money.

Technique: 40 years ago I had a piano, envisioned the sound I wanted to hear, but never saw anyone play it. I reached for the sound any which way and was totally unaware physically. My staccato was crisp and sharp, the legatos were legato and climbed in crescendo for the music I played. That same staccato was tensed forearm and hot-stove pecking. The legato was fingers only with the hands drilling into the keyboard the louder it got. That spells limitation and injury. This is what instinct minus environmental support will get you. Essentially I have to relearn almost everything I have done on the piano physically. That means that when you visualize the music becoming louder, you don't allow the reflex to come in that says "tense and push" (or whatever), and you have to replace it with other reflex you have to learn. You may have to become very deliberate and mechanical to get at these new motions. Which you have to acquire somewhere, somehow.

The last bit is STRATEGY - another thing Derulux stressed. This involves how to acquire the skills, how to apply them to the music, and it also involves how to approach and develop a piece of music. Whatever your instincts have led you to do which work, keep it. If you are spinning your wheels, see if there is something you could be doing differently, or why your wheels might be spinning. You may not like what that entails, and my decide not to go through with it. But these things do exist.

Ultimately regardless of whether talent exists or not, whether someone has this talent, it still comes down to what we need to learn in order to play music well on the piano, and how we are going to learn it. That's why the debate is a bit puzzling. It's like everyone has been hypnotized, "When you hear 'virtuoso' - argue." Not everyone who writes "virtuoso" means it literally or even knows what it means.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/21/13 12:37 PM

Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: Derulux
And if I had only learned how to learn to play chess, I could kick Garry Kasparov's ass? Who knew????



Good morning. Does anyone know the Austrian author Stefan Zweig?

Two things.. first, that's not my quote. wink

I've heard of Zweig, but I don't believe I ever read anything by him. Didn't he write the original "Twilight"? laugh


Keystring - do you mean to say, encounters of the 3rd kind? wink

And very nice post, by the way. Interesting what you did with "D" -- I had to do the opposite when I started learning to improvise.
Posted by: keystring

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/21/13 01:29 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux

Keystring - do you mean to say, encounters of the 3rd kind? wink

If the 3rd kind is the right time, sure. smile Btw, to get at this "hiding thing" (someone asked), use the button that has an S with a diagonal slash. That's the "spoiler".
Quote:

And very nice post, by the way. Interesting what you did with "D" -- I had to do the opposite when I started learning to improvise.

It's been a weird journey and it still is. Anyhow, I think you need both, and then some more angles. Each way of viewing things is an adventure that brings you into new worlds. (Stopping before this becomes philosophical.)
Posted by: ando

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/22/13 12:27 AM

Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: Derulux
And if I had only learned how to learn to play chess, I could kick Garry Kasparov's ass? Who knew????



Good morning. Does anyone know the Austrian author Stefan Zweig?


Yes, Schachnovelle is one of my favourite books!
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/22/13 12:45 AM

Originally Posted By: landorrano

Good morning. Does anyone know the Austrian author Stefan Zweig?

Indeed. He wrote the libretto for Richard Strauss's opera Die schweigsame Frau.

Alas, IMO, not one of Strauss's greatest operas, the music seems to have been written on auto-pilot.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/22/13 03:27 AM

Originally Posted By: ando


Yes, Schachnovelle is one of my favourite books!


Good morning. Yes that's the one I'm thinking of, The Chess Game. A great read, and those of the T-Party ( talent!! grin ) will enjoy reading about the chess prodigy.

Originally Posted By: argerichfan

Indeed. He wrote the libretto for Richard Strauss's opera Die schweigsame Frau.

Alas, IMO, not one of Strauss's greatest operas, the music seems to have been written on auto-pilot.


I didn't know that. Don't they say that Strauss was anti-Jew!!! Go figure.

By the way, Richard Strauss, child prodigy, composing as a small tyke. Father was musician, little Richard crawling under the legs of the musicians of the orchestra, feeling the tympani in the planks, hearing his father's horn reverberating in the hall, getting coddled by the sopranos and jostled on the knee of the baritones: that is what talent is.





Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/22/13 03:54 AM

To add a word to my last post, and in response to something that WR wrote a couple of days ago:
Originally Posted By: wr

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




I consider that it is a relational question as much as an environmental one. I consider music as a relationship, a form of very intimate communication between human beings, the apprenticeship of an instrument as well. That is why exceptional musicians nearly always come from families with a musical actvity. Music and playing an intrument, learning to express one's self musically, learning to receive and to formulate a musical idea, are for a child like suckling his mother's breast. As says Michelangelo, the maternal milk thickened with marble powder.

Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/22/13 05:29 AM

Originally Posted By: wr
... a person with the musical genetic structure pointed out in the Finnish study of inheritable musical ability ...


So for my race of super-musicians, I have to go to Finland. Thanks for the tip!

But maybe they're already doing that, up in Lapland. Let me see, a quick search on the web ...

... indeed ! And with very encouraging results, it seems!

Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/22/13 06:04 AM

Originally Posted By: landorrano
To add a word to my last post, and in response to something that WR wrote a couple of days ago:
Originally Posted By: wr

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




I consider that it is a relational question as much as an environmental one. I consider music as a relationship, a form of very intimate communication between human beings, the apprenticeship of an instrument as well. That is why exceptional musicians nearly always come from families with a musical actvity. Music and playing an intrument, learning to express one's self musically, learning to receive and to formulate a musical idea, are for a child like suckling his mother's breast. As says Michelangelo, the maternal milk thickened with marble powder.



Or, since families do pass along DNA, that could also be a source of why they are exceptional musicians.
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/22/13 06:49 AM

Originally Posted By: keystring

Ultimately regardless of whether talent exists or not, whether someone has this talent, it still comes down to what we need to learn in order to play music well on the piano, and how we are going to learn it. That's why the debate is a bit puzzling. It's like everyone has been hypnotized, "When you hear 'virtuoso' - argue." Not everyone who writes "virtuoso" means it literally or even knows what it means.


Well, since, by definition, talent exists regardless of environmental variables, it will tend to express itself in anyway it can. Or, if totally stymied, maybe it won't.

In terms of playing classical piano at a high level, I don't think the question of talent revolves around having basic knowledge about how it all works being available early in life. The basic elements are simply prerequisites, rather than being the focus.

The debate, as I understand it, is about why some people, starting very early in life, exhibit a particular knack, skill, affinity, ability, whatever you want to call it, when it comes to music, and develop it faster than others with the same opportunity. And, specific to this forum, that debate would be in regard to playing classical piano, where there are innumerable examples of the phenomenon.

Myself, I think that "talent" encompasses a fairly wide range of ability, and being a virtuoso is only one of the ways in which it can be manifested. But, for the purposes of discussion here, using the world's great virtuosos as examples is simply the most convenient way point to the phenomenon. (And none of this has a lot to do with the OP, I don't think.)
Posted by: keystring

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/22/13 09:43 AM

Wr, I don't know if you read my post in its entirety. You might have. I know it's long (but then some of yours have been too - anecdotal always tells me more), but it does try to spell out some things via what I've encountered.

Quote:
In terms of playing classical piano at a high level, I don't think the question of talent revolves around having basic knowledge about how it all works being available early in life. The basic elements are simply prerequisites, rather than being the focus.

No, the basics are not the focus, and it doesn't have to be available early in life. But if you're drawn to it on your own, then you may get at these elements in weird ways or skip them altogether. I've given examples from my own story, where both reading and technique have had consequences. I was interested in reading in the teacher forum a while back, where someone advised for a young talented child in question, to let that child go forward at the pace that was driving him, but to make sure that the basic elements would be caught a bit later.

Quote:
The debate, as I understand it, is about why some people, starting very early in life, exhibit a particular knack, skill, affinity, ability, whatever you want to call it, when it comes to music, and develop it faster than others with the same opportunity.

My focus tends to be practical, and if someone writes in wanting to know how to play music well, that's the part that matters. This debate doesn't give me anything, and there are way too many unknowns about these "some people".

The bottom line is that for the person who begins lessons when already adult, there is a host of traps that can get in the way. The first is the possible wrong idea of what playing and learning are about, magical thinking, trying to get at the whole, and whatnot. Or the opposite, a totally mechanical paint-by-number or step-by-step mentality.

But even if there is a good attitude, a trap crops up in the teaching. Typically the student comes in already playing, and the teacher says the "level" (of piece) he can play and continues from there, and maybe fixes this or that technical problem. The underlying skills are not built, the strategies are not taught, and they may be assumed to be there. One thing that I heard when I asked for certain things was "But you have it already." I had what was past it, or a part of it, but not the part that lay in the beginning. I think this is common regardless of any level of natural ability (which can also be broken down into specific abilities existing in music).


Quote:
Myself, I think that "talent" encompasses a fairly wide range of ability, and being a virtuoso is only one of the ways in which it can be manifested. But, for the purposes of discussion here, using the world's great virtuosos as examples is simply the most convenient way point to the phenomenon.

Some considerations astound me, because they would seem to be taken for granted, but end up having to be defined. This is one of them. But of course talent (potential) can be in any given area, or a number of them. Btw, "world's great virtuosos" bothers me in several ways. Firstly, you're talking about people who have gotten known, and how some get known and others don't is a whole other kettle of fish. And then I'm more interested in a musician - someone who makes music, with depth and substance - than a virtuoso, which as I understand it means technical proficiency. I may be wrong about that. But in any case, it is rare that any of us would know any of these people personally, there's the whole publicity factor which is necessary. I don't know if that's the best place to go.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/22/13 11:40 AM

Originally Posted By: wr

Or, since families do pass along DNA, that could also be a source of why they are exceptional musicians.



In the case of the Finns that is undoubtedly true. As for the rest of humanity .... grin
Posted by: Steve Chandler

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/22/13 12:50 PM

Here's an article that addresses the subject of this lengthy thread.

http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2013/practice-makes-perfect-not-so-much/

The article doesn't provide the details that would be found in the study, but the conclusions are indeed interesting.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/22/13 01:26 PM

Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
Here's an article that addresses the subject of this lengthy thread.

http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2013/practice-makes-perfect-not-so-much/

The article doesn't provide the details that would be found in the study, but the conclusions are indeed interesting.


I'm not exactly a chess Grandmaster wink , but I learnt chess from books my uncle gave me when I was 9 (Capablanca's Best Games etc., as a well as a beginner's book). I had noone to play with, but next time I visited my uncle, I challenged him to a game....and won. And it was my first game. He was rusty, but used to play regularly in his county chess team.

I also had no difficulty playing 'blindfold chess', when I eventually found players I could play on a similar level when I went to boarding school. (We played while pretending to listen to the teachers during school lessons, until a teacher realized what was going on, and separated us..... grin). Though I don't think my talent was ever good enough to take me all the way to GM level.

However, my talent at chess was, and still is, probably better than my (non-existent) 'talent' at playing the piano..... cry
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/22/13 01:36 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
The underlying skills are not built, the strategies are not taught, and they may be assumed to be there.

Interesting aside.. I just had a discussion about this regarding K-12. I believe the same inherent problems exit there for G&T students. They are so far advanced from the rest of the class that they do not need to develop the skills (studying, in particular) necessary to stay afloat in more difficult curriculum, and when they finally hit the deep end of the pool, they drown.

Similar deal here -- I bet people are so aggressive at getting into the music that they skip the basic fundamentals of how to practice, how to approach a piece, how to correct technique issues, etc, that when they get to something a little more difficult, they drown in the sea of black on the page.

Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
"MSU link"

Great article. I would like to read more of what, specifically, they studied when they say "practice". This particular sentence stood out to me: "While the conclusion that practice may not make perfect runs counter to the popular view that just about anyone can achieve greatness if they work hard enough...." I would think the vast majority of people agree that if you practice the wrong thing, practice is certainly not enough. I'm used to hearing this readily debunked and replaced with, "Perfect practice makes perfect."

So, I wonder if they studied the "how" of practice, or if they simply aggregated hours? That would certainly be a giant, gaping hole in their theory, so I hope they did that. Any idea where the full study is published? (Or if it's published yet?)
Posted by: Steve Chandler

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/22/13 02:08 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
"MSU link"

Great article. I would like to read more of what, specifically, they studied when they say "practice". This particular sentence stood out to me: "While the conclusion that practice may not make perfect runs counter to the popular view that just about anyone can achieve greatness if they work hard enough...." I would think the vast majority of people agree that if you practice the wrong thing, practice is certainly not enough. I'm used to hearing this readily debunked and replaced with, "Perfect practice makes perfect."

So, I wonder if they studied the "how" of practice, or if they simply aggregated hours? That would certainly be a giant, gaping hole in their theory, so I hope they did that. Any idea where the full study is published? (Or if it's published yet?)

The article states, "Many theorists argue that thousands of hours of focused, deliberate practice is sufficient to achieve elite status.

Hambrick disagrees.

“The evidence is quite clear,” he writes, “that some people do reach an elite level of performance without copious practice, while other people fail to do so despite copious practice.”

To me this indicates that the quality of practice was a consideration, though we can't know for sure without reading the research article.

As for reading the article, contact information for Professor Zach Hambrick is available by simply putting your cursor over his name at the top of the article.
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/22/13 07:43 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring

This debate doesn't give me anything, and there are way too many unknowns about these "some people".



Well, no one is forcing you to participate in this part of the thread, the debate about talent, are they? Threads can evolve into multiple digressions that progress simultaneously. People can respond to the parts which interest them.

And, yes, I did read your entire post, but it didn't seem to be about the issue of whether talent exists, which is the focus of my interest in the thread right now.
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/22/13 07:58 PM

Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
Here's an article that addresses the subject of this lengthy thread.

http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2013/practice-makes-perfect-not-so-much/

The article doesn't provide the details that would be found in the study, but the conclusions are indeed interesting.


Here is what appears to be an earlier paper by the same author on the same subject, and drawing a similar conclusion.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/22/13 08:16 PM

Originally Posted By: wr

Here is what appears to be an earlier paper by the same author on the same subject, and drawing similar conclusion.


Which appears to be that great musicians (and chess players) are largely born, not made.........
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/22/13 08:27 PM

Originally Posted By: landorrano
Don't they say that [Richard] Strauss was anti-Jew!!!

Not necessarily. I don't think Strauss cared one way or the other, and I have never read anything to indicate that it was of much importance to him. Strauss was basically apolitical and cynical: 'So I used a Jewish librettist? Well he was handy at the time'.

Strauss may have not have put up much of a fuss about the National Socialists, though he did write a conciliatory letter to Hitler, basically to save his arse. Since this was late 1944, I don't know if Hitler ever saw it; certainly he had other things on his mind.

Richard Strauss survived because he was Germany's greatest composer, and considering that shortly after the war he conducted a concert of his music in London (invited by Sir Thomas Beecham), well he got off a lot easier than many other German musicians. I think he was an innocent man, he just wanted to be left alone to write his glorious music, and there is nothing in Vier letzte Lieder which indicates anything other than a silent resignation and apology for his country.

Truly great music, it never fails to move me.
Quote:
By the way, Richard Strauss, child prodigy, composing as a small tyke. Father was musician, little Richard crawling under the legs of the musicians of the orchestra, feeling the tympani in the planks, hearing his father's horn reverberating in the hall, getting coddled by the sopranos and jostled on the knee of the baritones: that is what talent is.

Right-O. If Strauss was not a prodigy on the level of a Mozart or Korngold, I defy ANYONE to match the Burleske which he wrote at 19. Reportedly he played it at an informal run-through, and it turned out to be a mistake to dedicate it to von Bülow who considered it unplayable. It was left to Eugen d'Albert (who was one of the first to prominently feature the Brahms concertos in his repertoire) to demonstrate that Strauss's youthful work was not only playable, but marvelously effective.

I am surprised that this work is not more often performed live, though it has not lacked for recordings. (Carol Rosenberger's dismal attempt not in the running.)

If I have read through the Burleske (WOW- it is difficult!), I have accompanied a number of Strauss's songs, and the piano parts could only have been written by a man who knew the piano intimately. Having played tons of Schubert, Schumann, and Brahms lieder, nothing quite fits the hands like Strauss. Certainly Schubert doesn't.

Sorry for OT, landorrano, but I just had to chime in.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/22/13 09:13 PM

Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
"MSU link"

Great article. I would like to read more of what, specifically, they studied when they say "practice". This particular sentence stood out to me: "While the conclusion that practice may not make perfect runs counter to the popular view that just about anyone can achieve greatness if they work hard enough...." I would think the vast majority of people agree that if you practice the wrong thing, practice is certainly not enough. I'm used to hearing this readily debunked and replaced with, "Perfect practice makes perfect."

So, I wonder if they studied the "how" of practice, or if they simply aggregated hours? That would certainly be a giant, gaping hole in their theory, so I hope they did that. Any idea where the full study is published? (Or if it's published yet?)

The article states, "Many theorists argue that thousands of hours of focused, deliberate practice is sufficient to achieve elite status.

Hambrick disagrees.

“The evidence is quite clear,” he writes, “that some people do reach an elite level of performance without copious practice, while other people fail to do so despite copious practice.”

To me this indicates that the quality of practice was a consideration, though we can't know for sure without reading the research article.

As for reading the article, contact information for Professor Zach Hambrick is available by simply putting your cursor over his name at the top of the article.

Yeah, they mention "copious" practice, but that just means "a lot" regardless of what was practiced, how it was practiced, or the quality of that practice.

Thanks for the heads-up on his contact info.. I didn't even think to try that. (Just dove right into the meat on my first read.) smile

Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
Here's an article that addresses the subject of this lengthy thread.

http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2013/practice-makes-perfect-not-so-much/

The article doesn't provide the details that would be found in the study, but the conclusions are indeed interesting.


Here is what appears to be an earlier paper by the same author on the same subject, and drawing a similar conclusion.

That's not the conclusion drawn. This paper has to do with working memory capacity and its effect on sightreading. In the following quote, they completely negate that conclusion for works mastered and possibly also for familiar genres:

"For example, in piano, it could be that working-memory capacity is important for sight-reading in performers of all levels of skill. However, working-memory capacity may become
less important as the piece is practiced and then become entirely unimportant once mastered. Or perhaps working-memory
capacity predicts performance in playing music in an unfamiliar genre but not a familiar genre. We believe that research aimed at investigating these sorts of possibilities will increase scientific understanding of the underpinnings of skilled performance."

Since sightreading has largely gone the way of the dodo in classical music, the results aren't entirely relevant. Nevertheless, it is a very interesting article, though I thought it would be pretty obvious that "more memory capacity" = "greater ability to remember notes". wink
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/23/13 01:38 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux

Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
Here's an article that addresses the subject of this lengthy thread.

http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2013/practice-makes-perfect-not-so-much/

The article doesn't provide the details that would be found in the study, but the conclusions are indeed interesting.


Here is what appears to be an earlier paper by the same author on the same subject, and drawing a similar conclusion.

That's not the conclusion drawn. This paper has to do with working memory capacity and its effect on sightreading. In the following quote, they completely negate that conclusion for works mastered and possibly also for familiar genres:

"For example, in piano, it could be that working-memory capacity is important for sight-reading in performers of all levels of skill. However, working-memory capacity may become
less important as the piece is practiced and then become entirely unimportant once mastered. Or perhaps working-memory
capacity predicts performance in playing music in an unfamiliar genre but not a familiar genre. We believe that research aimed at investigating these sorts of possibilities will increase scientific understanding of the underpinnings of skilled performance."

Since sightreading has largely gone the way of the dodo in classical music, the results aren't entirely relevant. Nevertheless, it is a very interesting article, though I thought it would be pretty obvious that "more memory capacity" = "greater ability to remember notes". wink


As I said, the conclusion drawn was "similar", and it is.

Also, the paper isn't just about sight-reading - that's just one of various studies mentioned. And for something largely gone the way of the dodo, there sure are a lot of threads about it here.

Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/23/13 01:46 AM

Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
Here's an article that addresses the subject of this lengthy thread.

http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2013/practice-makes-perfect-not-so-much/

The article doesn't provide the details that would be found in the study, but the conclusions are indeed interesting.


Here's a link to the publisher's site for that paper. It hasn't been published yet, although they make it available online behind a pay-wall.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/23/13 01:49 AM

Originally Posted By: wr
Also, the paper isn't just about sight-reading - that's just one of various studies mentioned. And for something largely gone the way of the dodo, there sure are a lot of threads about it here.

There are also a lot of threads about learning piano without a teacher. I would say neither applies to the discussion at hand. wink

Quote:
Here's a link to the publisher's site for that paper. It hasn't been published yet, although they make it available online behind a pay-wall.

Awesome, thanks! smile
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/23/13 05:19 AM

Originally Posted By: wr

Here's a link to the publisher's site for that paper. It hasn't been published yet, although they make it available online behind a pay-wall.


The true secret of genious finally revealed! But the world will never know: it's just too expensive!
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/23/13 07:56 AM

Originally Posted By: argerichfan

Sorry for OT, landorrano, but I just had to chime in.


Chime! Chime! Please do, by all means!
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/23/13 08:17 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: wr
Also, the paper isn't just about sight-reading - that's just one of various studies mentioned. And for something largely gone the way of the dodo, there sure are a lot of threads about it here.

There are also a lot of threads about learning piano without a teacher. I would say neither applies to the discussion at hand. wink



Your assertion (that sight-reading is going the way of the dodo) doesn't particularly apply to the discussion at hand, either.

I think those members here who actually earn money from doing collaborative work would probably not agree with you. IIRC, some of them have said that sight-reading skills were important in their work.

Regardless of all that and how it may or may not apply to the discussion at hand, the point of the sight-reading study seems to be that the level of sight-reading ability is connected to a inheritable trait, i.e., "nature" rather than "nurture". On that basis, it does relate to the discussion at hand. And it is, after all, a particular musical skill, no matter what your opinion is about its current importance.
Posted by: currawong

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/23/13 07:08 PM

Originally Posted By: wr
I think those members here who actually earn money from doing collaborative work would probably not agree with you. IIRC, some of them have said that sight-reading skills were important in their work.
Absolutely essential, in fact. (speaking as one who earns money from collaborative work)
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/24/13 10:03 AM

Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: wr
Also, the paper isn't just about sight-reading - that's just one of various studies mentioned. And for something largely gone the way of the dodo, there sure are a lot of threads about it here.

There are also a lot of threads about learning piano without a teacher. I would say neither applies to the discussion at hand. wink



Your assertion (that sight-reading is going the way of the dodo) doesn't particularly apply to the discussion at hand, either.

I think those members here who actually earn money from doing collaborative work would probably not agree with you. IIRC, some of them have said that sight-reading skills were important in their work.

Regardless of all that and how it may or may not apply to the discussion at hand, the point of the sight-reading study seems to be that the level of sight-reading ability is connected to a inheritable trait, i.e., "nature" rather than "nurture". On that basis, it does relate to the discussion at hand. And it is, after all, a particular musical skill, no matter what your opinion is about its current importance.


If you would like to change the subject from "talent" to earning a living playing the piano, then yes. I would agree with you that sight-reading skills are extremely important. I rather thought we were discussing "talent" as it applies to virtuosity. (Which leads into the next point you brought up...)

Quote:
Regardless of all that and how it may or may not apply to the discussion at hand, the point of the sight-reading study seems to be that the level of sight-reading ability is connected to a inheritable trait, i.e., "nature" rather than "nurture". On that basis, it does relate to the discussion at hand. And it is, after all, a particular musical skill, no matter what your opinion is about its current importance.

I agree, as a separate skill, it can be discussed and may indeed represent the biggest hole in the "no talent" theory yet. However, it is not required in spades to become a virtuoso or even to play at that top level. I don't think I've ever heard Kissin, Argerich, Horowitz, or any of the others sightread on stage. I believe it was said of Josef Hoffman that he was a very poor sightreader, and I'm sure there are others in that category.

As to the previously mentioned "hole", it has, of course, been mentioned in this thread that it takes "talent" to get to the top, but even people without talent can get pretty far up the chain. So, now I'm not so sure that the ability sightread gets us anywhere in terms of the "talent" discussion referring to the ability to play the piano at all.

More succinctly, what I mean to say is, if we have more than one variable, but only one equation, we cannot say what the value of either variable is.
Posted by: Steve Chandler

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/24/13 10:31 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
More succinctly, what I mean to say is, if we have more than one variable, but only one equation, we cannot say what the value of either variable is.
That sounds suspiciously like the uncertainty principle, Schrodinger's cat and all!
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/24/13 11:08 AM

Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
Originally Posted By: Derulux
More succinctly, what I mean to say is, if we have more than one variable, but only one equation, we cannot say what the value of either variable is.
That sounds suspiciously like the uncertainty principle, Schrodinger's cat and all!

I hate that cat.. hahaha laugh
Posted by: Mwm

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/24/13 11:19 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
Originally Posted By: Derulux
More succinctly, what I mean to say is, if we have more than one variable, but only one equation, we cannot say what the value of either variable is.
That sounds suspiciously like the uncertainty principle, Schrodinger's cat and all!

I hate that cat.. hahaha laugh

The latest thoughts on quantum uncertainty is that the uncertaintly exists only in the mind of the observer before he/she makes the observation, and, in fact, the cat is actually dead, or alive, as the case may be. (Quantum Bayesianism)
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/24/13 11:24 AM

Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
Originally Posted By: Derulux
More succinctly, what I mean to say is, if we have more than one variable, but only one equation, we cannot say what the value of either variable is.
That sounds suspiciously like the uncertainty principle, Schrodinger's cat and all!

I hate that cat.. hahaha laugh

The latest thoughts on quantum uncertainty is that the uncertaintly exists only in the mind of the observer before he/she makes the observation, and, in fact, the cat is actually dead, or alive, as the case may be. (Quantum Bayesianism)

I made that argument nearly 15 years ago in college, and was told I was wrong. Nice to know I wasn't, even though they can't change my grade now. grin
Posted by: wr

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/25/13 06:57 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: wr
Also, the paper isn't just about sight-reading - that's just one of various studies mentioned. And for something largely gone the way of the dodo, there sure are a lot of threads about it here.

There are also a lot of threads about learning piano without a teacher. I would say neither applies to the discussion at hand. wink



Your assertion (that sight-reading is going the way of the dodo) doesn't particularly apply to the discussion at hand, either.

I think those members here who actually earn money from doing collaborative work would probably not agree with you. IIRC, some of them have said that sight-reading skills were important in their work.

Regardless of all that and how it may or may not apply to the discussion at hand, the point of the sight-reading study seems to be that the level of sight-reading ability is connected to a inheritable trait, i.e., "nature" rather than "nurture". On that basis, it does relate to the discussion at hand. And it is, after all, a particular musical skill, no matter what your opinion is about its current importance.


If you would like to change the subject from "talent" to earning a living playing the piano, then yes. I would agree with you that sight-reading skills are extremely important. I rather thought we were discussing "talent" as it applies to virtuosity. (Which leads into the next point you brought up...)



From "going the way of the dodo" to "extremely important" - hmmm.

I was talking about talent, although in my mind I didn't think of it as necessarily applying to virtuosity. I still am talking about talent, and the sight-reading study demonstrates that a facet of musical talent is inheritable, i.e., innate. The connection to the discussion seems fairly clear to me.

Quote:


Quote:
Regardless of all that and how it may or may not apply to the discussion at hand, the point of the sight-reading study seems to be that the level of sight-reading ability is connected to a inheritable trait, i.e., "nature" rather than "nurture". On that basis, it does relate to the discussion at hand. And it is, after all, a particular musical skill, no matter what your opinion is about its current importance.

I agree, as a separate skill, it can be discussed and may indeed represent the biggest hole in the "no talent" theory yet. However, it is not required in spades to become a virtuoso or even to play at that top level. I don't think I've ever heard Kissin, Argerich, Horowitz, or any of the others sightread on stage. I believe it was said of Josef Hoffman that he was a very poor sightreader, and I'm sure there are others in that category.

As to the previously mentioned "hole", it has, of course, been mentioned in this thread that it takes "talent" to get to the top, but even people without talent can get pretty far up the chain. So, now I'm not so sure that the ability sightread gets us anywhere in terms of the "talent" discussion referring to the ability to play the piano at all.

More succinctly, what I mean to say is, if we have more than one variable, but only one equation, we cannot say what the value of either variable is.


It's not math.

The sight-reading study isn't necessarily connected to virtuosity, per se, but is about musical talent in the larger sense. As I said in an earlier post, using virtuosos as examples is just a convenience, AFAIAC. As examples, they have the advantage of being publicly known, and often their bios are also known and easily found on the 'net. But I don't think that innate musical talent is limited to virtuosos, so I when I talk about musical talent, I am not referring exclusively to virtuosos.

From my point of view, the Finnish study and the Hambrick studies are all that should be needed to establish that there is good reason to believe that at least some aspects of musical ability can be innate and inheritable, rather than purely resulting from environmental factors. Regardless of the complexities involved in the making of any given virtuoso, it's clear that at a more basic level, there are aspects of musical ability that can be innate, rather than environmental.

As always, studies need to be replicated and refined before being accepted as iron-clad proof of anything, and even then, there's always a chance that something will eventually come along that messes with well-established "reality". But it looks to me that as it currently stands, given this recent research, it should be impossible to say that there can never be any aspect of musical ability that is innate to the individual, but that the entirety of it is always and forever more purely a result of environment.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/26/13 11:37 AM

Originally Posted By: wr
From my point of view, the Finnish study and the Hambrick studies are all that should be needed to establish that there is good reason to believe that at least some aspects of musical ability can be innate and inheritable, rather than purely resulting from environmental factors. Regardless of the complexities involved in the making of any given virtuoso, it's clear that at a more basic level, there are aspects of musical ability that can be innate, rather than environmental.

As always, studies need to be replicated and refined before being accepted as iron-clad proof of anything, and even then, there's always a chance that something will eventually come along that messes with well-established "reality". But it looks to me that as it currently stands, given this recent research, it should be impossible to say that there can never be any aspect of musical ability that is innate to the individual, but that the entirety of it is always and forever more purely a result of environment.

This is a very good argument, and quite different than the ones previously used (that virtuosity can only be obtained because you have some special "talent"). I will have to think more about this, but you certainly have ample solid ground to stand on here. Perhaps someone else will think of a rebuttal I have not yet considered, but I will need some time to think before I respond, so that my response is meaningful and not simply a, "Not uh.." wink
Posted by: landorrano

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/27/13 03:32 AM

Good morning.

It is clear, Derulux, that you have no greater desire than to join the talent crowd! So don't keep beating around the bush, just do it! Come out and say it! Get down on your knees and bow your head before the talent goddess, she will forgive you for having doubted her, she knows that you will believe in her all the more deeply having rooted out and cauterized your doubt before the witness of the entire (piano) world! grin

And I will know how to hold high, sole, the standard of human culture and education, of choice, of knowledge and of art, of the Enlightenment itself.
Posted by: chopin_r_us

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/27/13 05:24 AM

Originally Posted By: landorrano
Get down on your knees and bow your head before the talent goddess, she will forgive you for having doubted her, she knows that you will believe in her all the more deeply having rooted out and cauterized your doubt before the witness of the entire (piano) world! grin
Of course, the Muses! It's neither nature nor nurture, it's inspiration!
Posted by: Mwm

Re: VIRTUOSO TECHNIQUE!!! - 05/27/13 10:08 AM

Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: wr
Also, the paper isn't just about sight-reading - that's just one of various studies mentioned. And for something largely gone the way of the dodo, there sure are a lot of threads about it here.

There are also a lot of threads about learning piano without a teacher. I would say neither applies to the discussion at hand. wink



Your assertion (that sight-reading is going the way of the dodo) doesn't particularly apply to the discussion at hand, either.

I think those members here who actually earn money from doing collaborative work would probably not agree with you. IIRC, some of them have said that sight-reading skills were important in their work.

Regardless of all that and how it may or may not apply to the discussion at hand, the point of the sight-reading study seems to be that the level of sight-reading ability is connected to a inheritable trait, i.e., "nature" rather than "nurture". On that basis, it does relate to the discussion at hand. And it is, after all, a particular musical skill, no matter what your opinion is about its current importance.


I 'learned' to sight read when I was five, after I learned the alphabet and was told the letter names of the lines and spaces relative to the treble and bass clefs, and this was before I learned to read. Trouble was, nobody mentioned that the shape of the notes also had meaning. Sight reading got me my first job at 14 as organist of a church and at a liberal synagogue, and paid my way through university and gave me a career choice.

Practice, proper practice, gave me technique, and, without a doubt, made my runs better.

Musicality, however (if one believes my listeners who say I play musically), was innate. How else does one explain the ability to sight read a work musically, that is to say, without training, sense the line and arc of a piece before you have first played it?