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Kayak Jim
08-05-2014, 05:35 AM
Interesting article in NY Times citing a recent study that, in very simplest terms, challenges the conventional thought that 10,000 hrs will make one an expert. In case you missed it:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/15/science/which-matters-more-talent-or-practice.html?_r=0

Now back to my regularly scheduled practice!

drmosser
08-05-2014, 06:38 AM
Here is another article citing a study of twins which is relevant to the Talent vs. Practice question. According to this study, it's all in your genes.

http://www.engadget.com/2014/07/07/study-says-musical-talent-is-genetic/

So, if it's in your genes, you can sing this:

http://youtu.be/SLQRW7J_D0U ;)

Icelander53
08-05-2014, 06:54 AM
I totally believe this. It's a big ol DUH! for me. I try to work at realistic goals that are in alignment with my talents. 10,000 hours will improve what I have now but it won't turn me into Cory. It will however make me 10,000 hours older and I can't think of a better way to use those fleeting hours I have left.

Rllink
08-05-2014, 07:30 AM
I've always tried to endeavor in those activities where I have less talent. I find the things that I seem to have a natural ability to do are sort of boring. I would rather strive to do something then to go through life taking the easy route. Therefore I pursue art and music. Trust me, I have no talent in either.

actadh
08-05-2014, 07:48 AM
While I see progress with practice, I have no expectations of innate talent taking over in my playing ability.

kohanmike
08-05-2014, 08:02 AM
The two people I know who are exceptional guitar players, my nephew Rich and my good friend Sandy, both spent hours a day practicing. My impression is they're that good because they put in the time. I find when I just spend a little more time working at it, I get better quickly.

Captain America
08-05-2014, 08:11 AM
I'm a big believer in practice, but not in the Malcolm Gladstone franchise.

sukie
08-05-2014, 08:25 AM
I'm not sure what to think. I agree natural talent makes a difference. But I'm still going for the 10,000 hours. (I hope I live that long.). Don'tcha think that 10,000 of real practice will make somebody pretty good at what they do? But, of course, it can't be 1 hour a week for 10,000 weeks. From what I have heard from excellent musicians is how much time they have spent playing/practicing. It's a commitment -- both to want to learn and to actually do the work.

70sSanO
08-05-2014, 08:37 AM
Looking back over my life and all of the interests I have and had and looking at those who are exceptional at their endeavor. They have talent. If you have no talent no amount of practice will transform you into an exceptional musician, athlete, etc. And included in that talent is the psychological ability to perform on stage, in the game and not just on the practice field. Putting that talent out in front of others to critique is a necessary ingredient. The best musician in the world will never be able to show his/her ability if that person can't play in front of others.

That said, practice results in the realization of talent. All of the talent in the world will never be realized if you don't put in the time. This is pretty evident in sports where a player with star potential doesn't put in the time and never realizes that potential.

As for me, I know that I have enough talent to enjoy whatever activity I am doing even though I don't have enough talent to truly excel at anything. I can mimic one of Jake's songs 10,000 times and I will never play it as well as he does and no amount of practice will get me there technically as well as mentally. But I still enjoy it.

John

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
08-05-2014, 08:47 AM
If Jimi Hendrix had never picked up a guitar, he never would've been amazing at playing guitar. No matter how much I practice playing my guitar, my playing will never to compare to Hendrix's amazing playing. I'll never be as good at basketball as Lebron James. Heck, no other current NBA player plays as well as Lebron James, and they've all practiced at least as much. I'll never play ukulele as well as your favorite ukulele player. Most likely, you won't either.

But I'll still do everything I like to do, and I'll do my best. I hope that you do, too.

These studies that attempt to quantify talent and practice separately are silly. Talent and practice can't be considered separately. Neither exists without the other.

tbeltrans
08-05-2014, 08:47 AM
This nurture vs nature discussion seems to go on forever in any forum that deals with any sort of practice to which "talent" is associated. Often, people use the word "talent" where the word "skill" seems to me more appropriate, as when somebody puts in a good performance. We really don't know how much of that performance came from preparation and how much was raw "talent". David Sudnow developed a way of teaching adults how to teach themselves to play a cocktail style of piano, and worked under the premise that other than the very rare case of tone-deafness, everybody could get to the point of arranging these tunes from any fakebook according to simple rules and thoroughly enjoy playing them for themselves and others. He pushed against the idea of "talent" as a deciding factor as to whether a person could or could not participate in such activity (i.e. the common belief that "some gots it, some just don't") and addressed this sort of thing as one of the many "myths" about music making. I personally saw many older adults take to the piano and enjoy playing this type of music. How much "talent" was involved, I don't know, but I did get a strong sense that "talent" might well be a deciding factor for whether somebody routinely makes it to Carnegie Hall or not, but certainly not a factor in pursuing music as a hobby quite successfully and even playing on a smaller scale professionally.

How do we REALLY know if we have "talent" and how much we might have? I believe that people have different talents and really the trick is finding that which we do well and capitalizing on it. I seem to have a good ear (which is a learned skill called relative pitch - definitely NOT a talent), but a crappy memory. I can read standard notation (but am not good at doing it in real time - sight reading), but don't have the patience for it. I do well getting the gist of a piece of music and then making it my own so it is more natural and less about memorizing. Some would call that "cheating", but I view it as my own way of being able to participate using those aspects of my skill set that seem to come more naturally. We ALL have these types of skills in one form or another, so there is certainly no need for anyone to get an ego, thinking they are better than others.

I suspect that we each have these types of abilities, and finding what we individually can take to and enjoy, regardless of what the next person can or can't do, will result in much less comparison and frustration, and much more enjoyment and even progress. When we try to force ourselves to do something the way somebody else does it, we may well be trying to do what comes natural for that person, but not for ourselves. The result could be frustration for us as we struggle with it, while the other person is in his or her natural habitat and it flows for that person. We would then assume that we don't have a "talent" for the activity and give up. I personally believe that all of us can do many things well, but in our own individual way. Clearly, a little bitty guy is not going to be a big football or basketball player, but there really are probably few such obvious physical disparities for playing our chosen instruments. One person may have smaller hands and therefore must find a smaller instrument, but that kind of thing is possible to deal with. I know one guy who could not get the embouchure correct for playing brass instruments due to some kind of problem with his teeth, so he switched to guitar and has had a fine career playing jazz. We each find different areas where we flourish and others where we get stuck for a while on a plateau, and these occurrences will most likely be different for each of us. Therefore, comparing ourselves to another person will only result in frustration, when in fact, there will be times when we are flourishing and the other person is on a plateau.

So, to me it seems best to relax into what we enjoy doing, take our time, and don't compare ourselves to others. Don't worry about talent or the lack thereof and just do what you do.

I have always thought this is applicable to such discussion:

“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

So, if we believe we are not "talented" and can't do a thing well, then we are right. On the other hand, if we just do and don't think ourselves out of it, maybe we will surprise ourselves. Better yet, if we think we can do it and approach it from that perspective, then we can be right too.

Just some thoughts...

Tony

P.S. This post is as much directed at me as at anyone wondering if "talent" will prevent them from enjoying music making. This discussion comes up frequently in various forums and I always have to remind myself of the points I am repeating (as read and told to me by others with more wisdom than I have) here. We can really defeat ourselves from doing anything worthwhile with this "talent" stuff.

ohmless
08-05-2014, 08:52 AM
I have to admit to not being musically talented(mostly due to not having any training since grade school) or talented in calculus, but there has been joy in both endeavors despite the greatly added time it is taking to have learned.

Joy does not have to equal talent or skill.

greenie44
08-05-2014, 09:31 AM
So, if we believe we are not "talented" and can't do a thing well, then we are right. On the other hand, if we just do and don't think ourselves out of it, maybe we will surprise ourselves. Better yet, if we think we can do it and approach it from that perspective, then we can be right too.

Just some thoughts...

Tony

P.S. This post is as much directed at me as at anyone wondering if "talent" will prevent them from enjoying music making. This discussion comes up frequently in various forums and I always have to remind myself of the points I am repeating (as read and told to me by others with more wisdom than I have) here. We can really defeat ourselves from doing anything worthwhile with this "talent" stuff.

Wonderful and insightful post. I would extend it a bit. It has been my experience that you also have to open yourself up and let what is in you flow out, at least musically. This was an almost immediate revelation the first time I picked up a good uke. After 40 years of mediocre guitar playing, I could use whatever skill I had built up immediately on the uke and I was able to go places I never went with the big guitar. And that process has continued. Just last week I played a solo that, for the first time, felt like it came out of feeling, rather than just working it out. Wow, what a great feeling! (and if the comments on the YouTube are any indication, others noticed too)

So maybe all that practice is not just building up skills, but wearing away resistance to that flow. And some are born without having those blocks - great for them!

IMHO.

Steveperrywriter
08-05-2014, 11:49 AM
If you look at the original research, it doesn't say that ten thousand hours of practice will make you a world-class expert; it says that most world-class experts have that much time in mindful practice.

Not the same thing. There are all kind of other factors in play.

WestyShane
08-05-2014, 12:58 PM
...
But I'll still do everything I like to do, and I'll do my best. I hope that you do, too.

These studies that attempt to quantify talent and practice separately are silly. Talent and practice can't be considered separately. Neither exists without the other.

Great post. I always tell myself, and sometimes others, that I'm not the best uke player, snowboarder, mountain biker, husband, or employee that I know of. But I am without a doubt the best uke playing, snowboarding, mountain biking, married, "insert profession" that I know of.

tbeltrans
08-05-2014, 01:14 PM
It seems to me (and I could well be wrong on this), that different people have different levels of that "drive" for competition. Some people do think in terms of one person being "better" than another, or striving to be the best at some pursuit, while others simply go along at their own pace without particular regard for how they "rate" in the grand scheme of things, and then many of us fall between those extremes. I think that is separate from each of us individually wanting to do our best when performing in front of people, when we might experience stage fright in one form or another.

While I was working, I had a coworker/friend who is really into ballroom dancing. I have known other people who do that to simply enjoy the social aspects of it. But this friend really goes all out for competition, taking all manner of expensive lessons and competing at the local, state, and national levels. Without that, the ballroom dancing seems to lose its "sizzle" for my friend and his wife. They spend very large amounts of money on it, probably like Olympic hopefuls do. He was always having to leave "on time" (where most of us routinely stayed a few more hours beyond our 8) to go to a dance lesson or choreographic session.

There seem to be several competing competition programs on TV from what I hear (I watch very, very little TV) that attract large audiences and large numbers of hopeful contestants for dancing and singing and possibly whatever else people compete about these days. Yet, I have known people who get with a semi-formal group and just enjoy singing or dancing or whatever without any form of competition at all and no need for the big time recognition.

It seems to me that the important thing is to know ourselves and accept who we are in that regard. If you are competitive by nature, then definitely go for it and concern yourself with who is best and whether you can be that person, and go all out for it. If you are not the competitive type, then relax and don't worry about what anybody else is doing. There is nothing wrong with either approach as long as the approach suits you so you can enjoy whatever it is you are doing.

Tony

brimmer
08-05-2014, 01:29 PM
My talent has limits, this much I know. I have a good ear and so-so fingers, and I've been playing at the intermediate level for 30 years. But I have a full time job outside of music and many other interests, so this is fine. Playing uke is a hobby I enjoy now and plan to enjoy more in retirement. My level of talent limits my proficiency, but not my enjoyment of playing. Also I play well enough to entertain family and friends, which is a nice bonus.