Natural talent vs Practice

Not quite a myth versus reality situation, but not far from it


  • I tried to go to it, but my computer just sat there going around and around for too long...guess i'll just try again later.  So, without having any idea what it said...I've wondered about this in this context:  when I was growing up I loved what music I was exposed to, being from a non or even anti musical family who discouraged it in every way.  So, when I finally managed to get a guitar by the age of 10, I was desperate to play.  I played a lot of songs to sing within a few hours.  Well that attitude just never left me, the desperation to play.  Then I'd meet people who shrugged this as natural talent...and I've always said, no, you don't know the blood, sweat and tears that went into every single little thing I ever did play, and still never really got it right.  I've rarely, if ever, got through any song or tune without messin' it up.

    But then when I was grown up sometimes people would want me to teach their kids what I knew on the I tried...just for free...I wouldn't charge for something that I'm an amateur at doing just in my own way...well, I noticed every single time I ever tried to show anybody anything on the guitar, they didn't really seem to wanna try very hard.  So...then the saying went, they didn't have talent.  I'm like no, they didn't go eat all that up with a spoon and stay up all night struggling like I did, or maybe they'd have played it better than I did, instead of not learning it.

    So...I'm not saying people are lazy or whatever if they can't learn a tune (I've tried some tunes for years and just can't get them),  just saying in my own case, I've been absolutely desperate to play anything I've ever come close to playing...and it's been mainly a struggle and a lot of  So...I don't know the difference between what is called "talent," vs. what is just a kind of desperation that won't let a person rest until they've struggled and grappled with everything they had...

    But like I said...I've never seen a kid act like I did when I was learning to play.  I played through swollen fingers, bleeding blisters and pain, sleepless nights, missed meals (which my parents used as proof that music is a bad road to go mean...the kids I tried to show stuff to kinda looked like, "ok, yeah whatever," and never really accomplished much.  I'm not saying they were lazy, but just that the biggest difference I could ever're in a desperate search to play, or you just take it in stride and hope for the

    There might be something in a person's hearing, though...I mean, I almost went deaf from measles as a baby, from what I hear they all said I was going deaf and to this day if a doctor looks into my ears they wince and react to the totally scarred up eardrums I was left I don't remember that illness and glad i can't see my own eardrums...I guess I was 2 or 3...anyway, I'm so thankful I seem to have good hearing and sensitivity to I never was interested in all these tuners people like these days...I just tune to the tones of the instrument itself and how they interact with the tuning or chords you're playing, etc, I once got myself a tuning fork for A, and have used that alone in tuning, or just tune without the A, but I understand if you wanna play so others can join in you do have to have a common tuning standard, so, the A 440 tuning fork.

    So...I think if a person's ears are just not very sensitive to tones, that could make it a lot more difficult to tune and play an instrument or sing...I'm not sure about that...there are exercises music students use for ear training, and I guess that might be an extra step that would slow a person down in their learning and create more hurdles to get through.  Still, I'm figuring if a person is desperate enough to learn, they will figure a way to get through that too...but, I don't know.  I'm actually rambling a lot on a battery that's about to go kablooey....hopefully not really kablooey, just fizzle out of should just fill up and cup and close all this out for now.

    But I guess I've always wondered, if, in music or anything else, if some desperation that just gets going in a person is the ultimate phenomenon that somehow has been given the name, "talent."  But then, I don't profess to know anything.

    I look forward to finding the link later!  Mabye I've said all stupid  Oh my battery...about to go...I'm in the red and gonna have to go hook it up. Time for coffee and Chihuahua hugs...they are desperate for  Talented huggers, those Chihuahuas are.
  • Oops...looks like a re-wrote War and Peace...sorry 'bout that.
  • One thing is true. Practice makes perfect. Not perfect as in never messing up, but as in if you want to be excellent at something then practice alot.

    Some have more advantages than others. Meaning I grew up with people that played music, specially my brother so that inspired me at a young age to pick up the guitar and learn to sing. But I know some who say they can't learn, but they never put any time into it.   I'm not saying I'm some virtuoso guitarist because I'm not. That wasn't my intended reason of learning it.

    Dreaming about be good at an instrument is not the same as doing it.  Sometimes I learn faster than other times. Could be the frame of mind.


    As for being born with some magical natural talent, not sure I agree completely about that. I think we are born to be drawn to certain things like learning language.
  • Yeah, Cricket I'd say you definitely are "talented" but I address my opinion of that term and it's use in the post. I heard Doyle Dykes say people ask him how much to make their kids practice, and he said "I was always playing and they couldn't stop me, I would be playing and they're like 'Doyle come on we're leaving'" and he's just still playing as they would drag him out to the car. And that's me as well, I'll be playing and they're like Gunnar, you need to do ____ and I'm like "freight train freight train, roll along, what you guys say? I don't care. Freight train......

    John, it depends on how you define talent, but there's no magic in it. It's just some people naturally have an easier time understanding how music works, or how cooking works, or can easily bend themselves into a pretzel without thinking about it. Anyone could learn an instrument, but not everyone will cuz they're not passionate about it
  • Cricket, I think one day I will compile your best posts and publish a daily devotional. Don't apologize, I love reading your thoughts!

    Nice blog post, Gunnar, thanks for the link! I really like your thoughts on the subject as well.

    In my experience, talent and practice are related in that talent tells you what to practice. For example, most people practice a thing because at some point they showed some talent for it and decided it would be worthwhile to do some practice.
  • I would say being passionate and loving it is a big part , It's hard to play something you don't like to play in the first place , I have my favorites that I can play fairly well , Then I have tunes I don't much care for that I can get through but barely survive those tunes are usually someone else's tune I am forced to play !
  • Mr. Cockman, I totally agree, about Cricket's posts!

    Thanks! I do agree that you practice what you like, and that's something some people might not get, or they might not realize that some people like to practice different things than themselves (myself included sometimes)

    Steve, yep you do what you're passionate about. For me that's music, for others it's something else, just some "talents" are more recognized than others
  • well...I don't know about my own of rambling and stuff.  My parents weren't just yelling at me to put the guitar down, but also to shut my grandson is the same...he's not that into music, but he is into a lot of other things and he never stops commenting and going on about stuff.  I'm glad he's homeschooled because I honestly don't know if he could keep quiet long enough to avoid the principals' office and all of that.

    Anyhow, I think my experience, I've known a lot of musicians, mainly amateur ordinary people, who were just abosolutely the best people to listen to...their music just floated you out onto another planet or something...but what did they know, or how skillful were they?  Well, a lot of them wouldn't have gotten a C in skill or musical knowledge.  They might know 3 chords or something...just bare capabilities, but they really knew what to do with what little they knew...they could bring a tear to your eye and a chill to your spine with their bare basics of elementary skills or can be technically crummy and still tap into the wonders of what music can do for people...imho.
  • Well I still haven't had the chance to get to the original linked post, which I will come back to later...trying to clean out the fish tank and cook and all that now...we skipped lunch because I was messin' with the presonus at the catching up with everything else, but just realized just now that I fear I have started a debate with myself.'

    My last post might indicate a natural talent, in that there do seem to be people who don't have to know how to play much or have many musical skills who are still really nice to listen to...

    ...why would that be?  Maybe talent?  Maybe I do believe there could be a natural talent too.  But there is also something that drives some people, myself being one, to play out of a desperate need to just do that.  Maybe that's passion?  I don't know.  I go back to my original declaration: I don't know
  • Well Cricket, if that's what knowing nothing looks like imagine if you did know something ????
  • Well I finally managed to get over and read the entry, the blog...I didn't realize it was a link to your blog...but i gotta say, very well written and i agree 100 per cent with every word!
  • Very well-written, Gunnar.

    Have you read this book?  <see below>

  • Thanks Cricket! Yeah it's my blog... ??

    Thanks Nancy, I'll check that out
  • Cricket, please don't  shy away from writing a long post. I think it's great. Resonated with me. My Daddy told my Mama, "Bill cant seem to walk by that piano without sitting down to play." Also, not a day goes by that I dont think of my first violin teacher's studio. His name was Vladimir Lukashuk, and a sign on his mantle read: "There is no short cut. Just practice.")
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