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Discussion on the subject of Raw Talent vs. Work Ethic (split thread)

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by bassbloke, Nov 27, 2002.


  1. bassbloke

    bassbloke

    Feb 26, 2002
    UK
    Makes you realise what you can achieve if you're born into a talented, jazz-obsessed family that passes on musical genes and encourages your musical aspirations from day one; work your ass-off and generally do the rights things from an early age; and make sure you've got great teachers every step of the way. Why don't more of us do it?

    Only joking (or maybe half joking) Ed - great interview and got a 5* click from me.
     
  2. bassbloke

    bassbloke

    Feb 26, 2002
    UK
    If you reread my post Ed I acknowledge that hard work and good teachers were crucial. I took up bass in my 40s so even if I'd had that level of talent - which I don't - I was never going to be another Neal Miner.
     
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Word. I started DB at age 35, and I feel that I've gotten out of it exactly what I put into it... Which is to say that I'm happy with where the work I've put in has gotten me thus far, and I'm looking forward to putting in more work so that I can progress even more. GIGO is EXACTLY what it's all about.
     
  4. bassbloke

    bassbloke

    Feb 26, 2002
    UK
    Ed I suspect we have different views on the importance of raw talent, but that subject has no doubt been debated plenty times on TB and is not provable either way. I've no desire to re-open that particular can of worms.

    But you're preaching to the converted in saying that, however much talent you've got, properly structured teaching and hard work is the best way to bring out whatever potential you've got.
    Unfortunately I can't find a teacher locally but I am working on the traditional things - reading, theory, arpeggios, ear-training. I'll never be a pro musician but I'm still progressing towards my personal goals.
     
  5. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Just to keep the wound bleeding here a bit I'll throw in my piece. I'm doing this from the perpective of being the spawn of a great player and teacher, and after having taught for many years myself.

    In my experience, and I think it covers a good cross section of humanity, the ability to play music is a pretty common thing. A standard bell curve, if you like. The ability to play music takes a number of skills and each student will have different strengths and weaknesses. This covers the raw talents needed -- raw technical ability, ears, and time -- as well as personality type, commitments to real life, etc.

    Throughout my teaching experience, I've had students with moderate to low raw musical skills that have excelled and students with incredible raw musical ability that never went anywhere, where most fall in the middle somewhere. It has always been my father's opinion, and I agree, that the biggest difference between the left and right of the bell curve is the student's desire. The next difference would be what Ed talks about when he is on about the 'smart' practicing.

    I've also found that students that have a very strong raw musical talent can often be difficult to teach as you have trouble getting them disciplined enough to work on their weaknesses. For example, getting someone with really strong ears to learn the math behind harmony, or someone with fast hands to slow down and get a good sound.

    The rarest of all are the Bachs, Mozarts, Charlie Parkers, etc, who have huge sums of all of the raw tools AND the drive. The coolpart is that you never have to worry about being one of those. If you were one of those, you'd have known it before you knew it, ya dig?

    Now -- after all of this, the only other ingredient is access to knowledge. In the world today, this is a lot easier than it was 40-50+ years ago with all of the recording -- and at high quality -- that was available before. Recording is only a picture of what happened, though, so it can only be used as a guide. If live performance is what you're after, then recordings will fall short of giving you what you need to know about playing. Organizing and using information in music is actually a bit more difficult than it would be to teach yourself something like mathematics in that you have the whole physical and aural aspects to contend with as well. (I'm going to cut short here a bit as I have to run out the door in about 5) In short -- you have to find yourself a teacher to fill in what you are missing in the recording and printed literature for music. You couldn't learn to play football in a vacuum either.

    I have strong hands, decent time, average ears, good creativity, reasonable luck. I've been a professional musician my whole life, not because I came from a musical family, but because I get the thing out of the bag every day and do it. I have had great teachers and am persistent to learn all of the time.

    Gotta run...
     
  6. bassbloke

    bassbloke

    Feb 26, 2002
    UK
    Thanks Ray, that's certainly a fascinating perspective. I'd like to digest it and think about it for a bit.
     
  7. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Thank you.

    Certainly feel at ease to ask me anything about this. I just read back over it and it's a bit scattered and without solid plot, to which I will blame on writing it over morning coffee and getting an important call out the door halfway through it.
     
  8. SMASH

    SMASH Guest

    Jan 18, 2000
    Canada.
    Great post Ray.

    The same is true in academics, or likely any endeavor. Among the dropouts and "failures" you find the tuly dumb but also the trully brilliant. The ones that make the grade are more-so the ones that had to work hard 'cause the Good Lord or their family just didn't give it to them.

    Even the inherently smart ones that make it had to find the discipline to work hard, but specifically in the academic system it is so easy to coast with high marks through grade and high school that by the time you hit university if you were one of the ones coasting on natural smarts before you're probably doomed.
     
  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    As the grandson of a semi-famous brass composer/arranger and the son of two decent amateur musicians, I find this whole coversation quite interesting. In fact, I have come to despise the term "talent" as I would prefer to work with any student with a little discipline and a good attitude over a brilliantly talented lazyass any day. I think that the word "talent" would be more acceptable if it were stretched to include discipline and attitude, but that may be asking a bit much.

    And speaking of asking a bit much, would anyone have any objections if I were to split off the portion of this thread that has to do with "Natural Ability vs. Work & Discipline" and make a thread dedicated to the topic? I think that this is DEFINITELY a good topic for discussion, and can already see it heading for one of the newbie FAQ threads. Ed? Ray? Anyone?
     
  10. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I'm all for it, and maybe put it at the top of the Newbies section.
     
  11. tsolo

    tsolo

    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    Sounds like a plan to me. I think i equate talent with imagination. I have the skill to play several instruments and I have a good ear to hear and determine when chord changes occur AND where they are going I used to do alot of fill in work. I'm mostly self taught - my dad showed me alot and I've been around some excellent musicians. I think I lack in the imagination department. Too much of an engineer.
     
  12. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    I think most of it is hard work. My family is completely non-musical and can play nothing but the radio (the dog howls when my dad sings) and I was utterly horrible when I first started to play, but I was fortunate enough to have friends that DID come from musical families that helped me out, and teachers later on.

    I am curious Ray - how would you define "raw musical talent"?
     
  13. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    By raw musical talent I mean basic abilities. Pitch recognition, ranging from perfect pitch to relative pitch, etc., athletic ability, ranging from strength to speed, time, the ability to keep even with a metronome, physical, which would be hand size, body size, etc., memory, the ability to consume information and retain and access it, imagination, ranging from endless creativity to the ability to copy something exactly. Things like this.

    Everyone is endowed with a different combination of the above. Success is best achieved when you compensate (read: work on) your weaknesses and accentuate your strengths.
     
  14. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    If this thread could be printed legibly on their foreheads, then their problems would lay more in their being cheated by evolution than having screwy ideas about music. :)
     
  15. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Went fine. I always have a good time with those guys. Good folks. Made the $100 tip from the guy that loves 'All or Nothing at All'.

    Digression mode off. ;)
     
  16. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY


    I think you got that tip on raw talent alone.:mad:
     
  17. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    CF,

    I just took notice of the title of the thread. I think instead of 'work ethic', 'drive' would more accurately nail it.
     
  18. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    ?
     
  19. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    There was a 3-way split, so your humoric bit was just under the RADAR. No, make that WAY under the RADAR.

    :)
     
  20. tsolo

    tsolo

    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    For those of you who teach, would you rather teach someone with raw talent and no discipline to work on strengths and weaknesses or someone with drive and desire with no talent. And which do you think will become the better musician?