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Talent vs Hard Work

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by ::::BASSIST::::, Jan 5, 2007.

  1. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    Its my suspicion that good or really good bassists just have more in-born natural talent than the rest of us.

    I play quite a bit (about 10hrs a week) yet I'm still a hack. I have a family so I cant invest more time than that.

    I know over 100 songs, but I get the feeling that most bassist here on TB are much better than me.

    How many hrs a week do you have to play to get "good"?

    Whats the talent to hard work ratio? (ie for me its about 90% hardwork and 10% talent).
  2. dhadleyray

    dhadleyray Guest

    Dec 7, 2004
    Hard work can compensate for a lack of talent IMO.

    I practice a minimum of 40 hours a week. That doesn't include gigs, jam sessions, or studio work.
  3. arbarnhart


    Nov 16, 2006
    Raleigh, NC
    I have the good fortune to play often with two very good guitarists, both with many years of experience. One of them knows music very well and has taught me a lot about how songs are put together. He always knows what key we are in and always knows exactly what chord or note he is playing. He took lessons for years, polished his technique and studied theory. The other guy got a guitar when he was a teenager and sat next to the radio and tried to play along. He said it was really frustrating at first. It took nearly a week before he could play with whatever came on. Never had a lesson, can't read music and only knows some of the chords. He knows the fretboard notes only because he had to learn that to communicate with band members, not because he cares what they are when he plays. Neither one of these guys practice all that much anymore. Both have been in bands over the years and play at the level where they could do that now. We just jam together in the garage for fun and sometimes at a local blues jam. My point is that both ways work. I don't think I have a lot of talent but I can carry a rhythm pretty well and I am learning to adapt pretty easily. I read music and have a basic understanding of theory, especially as it relates to song structure. I think I could be the bassist in a decent blues band with a bit more practice.
  4. trasser


    Dec 13, 2005
    I feel exactly like you Veganbass. I don't believe I have any talent for playing bass, and I always get frustrated at guys that have, because they seem to outgroove me in a lot of places.
    But through hard work, two hours practice a day + a lot of theory studying (I know, some people practice a lot more than that) I've accomplished to become one of the most wanted bass players in my area.
    My moms boyfriend once told me, that scientists say, that if you practice something a lot, you mind will develop a talent for that very thing - dunno if that is true, but sure hopes so :D
    I've also heard, that being a musician really only is 10% talent and 90% hard work - no one learns without practicing, some might find it easier to understand and feel what they are doing (did that even make sence?)
  5. thewanderer24


    Apr 29, 2002
    SJ, CA
    i'm a very firm believer that the best players are the ones that have worked the hardest to get there. 10 hours a week is a start, but if you aren't also out playing with other people a lot, that's not that much, really.
  6. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Sonny Dallas, who's a great bassist if you don't know his work, had somebody come up to him on a break and was just going on and on about how great he sounded. He said "Hell, you're not hearing anything but a lot of hard work. If you do the work, you can sound like that too."

    It doens't matter HOW much natural ability you have, everyone who's ever progressed as a musician did it because of the amount of work they put in. It's not really so much about time put in as it is about working in a focused, consistent and progressive manner. But, of course, someone working in a focused, consistent and progressive manner who can put in 5 hours a day is going to progress at a faster pace than someone who is able to do that 1 hour a day. But it is about sitting down EVERY day and working on it. Working on physical approach so that the instrument doesn't act as a impediment to getting the music inside you, out. Working on your ear so that you can hear with clarity, so that whatever you're hearing internally means something specific to you and whatever you are hearing externally (from the other cats you're playing with) means something specific to you. Working on your understanding so that this clarity of hearing is coupled with your ability to define exactly what you are hearing and how it functions.

    It's ALL hard work.
  7. slybass3000

    slybass3000 Banned

    Nov 5, 2004
    Hard work + Talent is the ultimate!

    Talent can bring you somewhere but,
    Hard work can bring even further.

  8. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Too much hip thrust
    I've never considered myself that talented.

    However, I've been playing for close to 10 years and can fool people pretty well these days. I think it's like anything else... Effort Over Time.
  9. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    I'd say that I'm 5% talent (or less) and 95% hard work.

    I've only been playing bass for 6 years. The funny thing is, people are starting to think for some reason that I've got some level of talent. Ha! Fooled 'em!

    I think that a lot of us feel this way about ourselves, but when we see others play we assume that they have some natural in born talent. We see a guy playing great and we think "he's got talent" we don't seem to think "he really practices a lot". Maybe it's a human nature thing?
  10. steveb98

    steveb98 [acct disabled - multiple aliases]

    Mar 15, 2006
    Venice, CA
    It takes about ten years to become a professional level bass player. Now you will be playing and giging way before that, but to learn what you need to and get the experince using it is about a ten year process.

    Being a musician is like any job and you put in about forty hours week into it. In general twenty hours practicing and twenty hours gigging/playing. As you get past the ten year mark practice is different its not so much learning skills, but more about musicianship and polishing skills and writing music.

    As for natural talent I think that just help cut the time it takes to accomplish things. It take a lot of work and dedication no matter how much natural skill you start with.
  11. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    Sorry, don't agree with that. Sounds abit like "doing time". For me it isn't hard or work, but easy and fun. If I want to learn something on bass, it's not a chore, but a pleasurable experience not mater how long it takes.
  12. Ibanezzer


    Aug 12, 2004
    Dayton, Ohio
    the more you play the better you get, its not really so much talent as it is continued work.

    fwiw I average between 15 and 20 hours a week. Being in a band helped me push that up as it gave me some stress/pressure to keep up with my bass studies, also dropping out of college also helped.

    Before my current band (which I joined in July 06) I played with a less motivating group and was putting in about 5-8 hours a week. Before that band when I just played alone I only put in like a 3 hours a week, lol, I was unmotivated before I met other musicians to play with.
  13. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    I feel, like you, that I have been at this for some years now, but I don't consider myself very good at all. I'm certainly a hack.

    But, I keep the right perspective. You get out what you put in. I'm a 40 something. I don't have the ability to practice 6 or 8 hours a day, nor do I have any notion of being able to get great. So, I just enjoy the journey, whatever it is.

    I play about 1 hour a day. Sometimes 2 and sometimes 3 depending on the situation at home, and then I gig about 2 - 4 times per month.

    With everything else I have going on in my life, I feel fortunate to do the small bit I can. And even though I'm not Jaco and never will be, I can still get great enjoyment out of this.

    We all don't have to be masters. Laying down a good groove with a drummer, as basic as that sometimes might be, can be very cool and very rewarding.
  14. jsbachonbass


    May 16, 2006
    Denton, TX
    I feel that in the long run, hard work and practice pays off better than talent. I know many people who have the natural talent and pick up things quickly. The trouble is because they learn it easily, they never develop a discipline for practicing, and never improve. You see these guys later in life playing the same old dives in the same old jam bands because they can't cut it a more professional band that actual expects its members to practice.
  15. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    I'd say it's 95% perspiration to 5% inspiration.

    And, yes, it should be a joyful journey! The whole road (read:situations) may not all be pleasant, but let the sense of fullfillment be your beacon. If it seems ya have to work a little harder than someone else, so be it. It's not really a comparative deal - you have to do it because you love to play. Kinda like putting blinders on a racehorse
  16. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I think that this talent that you speak of is the result of hard word because any one that sounds like they have talent has worked hard even if its just on that one thing that they sound like have talent on. :D

    10 hours is a lot of time, if its used correctly and in a focused way. What's correctly and in a focused way? Depends on your goals and what good means to you. If you spend an hour each day working on sight reading and an hour each day working on specific improvisation excercises for say 6 months, you would see an improvement in both of those areas. How much improvement depends on what you do. Look at deeply at any of the top bassists and you'll see things like musical training at an early age, parents that are musicians, painstaking practice. There's no quick or easy path and don't buy into the notion of talent without hard work.
  17. Matheau


    Nov 27, 2006
    That isn't entirely true. Patrice Guers (Rhapsody of Fire) didn't start playing until he was 17 and his training consisted on 3 years with a music teacher and one year of music college. Other than painstaking practice, he doesn't meet those criteria, but he is an excellent bassist in several very different styles.

    Tom Hamilton (Aerosmith) has never had formal musical training. He was 12-14, somewhere in that area of age, when he started playing, so not that late, but not that early either. His parents also weren't musicians.

    I really don't think it would be that hard to find lots of other bassists that don't meet the first two requirements as well. It also depends how you view "top" bassists. Whether it is just technical skill, or factoring in composing their own parts as well, and whether you factor in good composers, but weaker bass players in technical ability.

    I don't think there is ever a hard and fast way to compare the two, because there is no objective way to really measure talent. Not to mention defining what a "top" bassist is. Lots of technical skill is meaningless if you can't play anything that someone wants to listen to, but you can be influential and quite successful without much actual ability.
  18. ric1312

    ric1312 Banned

    Apr 16, 2006
    chicago, IL.
    IMO actual "talent," is a over used phrase and an extremely rare thing. Sure here and there you hear about the six year old kid that never had a music lesson in his life but can somehow play everything on piano or some other instrument by ear.

    That is really the true definition of talent, being able do something at a remarkable level without any instruction or work. Sure some people are more dextrous and can physically pick things up quicker, but this is not talent. that dexderity would apply to any physical endeavor.

    Most players have played their instruments for years, the most adept usually start at a young age when it is easier to learn things quickly.

    I'm often told that I'm a talented singer, and smile at the compliment. The fact is though I didn't start singing at all until I was 17. (I'm 35 now) I had fun, but basically I sucked bad. I took lessons and practiced a lot and read a lot of books on singing. My "talent," is actually years of hard work and not giving up, which I'm sure is the case for the majority of good players.

    Hard works is often mistakenly labeled "talent." Which infers you can just do whatever naturally and didn't have to work at it at all to gain your skill.

    "Talent," is also a word often used by people who decide to give up learning whatever endeavor because they are not as adept as a masterful player.
  19. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    According to this site, http://www.metalstorm.ee/bands/bandmember.php?member_id=197, he was born in 1969 and his discography according to this site, http://www.patrice-guers.fr.tc begins in 1996 or 10 years after he started and now he has been playing for 20 years. I'm not sure what point your trying to make, or maybe you are just agreeing with me. :D

    As of today he's been playing about 30 years.

    I didn't define top bassists, nor did I coin the phrase.

    Hard work over time translates into what you may perceive as talent.
  20. +1

    That's probably the best I'll ever get: I just started learning a few weeks ago, and I'm middle aged. I won't ever be on a stadium tour. If I'm really, really lucky, and really, really dedicated, I might gig in a few local clubs and have a good time doing it. For me, that's good, and that's enough, and, oddly, that's driving me to practice stuff that, to my wife and kids, seems grindingly dull. "More scales, dad?" Yep, that's part of getting better. I'm driven by the certain knowledge that, if I dedicate myself to gaining some mastery over this instrument, I will, in time, do just that.

    I think that learning to play bass is no different from any complex skill: a degree of mastery takes a long time, and dedication. There's some interesting observations on this in an essay by Peter Norvig. From the essay, he notes that:

    "Researchers (Hayes, Bloom) have shown it takes about ten years to develop expertise in any of a wide variety of areas, including chess playing, music composition, painting, piano playing, swimming, tennis, and research in neuropsychology and topology. There appear to be no real shortcuts: even Mozart, who was a musical prodigy at age 4, took 13 more years before he began to produce world-class music. In another genre, the Beatles seemed to burst onto the scene with a string of #1 hits and an appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964. But they had been playing small clubs in Liverpool and Hamburg since 1957, and while they had mass appeal early on, their first great critical success, Sgt. Peppers, was released in 1967"​

    Certainly natural aptitude plays a part in all this: someone with larger, more nimble hands will have a bit of a natural advantage over someone with small, less dextrous hands, for example. I think that's only a small part of it, though.

    I think that "talent" follows "passion". The few things in my life that I've been told I have a 'talent' for seem to be those things that align nicely with the things I'm passionate about. Is it that I've got some natural talent for this stuff, or is it that I'm just driven by my interest in them to develop latent skills? I dunno. I do know that I've had to put a lot of work into those few things to get recognition of a 'talent' for them.

    If you love something, and you're willing to devote the time to it, including the dreadfully dull and boring parts, you'll get better at it. As far as playing bass, if you've got ears that work, and 1 or more limbs with which to play the instrument, your own passion for it will be the limiting factor, not whatever natural aptitudes you may have for it.

    Then again, I'm pushing 40, just taking up bass, and haven't tried to make music in years, so I'm a bit biased in favor of the "hard work" point of view. I chose the phrase in my sig for that very reason: I have no great natural talent, and I know that learning a complex skill like this will take a long time. The rest of my life, actually. Knowing that, well, that's all the talent I really need.

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