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You don't have natural ability

Megadebt

Experienced
I took some lessons with Eddie Bush of the Eddie bush group. On our initial lesson I played something for him. He said "well you don't have natural ability, but you already play well"

That has since haunted me a little.

"You don't have natural ability"

hmmm, or did he say natural talent. It's been a while...I forget
 

MicroMort

Inspired
This is a topic with a lot we can talk about. My quick summary is: Some people have to work a lot harder than others, but we all need to put time in to get good.

I personally know someone who had no rhythm and no “ear” in HS and now (pre covid) plays regular gigs all over town cause he practiced like crazy and had a good teacher. Conversely I know a guy who can play circles around most ppl but doesn’t practice and keeps getting kicked out of groups (I think his demeanor might also be a factor TBH).
 

aens

Experienced
One guitar player from a band that I work with was told by his former teacher that he's never ever gonna make it as a guitar player. I think he's now one of the best new guitar players and musicians under 30 years old. Never let others slow you down.
 

don_joe

Experienced
It's only an opinion and opinions are subjective. For him "natural ability" probably means something you would never think of, cause I really don't know what it is, related to guitar playing.
 

grandinq

Power User
This reminds me of what we talk about in education as a fixed vs. growth mindset. In a fixed mindset we look at abilities like playing music or math as some some sort of glass with water in it. We all have a certain amount of water in the glass and that’s it. Those are who are perceived as having a full glass are praised for their “natural ability” and the rest of us either shrug and say “well, I guess I’m not good at that” or double our efforts. But even those who put in that effort are still largely viewed as lacking in some way to the “natural genius.”

On the other hand, a growth mindset acknowledges that there are certainly some natural dispositions but that our brains actually develop when we put in effort to learn effectively. People who have a fixed mindset actually often hit a wall at some point. If things have come easily to you because of your supposed natural gifts, and then you encounter something so difficult that you don’t “get it” right away, you may just give up because you conclude that you’ve reached your limit. Meanwhile people with a growth mindset would surpass your skill level because they have believed all along that you need to study carefully and put in a lot of effort. The work of Carol Dweck showed this dramatically with students learning math from first grade into middle school. I don’t know about you, but I felt that by about 6th grade we had already decided how the “smart kids” were. I was deemed one of those kids, and coasted on my gifts until I hit calculus. When that didn’t come easily I gave up on math.

I feel there are few truly natural geniuses and that is is something seen more in fiction. In music I have always thought the Beatles were natural geniuses. I still do in many ways. Paul and John had no real musical training but could produce incredible music. But even that story has more to it. I was re-reading the story of their first recordings with George Martin when Ringo joined. They had already failed to impress every record company, and Martin had told them they needed to boot Pete Best. When they showed up at the studio, during the lunch break between seasons they spent the whole time rehearsing. They knew this was their last chance to get it right and they put the work in. They had brought the song Love Me Do, which is a pleasant little tune but doesn’t give much indication of where they would go. I think that a lot of these “natural geniuses” really are putting in tons of effort (I hadn’t even mentioned their grueling Hamburg gigs.)

Dweck’s work has been misused at times. She wasn’t saying that if we all just try real hard we can cure cancer or write the next classic novel. But we all have it in us to develop more.
 

peteri

Experienced
There’s an excellent book called the Talent Code, which talks about how natural ability is often overstated. Well worth a read

I remember an interview with Gary Moore where he said, if you look at the great guitarists - most of them had some difficulty in childhood which led them to spending hours of their formative years ‘woodshedding’, I think there’s something in that.

I’m an ok guitarist, sometimes I get annoyed that in my teenage years I didn’t practice/study harder at it - since now I’m 50 I’m getting real pleasure from doing that and I’m going ‘if only’.

But then I remember my teenage obsession was computers which have given me a great career and enabled me to buy guitars! :0) I spent hours and hours programming from the age of 9, and the breaks in that were guitar based.

If it had been the other way around, I’d be really good on the guitar, and ok on a computer and likely starving ;)

This isn’t athletics, we can all get pretty good - it’s just for some it will be a little easier in some way
 

Muad'zin

Fractal Fanatic
Considering that guitars and music don't naturally evolve in nature but are human artificial constructs it's kinda funny to have people say a person has talent. There is no guitar playing gene, there is no natural ability to play the guitar. It must be something else that was a useful evolutionary trait that lends itself easily to making music.

As for those who are 'blessed' with talent, if its not matched by developing a good practice and work ethic it will just go to waste. Those who have to work hard to become good will develop good practice and work ethics. They'll be the ones who will practice 8 hours a day every day. Whereas those with talent will have a large chance of coasting by with their talent on the minimal effort necessary to get by. And thus they won't succeed.

As for my own talent, I've noticed that when I listen to a song and hear the guitar solo I can often visualize what the player is doing. But there my talent ends as it just won't come out of my own hands.
 

Jimmytwotimes

Experienced
One guitar player from a band that I work with was told by his former teacher that he's never ever gonna make it as a guitar player. I think he's now one of the best new guitar players and musicians under 30 years old. Never let others slow you down.

Wow - thats an awesome way to inspire a student....jeeze...
I am of the thought that as far as guitar playing, there really is no " natural ability". Hard work is hard work. You put in the hard work on anything mechanical, and you will get good at it. Now - where I think the art of guitar playing comes in, is the selection of notes you use. Everyones selection is different - some people have a knack for choosing the right notes. But as far as the mechanics of playing guitar - picking, bending, hammer ons pull offs, etc - I think anyone can be great at with practice and hard work.
 

iaresee

Administrator
Moderator
When each of my kids were born I shoved a tiny guitar into their hands. The all failed to strum anything musical. Pffft. No natural talent at all. Never gonna amount to anything.

Sound like he has shit coaching skills. Find a new teacher?
 

maxdown

Fractal Fanatic
It's those with unnatural ability I'd be more interested in, like Andy Wood, Matteo Mancuso, Guthrie Govan, et al

I think they are the ones with something close to that natural ability ..... then there's the rest of us.

Striving for something is always good though.

Some people can take 4 or 5 basic chords and create a song most of the world will be humming for years to come.
 

TG3K

Power User
I took lessons (and later taught at the same studio) with a guy named Bob. Back in the '70s Bob had a student named Tim who seemed to have no natural talent, and no sense of pitch or timing. Bob came close to telling the kid to find another hobby, but Tim really wanted to play guitar. Then one summer the kid took a break from weekly lessons, and immersed himself in practice. That fall when Tim started taking lessons again, Bob said it was like a switch had been flipped, and all of a sudden he could play pretty much anything Bob threw at him. By the time I met Tim, we had both been out of high school for a couple of years, and he was one of the best players in town. Not long after that, he moved to LA and eventually became a great studio player.

Tim's last name is Pierce. ;)
 

Fotukito

Inspired
In my experience the biggest difference between those who succeed in achieving some skill or creating something, and those that don't, is that the former just freakin' do it, and don't stop.
 

iaresee

Administrator
Moderator
I took lessons (and later taught at the same studio) with a guy named Bob. Back in the '70s Bob had a student named Tim who seemed to have no natural talent, and no sense of pitch or timing. Bob came close to telling the kid to find another hobby, but Tim really wanted to play guitar. Then one summer the kid took a break from weekly lessons, and immersed himself in practice. That fall when Tim started taking lessons again, Bob said it was like a switch had been flipped, and all of a sudden he could play pretty much anything Bob threw at him. By the time I met Tim, we had both been out of high school for a couple of years, and he was one of the best players in town. Not long after that, he moved to LA and eventually became a great studio player.

Tim's last name is Pierce. ;)
Did Bob stop calling out people for having "no natural talent" and take this experience as a lesson that musical ability isn't innate, it's learned and anyone can learn and excel at if they build the right discipline and method for practicing and acquiring the knowledge?
 
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Megadebt

Experienced
You guys are great! Yeah he was a *ick! I lasted a month, about 4 lessons. Each week, I would pack the guitar in the car, drive through downtown traffic, over a big bridge and just blah. His ego was so big it entered the room ten minutes before he did. I noticed him rolling his eyes behind the back of one of his students. He followed me out to my car after our last session. I think he knew I wasn't coming back. He called once after that. Not interested!
 

iaresee

Administrator
Moderator
The best teacher I ever had called my ass out every week when he knew I hadn't practiced what we'd gone over the week before. That was the motivation I needed to do the thing I needed to do to improve: practice, rinse, repeat. He never said "you can't learn this" or "you can't do this because you weren't born the right way". He just said, "you failed to learn this because you failed to put in the required time to learn it".
 

levipeto

Fractal Fanatic
I took some lessons with Eddie Bush of the Eddie bush group. On our initial lesson I played something for him. He said "well you don't have natural ability, but you already play well"

That has since haunted me a little.

"You don't have natural ability"

hmmm, or did he say natural talent. It's been a while...I forget

Sounds like he doesn't have the natural ability for teaching.
 
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