Rick Beauregard wrote: ↑
Thu Feb 14, 2019 6:46 am
I’m sure you are quite accomplished Sebastian with that much time put in. I wouldn’t use comparisons to John Williams or competitions to measure your skill.
The hypothesis of the original research behind the book is: how predictive of success is “talent” versus deliberate practice. It is not about becoming a master in 10,000 hours. Usain Bolt would not be a champion without training for a long time. Talent alone is not sufficient to guarantee mastery and may not even be necessary as a rule. There are always exceptions. But I dwell in the rule not exceptions. But when you meet Sharon Isbin after a recital and tell her how talented she is, I’ll bet she’s thinking: “ha, he has no idea how hard I worked to be this talented.”
The question of my original post is really: do I have the time and the commitment to be as good as I can be given my inherent qualities? When I started I never dreamed I could play the pieces I’m starting to play now. In fact every month I start a new piece thinking, I’ll never learn this. Then I do. I may not play like Sharon Isbin either, ever, but the capacity for improvement with deliberate practice amazes me every day.
This is a quite interesting topic to me, and I apologize if it seems to be a relatively long response, but again it's very interesting to me and think it deserves giving thought on it. I apologize for any grammar error as English is not my native.
1) "I wouldn’t use comparisons to John Williams or competitions to measure your skill.", you wrote. I just used elite guitarists to draw an example just as to illustrate my point. Thing is, that in real life there are tons of people and society gets very competitive with time. I'm not saying that most of us cannot reach Williams' level, I'm also stating that our barriers may be even lower than we expected: Certainly not everyone achieves an elite guitarist level, but ALSO not everyone can win a prize in Guitar Master (1st, 2nd, 3rd or even classify), also not everyone can be a soloist in London's orchestra, not everyone can be a soloist in a national or state orchestra, not everyone can even win a city competition and not everyone can even play some pieces (at an "okay" level, i'm not even speaking of a "virtuoso" level), even with all the effort in the world. Some can only achieve becoming professors, and some cannot even do that. The limitation scale is a big one and varies a lot inhert of our training but ALSO due to talent.
For achieving some stuff, like being able to play in an orchestra as soloist, a certain level of deveopment is required, and sometimes one just "doesn't have it".
2) If I recall correctly, Malcolm Gladwell's book was a research on how different people and groups achieved mastery
or a very high level at something with those 10.000 hours, such as The Beatles, or I think he cited W.A. Mozart with composition too. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
3) "Of course Bolt would not be a world champion without training". I never stated the opposite, in fact encouraged to give anyone a 100% no matter of what you're born with (that was my last sentence in my previous response).
4) You wrote: "Talent alone is not sufficient to guarantee mastery and may not even be necessary as a rule.
". Actually, It IS very necessary
To achieve mastery, talent is very important, let me explain this to you:
Our final result is a sum of discipline+talent, both elements. Talent not only determines how FAST we learn a skill/skills, but ALSO our MAXIMUM CAPACITY (and I said "capacity", not "level"). At least in mechanical/conscious paramethers (strength+speed+stamina+accuracy) everyone has their own maximum capacities or limits.
Talent comes from our innate physical system (which varies A LOT from person to person and includes all body factors: height, proportion of forearm to the arm, rotation of elbow, pronation of wrist, rotation of it, flexors/extensors, knuckles, phalanx, elasticity/hardness, etc..etc...etc.. and many of them can NOT be changed like our height or body proportions) and also comes from our innate mental system (motricity, capacity of synchronization, perception of depth, etc..., etc... which also varies a LOT from person to person).
The maximum capacity is the maximum state in which our phyisical and mental systems can aborb external transformations, such as with training. And at least in the strength+speed+stamina+accuracy term, everyone has, again, a different maximum reach.
Just to put an example, let's return with the Usain Bolt thing. If you wanted to be an athlete (a runner) you could train yourself to increase the mechanical/conscious paramethers (strenght+speed+stamina+accuracy) but you wouldn't increase them in an infinite way: it's not like if one year you're running at 20km/h then the next one at 30, the other at 40, then 50, then 100, then 1000... No, that's due to your human limitation but also your individual limitation. Say you train yourself for 70 years, 16 hours per day, with the best trainers and methods of training. You'd soon or later hit a treshold and that's the fastest you'll run in your live, ever. Say, it was 35 km/h (still it's quite much).
Now, why are there people like Bolt who run at 43.5 km/h.? Not only due to their training, but also becase they are born with "it". Easy as explaining that not everyone can reach Lionel Messi's football level or Kazuhito Yamashita's guitar level. And some even don't even reach an even lower level with all the effort in the world. Some people can play Las Abejas of Agustín Barrios at 300+BPM, others at 190, others at 140, others at 120, and then other who simply will only reach 90bpm: it's not that talent only determines if one will be a virtuoso or not, it's also possible that one won't even reach a "decent" level (it would be stupid for instance, to play "Flight of the bumblebee" at 70BPM, that's just "The snore of the bumblebee" it doesn't express the piece)
With musicians, and even more with instrument performers, there are two elements involved: expression and technical hability (which solely relies on strenght+speed+stamina+accuracy). And concerning this latest factor (technical hability), music perfomers are very much like athletes. And to excel as athlete you don't only need training, you also need innate talent, as described before.
5) You wrote "Talent
alone is not sufficient to guarantee mastery and may not even be necessary as a rule
. There are always exceptions
". Please, tell me who
do you know who hasn't the talent required and still achieved a level of mastery with only training. I guarantee that if somebody reached a level of mastery, then it wasn't only with training, but ALSO because he/she HAD the talent (capacity/learning speed) required to achieve that level.
6) You wrote when you meet Sharon Isbin after a recital and tell her how talented she is, I’ll bet she’s thinking: “ha, he has no idea how hard I worked to be this talented.”
I bet most people recognize Sharon Isbin's hard work, I do praise all masters' hard work too. But also she would be thinking something like "ha, he has no idea how talented I am to achieve this stage". Obviosuly not infering that she feels superior to others, just that she very probably recognizes also how good her talent is.
7) And finally: "The question of my original post is really: do I have the time and the commitment to be as good as I can be given my inherent qualities?".
Yes, I think that should be the correct mind-set to achieve. Become the best version of ourself... and learning to be happy with that! That's no easy task neither.
As a final remark I'll retell a conversation I had with one of my masters when speaking to him about these maximum capacities concern, I was worried because I wanted surpass my own limitations on technical issues and seemed to hit my treshold. I told him the talent and discipline thing I wrote before:
He completely agreed with me. Everyone has their limitations due to our innate talent.
I also asked him which was the main
objective of guitar studying (and I said "main", not "only), if art or technique (as I've been always more prone to this last one), he replied "Art, definetely. Studying guitar with the sole purpose of achieving technique is a goal more proper of engineering, rather of an artist. Technique is good as long as it serves as a bridge between you and what your soul desires to express, other than that it's useless(...
I also told him, that I was starting to believe that part of learning guitar, was learning to love ourselves. That is, to accept ourselves with our virtues and defects. He fully agreed and added: "part of your music career (I infer he referred to "playing in real life" that is, outside of conservatoire programs) is to be selective with repertoire. If you need to adjust speed at a lower level then do it, if don't have the skill to play certain piece then don't select that to perform, and if you have one or two mistakes while playing it's okay NOBODY cares as long as it doesn't interfer with the piece fluidity and expression (...)"
Basically, if you were a pianist with short hands (for instance if your maximum reach with one hand would be of an octave), then for God's sake then don't attempt to perform live Liszt/Rachmaninov pieces! At least the ones that use lots of distenssions like 10th intervals with one hand, because your hand is simply too short to reach. Instead play Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, I don't know, there are like 40.000+ pieces written which don't use 10th intervals with one hand, learn to select what will be your repertoire.
There also seems to be two kind of main mind-sets or goals:
1) The one that (unconsciously) thinks stuff like "I have the desire to play like (insert guitarist name)" or "I have the main desire to surpass (insert guitarist name here)'s level to feel accomplished".
2) The other one that aims for reaching a state of true-artist. This came recently to me as a sort of "epiphany". In this case, the main desire is to become the best version possible of ourself. And the only case in which comparisson is acceptable, is when it's elaborated as a research on which resources does the other guitarist/s use than can be involved in our own performance. And this state of true-artist should not care about competition, because he/she aims to become the best version possible of himself/herself looking for his own personality and individual character, rather than being a copy of other artists.
Abel Carlevaro's fourth and final book ("Conclusion of the left hand technique") also states a very similar thing, actually if I recall correctly, it was the last sentence of it.
This last mind-set is however, difficult to achieve. Easier to some, harder to the others. Because it doesn not only involves musical growth, but also emotional maturity.
You stated in your first sentence " I’m sure you are quite accomplished Sebastian with that much time put in", sincerly I don't feel accomplished. And that may be because my mind-set is not, or hasn't been in a long time, centered correctly. Maybe I should (and everyone should) try to achieve the true-artist goal rather than the first mind-set I described (competition). But then again, this whole though of true-artist mindset came to me very recently and it's fairly new, I might need more time to dig into it.
I'm sure you were referring to this goal/mind-set in your thread at most times.
Have a nice day.
You're reading this.