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  1. #1

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    First, if you dont believe in talent, please save that for another thread or start your own. I know it's been debated, but I'm of the belief that there is, so please proceed accordingly.

    I'm a former golf professional and always had an aptitude for sports/recreation. I gave golf lessons for almost 10 years and taught many folks varying degrees of ability. I always admired the folks who really didn't have any ability and who's potential was not that great. They seemed very much to enjoy it still and more than many "good" players.

    Anyway, I have a creative/artistic side that I believe I got from my Mom, but isn't as strong as my athletic side for lack of a better word. Musically, our family has no real history of it other than popular music appreciators/listeners. I would say my "ear" or appreciation for music has been higher than most of my friends and family that I grew up with, but I wouldn't consider that a "talent" so to speak. So, in trying to learn to play anything close to Jazz, I understood early that at best I might be able to eventually physically perform a few things with a lot of practice because I had decent eye hand coordination, but that I was never going to understand it on any real kind of level. Just in the shower this morning I was listening to Miles play "On Green Dolphin Street" live and I realized that while I like it a lot, I really dont understand what's going on. The flurry of notes at times during the song I know are musical, but I cant follow them, etc.

    Soooooooo, why am I even attempting to play/do something that I suck at and will never "understand" or be anything other than at BEST be someone who can reproduce (shittily) what someone else has played? For me, it's a few reasons, but I'd like to hear from others who are similar and hear about their "why's" and "how's". Maybe I wont feel so alone, haha!

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I don't see much of a direct relationship between talent and understanding. I.e. understanding is learned behavior. E.g. with golf learning what club to use for certain shots; Often the caddy has a better understanding of this than the player, but clearly the player has more talent (which in this example would be the ability to use the selected club to its full advantage).

    I have only limited musical talent but a lot of musical understanding (a lot gained at this forum). I played violin as a kid \ teen and learned music is a formal way. When I decided to play jazz guitar a lot of my musical understanding didn't help where I needed help; playing in rhythm and sounding good. To addressed this I stopped playing jazz standards and just focused on I\IV\V blues. This really helped me and when I went back to playing jazz standards I sounded a lot better (and my friends wouldn't give me the fish-eye because my rhythm was OFF.

  4. #3

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    I have what is probably the population average ability in music. Pitch recognition is pretty good, time can be spotty. But I love this music, and I love this instrument. So I keep on, playing more for the pleasure of doing it.

  5. #4

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  6. #5

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    I know that I have no talent for playing the guitar, but I do it because I enjoy it. There are few things in life that I had rather do. Having little talent does nothing to prevent enjoyment. I find joy both in listening to and in playing music. More talent might make playing more of a joy, but I don't think that's certain. I spent most of my life in vocations that prevented much playing of music, but now in retirement I'm playing every day, and enjoying it far more than I did my work. That does not surprise me.

  7. #6

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    I don’t view myself as particularly talented

  8. #7

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    I have no talent, all I did was stubbornly persist in buggering about on the guitar until after about 20 years I found I could play something resembling a decent jazz solo. The only reason for persisting with such a hopeless task was that it was fun.

  9. #8

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    Let's suppose we all could agree on who the most talented player is.

    Should the #2 guy stop playing?

    I'm not convinced that how talented you are correlates all that well with how much fun you have playing.

    Well, it does look like more fun when I hear great players making great music. But amateur players trying their best is fun too.

  10. #9

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    i know where you are coming from i have played for years never seam to get any better but i do enjoy the little victories i some times have

  11. #10

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    I have no talent for music, a poor ear, slow fingers, bad musical memory, lack of theoretical knowledge.... Lots of mates at school were the opposite and I always struggled to keep up. But keeping at it for 45 years means I can at least play a little these days, and most importantly of all I listen to other people and know when to shut up. Jazz, though, is something I doubt I'll get even had I another 45 years. But I love music and playing so I shall keep at it!

  12. #11

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    I think this is the second time I am posting this but first time was years ago (also see my pithy sig quote people tell me I am talented but I think they are just polite)

    Don't Nobody Love the Game More Than Me - YouTube

  13. #12

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    As for having fun playing jazz guitar; this has always been true for me regardless of my ability, but it wasn't much fun for my friends. E.g. I got a lot of joy playing jazz standards with Band in the Box, but until I really worked on my rhythm (e.g. using BITB but only with a bass track), and that focus on playing simple blues tunes until I sounded more professional \ musical, it was a struggle for my more experienced \ talented friends to listen to my hacking. Now with most of them it is a nice experience.

    Now one guy doesn't play music for 'fun' but instead of the challenge,,, and we don't really play much actual music; e.g. half way thru a tune he will stop and say 'Hey, I would use these voicing, or you're starting your solo on the root too much,,, etc...", he took lessons with Ron Eschete and he knows a lot,,,, but I had to change how I viewed playing with him as not-for-enjoyment, but as more-of-a-lesson.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by DMgolf66
    Soooooooo, why am I even attempting to play/do something that I suck at and will never "understand" or be anything other than at BEST be someone who can reproduce (shittily) what someone else has played? For me, it's a few reasons, but I'd like to hear from others who are similar and hear about their "why's" and "how's". Maybe I wont feel so alone, haha!
    Because G. K. Chesterton was right: If something is worth doing, it's worth doing badly. ;o)

    I'll never be any great shakes at chess but I still like to play.

    Back to guitar. Music is vast. Maybe if reproducing what others have done is disappointing, that's an invitation to write your own material. Or make your own arrangements of standards. Start where you are----"What can I do that doesn't make me want to throw away my guitar?"---and work out from there.

    I still want to quit every other day. Nothing in all of my life will ever frustrate me more than the guitar has. But I won't quit.
    Instead of thinking about how well or poorly you play, change the question to, 'did I play today?' Playing every day was the sea change for me. It is not the mission of any given day to be great; the job is to show up and do what I can. Some days are better than others. One is rarely the same as the next. Just keep going until you've forgotten how to stop. The question of how good you are (etc) can be left to others who aren't busy playing every day. (Hope this helps.)

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Nothing in all of my life will ever frustrate me more than the guitar has. But I won't quit.
    So well said!

    And, I believe that's true of the top pros as well, never as much as right now.

    If you are the best performing musician in the world right now, you still don't have any live performance gigs.

    All that effort to reach your level and you have no idea when you'll be able to play before a live audience again.

    Even before the virus ... Charlie Parker reportedly never made more than $300 per week. I'm guessing he felt frustrated.

    I've been listening to guitarwank, a great podcast. Top players talking about their craft and, to some extent, their lives. These are successful players, but they often talk about challenges.

  16. #15

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    "Talent is God's gift to you. What you do with it is your gift to God." So said a very talented and wise person I know. The Roman talent was considered the weight a man could bear. If you have talent, use it. If, like myself, you lack talent but love what you do, why not. I've been banging my head up against my limitations for half- a century now, and I think I'm beginning to make progress. I still love it. I'm going to keep doing in one form or another for as long as I can.

  17. #16

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    I don't consider myself talented. Knowlegable, yes.

  18. #17

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    Most things most people do most of the time with no talent anyway.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Because G. K. Chesterton was right: If something is worth doing, it's worth doing badly. ;o)

    I'll never be any great shakes at chess but I still like to play.

    Back to guitar. Music is vast. Maybe if reproducing what others have done is disappointing, that's an invitation to write your own material. Or make your own arrangements of standards. Start where you are----"What can I do that doesn't make me want to throw away my guitar?"---and work out from there.

    I still want to quit every other day. Nothing in all of my life will ever frustrate me more than the guitar has. But I won't quit.
    Instead of thinking about how well or poorly you play, change the question to, 'did I play today?' Playing every day was the sea change for me. It is not the mission of any given day to be great; the job is to show up and do what I can. Some days are better than others. One is rarely the same as the next. Just keep going until you've forgotten how to stop. The question of how good you are (etc) can be left to others who aren't busy playing every day. (Hope this helps.)
    Thank you, I really enjoyed this reply.

  20. #19

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    I always remember my mom telling me, after hearing me practice long hours in my room, 'you keep on playing son, you know, even people with mediocre abilities can achieve something if they persist'. Thank you mom!

  21. #20

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    I had absolutely no god given musical ability. Everything I have, I worked for.

    And I was lazy.

    I didn't really work hard. I worked a lot. There were times in my life I played 10 hours a day. If only i could have actually PRACTICED instead of dicking around. I could be a lot better than I am now. I'd like to go back and slap the shit out of 15 year old me.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    I had absolutely no god given musical ability. Everything I have, I worked for.

    And I was lazy.

    I didn't really work hard. I worked a lot. There were times in my life I played 10 hours a day. If only i could have actually PRACTICED instead of dicking around. I could be a lot better than I am now. I'd like to go back and slap the shit out of 15 year old me.
    Soooooooo......you're saying there's a chance!
    Just gotta get the time machine and get to work.

  23. #22

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    Interesting to come across this thread just as I am starting to read this book. Chapter 2 is titled ‘The Talent Trap - It’s What You Learn, Not What You Were Given.’ I have more innate musical ability than some, far less than others. I’ve worked hard through the years to improve my skills within the constraints of a full time job and raising children and being a good husband. I’ve bounced around a bit in terms of my musical focus, currently trying to acquire the ability to read standard notation fluently and to learn some of the basics of playing jazz. I love the guitar and love playing music. I love learning and improving. I will never be as good as my guitar heroes, but I still love the effort of striving for more skill and expressive abilities to make me a better musician.

  24. #23

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    I have been blessed to have spent a lot of time with a lot of very good musicians in the last dozen years or more, and some are much more naturally talented/gifted musically than others. But, I have seen that desire, hard work and perseverance is the great equalizer. Everyone respects musical competence gained by a strong work ethic, like anything else in life.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Because G. K. Chesterton was right: If something is worth doing, it's worth doing badly. ;o)
    Now THAT is a great quote!

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by docsteve
    Now THAT is a great quote!
    Now there's a man after my own heart. No talent and no one would call it playing because I only play for my teacher and he's too nice. Still, every week I see some little improvement. Something I couldn't do before and whammo, there's hope. Of course at 73 the hope is likely in another lifetime.

  27. #26

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    i know im wearing out my welcome on the corona virus thread , but , i see a trend on this thread and i at least want to pull down my mask a little and offer a differant perspective.

    i beleive very much in my talent. i beleive i was born with it and what makes me talented is i love my vision and playing so much since i was young, that i practiced very hard , and i went to the sources of the music and put myself to the test . i would not be able to play well if i didnt obcess on playing .

    i beleive in my vision. i beleive in it so much i started my record lables because i beleived with all my heart i can make as good music as any one the record companies have put out. i beleive i can stand my records up to anyone in a listening context and they will not wilt. im talking about your idols.

    i beleive i can stand my vision as performed on stage with a group up to anyone, if i can pick my people, and too many have died that i can do this the best i could , but i honestly beleive that . i can go on stage and go toe to toe with anybody playing my music , not theirs. i beleive i can put together the best set list and make it have the best flow with a powerful beginning strong middle and huge climax , and lean and sleek with little kicks and over arranging for the maximum feeling it and get in and just kill it , and i mean like you are going to war

    i beleve i can compete with anybody in up bop, i beleive i can compete with anybody at samba , including your favorites rp ( hahha) , any day , any time anywhere...its just how i feel deep in my heart. im talking about what i know how to play. what i dont know how to play , i dont do well at all , its that simple

    you cant parachute into new york and compete profesionaly without some kind of huge condfidence in your playing. the compitiion is tough and there are huge elbows under the boards. you have to develope confidence and toughness to get in there and compete.

    i have few freinds from new york, lots of colleagues, but, you have to walk the walk on your own and compete. and , i can tell you, for each one of your idols, there is a line of cats behind them that are just as talented. you think jaco is the best? what about marcus miller, who i played with?

    im not saying you have to be an a hole, or back stab , but plenty do, but you have to beleive in yourself and you have to fight hard in the deep competition . dont be afraid to love what you play

  28. #27

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    Oh.. too many people have no talent and still play, and play and play...

  29. #28

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    If clueless people would only stop telling others how they're supposed to play.....

  30. #29

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    lets see...talent...yep I believe in it...its much like love...

    and it makes you believe your going to have it..be in it..forever...you even take vows..

    I will love you forever...and then...

    your wife changes her name to ..plaintiff...
    Last edited by wolflen; 05-16-2020 at 02:10 PM.

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah
    Oh.. too many people have no talent and still play, and play and play...
    It is the people with talent but nothing else who bother me; people with nothing to play for, people who could play anything but play nothing of any consequence. I have much more time for the people on this thread who just keep on playing, because they enjoy it.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by Litterick
    It is the people with talent but nothing else who bother me; people with nothing to play for, people who could play anything but play nothing of any consequence. I have much more time for the people on this thread who just keep on playing, because they enjoy it.
    I admire amateur musicians whatever their level, skills or talent are... they do iy for pure love, what can be better aboutnhuman being than doing arts for the pure love?

    But it is more like a human sympathy.. not what I expect real art to deliver...

    As for talent.. I do not quite understand.. I thimk there can be different talents.
    For example.. some can be talented in hearing well, some can be physically gifted (good hands on guitar), some have some kind of math gift in music and can quickly get through complex conceptions they create (I am sure Holdsworth had that)... etc.

    We often mix it when we admire musicians..

    for me artistic talent is very special thing, it is not necessarily connected directly with perfect pitch and virtuoso physical talent...
    And I mostly meant that when I said: there are lots of people without talent who keep playing and playing... I meant professional enviroment

  33. #32

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    The word talent just means a natural aptitude or skill. It doesn't necessarily mean high-level aptitude. Someone with a very high-level aptitude will obviously become more famous or successful than those with only mediocre aptitudes but that's to be expected.

    Everybody here has a talent for music otherwise we wouldn't be here. We wouldn't be playing the guitar at all if we had no aptitude for it; it would be senseless. And it's highly likely that music isn't our only talent. Nearly all of us can do other things too.

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    If clueless people would only stop telling others how they're supposed to play.....
    Theres a saying in Golf: it's the only game with more teachers than players.
    Very similar sentiment.

  35. #34

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    nvm
    Last edited by Lobomov; 05-16-2020 at 11:04 AM.

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    If clueless people would only stop telling others how they're supposed to play.....
    I told that to my guitar teacher and he said, 'ok, as long as you still pay me'.

  37. #36

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    Talent, ability, creativity and style... God given, acquired, and or developed? Hmmm...

    I've squandered much on my fret time on foolishness. Less practice and study given up for writing and technique / nuance development and just playing trash and then there's the focus / obsession on the instrument to get in the way.

    Gads if only I had split those endeavors 50/50 25-35 years before arthritis grabbed my hands.

    At any rate, of all the player attributes I think that once a player finds a style that is clearly identifiable as their own which few (IMO) find even mediocre players become vastly more interesting than technical wizards, and great players with style are even more interesting.

    I think whether they liked their style or not most any player could pick out Alvin Lee, David Gilmour, Blackmore, Malmsteen, Tom Scholz, Django, Di Miola, McLaughlin, Benson and many others. To illustrate the point... how many players have easily copied many of the famous players, but how many clones developed their own style? Likely none or they wouldn't play someone else's style :-)

  38. #37

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    FWIW I think talent is a real thing, but I see it as the measure of how effectively you learn new skills from practice. For a talented person acquiring new skills to add to your arsenal takes less work and fewer repetitions. Ease in learning has the added bonus of being more rewarding, which in turn encourages more work.

    I have a friend I've known since eight grade. He really doesn't even like playing music much; but ever since we were thirteen he has been able to listen to something, pick up the guitar, spend a few minutes working through it, and... voila he's playing it. People would push him to play particular things, so he did. The less he liked something, the better he played it. He HATED Santana, for example, and could play any Santana solo he heard from ear indistinguishably from the recordings. But of course, he wasn't born playing Santana leads. He had to do the same process for learning the solos or a particular physical technique the rest of us did. The difference seemed to be that it would take me and my other friends weeks of working at something and only an hour or so for him.

    He never became a professional musician and, frankly, hasn't developed much as musician in the last 35 years. I became a lawyer because the work required for me to push my musical skills to a professional level was too high a bar. A couple of my music nerd friends from childhood have become successful professional musicians. They fell in a spectrum between my friend and myself.

    That said, over nearly 40 years of playing the guitar I have definitely advanced and evolved. I put in a lot of hours, and am proud of how far I've come. But it is still true that I can spend six months learning some new technique or theory. I'll go over to my friend's place to jam, demonstrate what I've been working on, and have him work it out and play it better than me by the end of the evening.

  39. #38

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    I'm not sure if I believe in innate talent for abstract things like music (maybe that's because I seem to have little experience with it myself, lol). If it does exist, I'd imagine that talent factors into one's skill at guitarin' in much the same way the human development in general works -- i.e., a combination of nature and nurture, genetics and environment.

    Instead I go by an aphorism Pa Thump would use on occasion: "Attitude plus aptitude equals altitude." Of course, he didn't mention the other leg of that triad, which is practice. It's funny how the more I practiced, the more others thought I was talented.

  40. #39

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    "FWIW I think talent is a real thing, but I see it as the measure of how effectively you learn new skills from practice. For a talented person acquiring new skills to add to your arsenal takes less work aend fewer repetitions. Ease in learning has the added bonus of being more rewarding, which in turn encourages more work."

    My feelings as well....

  41. #40

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    Talent is the ability to love...no...ACTUALLY...CRAVE the hard work it takes to be good at something.

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    Talent is the ability to love...no...ACTUALLY...CRAVE the hard work it takes to be good at something.
    I see that as "drive". I've given lessons to kids who had never picked up a golf club before and within a couple sessions were hitting the ball well. What they they do with that innate ability/talent is up to them. I've had plenty of driven students who were never gonna get to that level. When drive meets talent, look out.

  43. #42

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    Talent has nothing to do with goal setting over one's musical progress. If one knows how to set goals and how to achieve them, then we can speak about a work in progress. Even if I considered myself freakishly talented, I wouldn't still believe in my talents, I would still work through my life to set new goals and achieve them.

  44. #43

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    My talent is decidedly average. I'm an amateur in the truest sense of the word - I'm not playing as a vocation, but for the love of it. I enjoy the process of learning and applying both what I learn and what talent I have to music production. It's very much a process, not a goal at this point. Which is just as well.

  45. #44

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    If Richard Thompson and Pat Metheny are to be believed then Kenny G is a strong candidate for this accolade...



    More seriously my own view of talent is that it is present when the artist has something to say, and the level of technical ability necessary to get that message across; ideally it is then received, understood and appreciated by the audience

  46. #45

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    I am very talented in sounding like me and creating my unique stuff.

    My talent in sounding like Wes, Kenny, Grant, Bireli, Django, Martijn, Jesse, Gilad, Pat, Joe, Kurt and all the other greats is average at best.

    On a more serious note: my first goal is to have fun, so I would play regardless if I would consider myself talented or not. (Obviously when I would get boo-ed off the stage a lot, the fun would be over quickly.) Now it becomes more difficult when people ask me what price I demand to perform for them. That makes me shy. I really don't even dare to ask money because there are so many others who are so much more talented than I am.

    With my bands it's a different story: I compose the songs and I am much more confident about the artistic value of those and then I am backed up by my talented band members who do deserve payment.

  47. #46

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    The more I think about talent is that talent is mostly about being able to be obsessed with something and stay obsessed with it enough to work on it for an absurd amount of time. I started getting talented when I started practicing 2 hours a day. Last year I got a little more talented when I averaged 2.5 hours a day for the year. Since the lockdown my talent seems to be increasing because I'm doing 5 hours every day.

    I feel similarly about my naturelness as a musician. I bet I would be a really natural musician if I was at it 7 hours a day.

    For the record I don't feel like I have any talent for music particularly. Just a deep interest. Sometimes I feel like I should pack it up. For the pandemic though I recognize that it's given me something very cheap to occupy my time in an interesting way.

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    I'd like to go back and slap the shit out of 15 year old me.
    This is the problem with time travel. If it were to exist, the portals would immediately become clogged with old guitar players going back to slap the shit out of themselves.

  49. #48

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    I’m thinking talented players are ten a penny tbh. I see plenty of talent on this forum.

    The rarity is talented players who are willing to work at it at that crucial age when you can do it and understand how hard you have to work.

    OTOH you never feel like you’ve done enough work. What happens as a pro is you get busy with stuff that stops you practicing. Might be gigs...

  50. #49

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    Having seen a 15 year old in an adult combo class progress, in two years, to gigging regularly with the teachers (while his mother, a musician, complained that he didn't work hard enough at it) , I'm convinced there is such a thing as talent.

    I'm also convinced there is such a thing as genius, which is a combination of massive talent and sustained hard work.

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    Having seen a 15 year old in an adult combo class progress, in two years, to gigging regularly with the teachers (while his mother, a musician, complained that he didn't work hard enough at it) , I'm convinced there is such a thing as talent.

    I'm also convinced there is such a thing as genius, which is a combination of massive talent and sustained hard work.
    that 100% might be true but it also might be that as a 15 year old he might not be second guessing himself the way a 40 year old might in the same situation. He might be getting all kinds of positive vibes that an older player of similar ability might not (it's cool when the kid comes up and kind of sucks but has spirit, probably less cool when the old dude does the same). I've switched instruments and genres a few times and definitely notice the kids of my musician friends getting all kinds of opportunities that aren't available to me (not that they should, just watching it). Have some Irish musician friends who have two kids who both kill on their instruments on a professional level...but they grew up in a house where the very best professional players were coming over to play house concerts and every concert they would be getting up to play some tunes, and getting lessons from their parents and just hearing music constantly.

    My parents were supportive when I was a kid but also didn't know what to do to help me. My teachers were ok. And I was distracted and probably not that into it. In retrospect, if I'd paid attention or realized just how much work I needed to do, I could have either busted my ass or given it up entirely. Or something between the two. But it's only more recently that I realized that talent or not, people who end up great work their asses off, generally. Some people show initial talent and then peater out.

    Pat Metheny appears to be an obsessive practicer, then and now.