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Teachers: How many of your students have REAL talent?


crystal
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Here's my 2 cents. Everyone may be created equal in the big picture, but when you start breaking peoples abilities down there are definite innate differences. I have not taught enough students to speak as a teacher, but I have observed enough students grow into mature performers that I have a definite opinion on this.

I have known both those that have such innate talent that they hardly ever need to practice, and those that do not have this "innate" ability. My definition of talent has to do mostly with the sound they produce and the naturalness of their playing.

I have seen instrumentalists who "did not have it" work very very hard and become proficient professional musicians, but their playing is still bland and "awkward". They can become fine orchestral musicians, and even sometimes make good teachers, but they never become good to the point that I really care to hear them play recital or solos.

On the other hand I have known msuicians who had the talent, and even though they may not practice enough or develop to their potential technically, they can always sing on their instrument, and are always a joy to listen too. This 'talent' becomes apparent early in the musicians development.

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quote:

Originally posted by DR. S:

I have known both those that have such innate talent that they hardly ever need to practice, and those that do not have this "innate" ability. My definition of talent has to do mostly with the sound they produce and the naturalness of their playing.

I have seen instrumentalists who "did not have it" work very very hard and become proficient professional musicians, but their playing is still bland and "awkward". They can become fine orchestral musicians, and even sometimes make good teachers, but they never become good to the point that I really care to hear them play recital or solos.

On the other hand I have known msuicians who had the talent, and even though they may not practice enough or develop to their potential technically, they can always sing on their instrument, and are always a joy to listen too. This 'talent' becomes apparent early in the musicians development.

Dr S.,

This is where I find the very interesting problem that many have come across...what is musical and what is sound/tone production? There is a generally accepted principle on tone production, agreed. There's a very definite and easy way to do this....but where the problem comes in and where I have found it, is in having an 'individual' sound, a clearly different and pleasant sound and tone - - - well I think you know where I'm going with this. I don't think it is a clear cut answer, and obviously, (and this is in my opinion and partially spurred on by Perlman's comments in the "Art of violin") this individuality of sound is not apparent anymore. So what is musical, and how can you determine this so clearly in very young children? Musical to one person may not be musical to another. Also, is musicality just following the notes on a page...being a perfect order-taker, doing only that which is written? Isn't that clearly the ideal for a conductor looking for a perfect orchestra member? (and there's nothing wrong with that mind you...Orchestral jobs are hard to get, and few and far between! I'd love to have one of those jobs if only I were talented enough to get one :-).) I don't know, I have a lot of questions, which I search for answers that change off and on over the years. I have a theory about all this which I'm not steady enough to voice, and would rather hold it to myself.

Children who, "don't have it", as you put it: Is it because of intonation?, Lack of emotionality? Insufficient whatever.... There are too many subjectives, and ways to address this issue. I've seen children who developed later into very musical personalities, all at once, and all of sudden as if - "bang" it hit home at one time. I've also seen very musical personalites, which later on became very out-of-tune players due partially perhaps to their 'innate' talent encouraging itself to lack of practice. So, I don't think this is an easy topic to address or come up with perfect solutions. As a teacher, I only try to bring out the best I can in my students. That's all I can hope for, and hope that they will feel as fulfilled in their musical expression later in life. I can't tell you how much music is important no matter what walk of life you are in: I'm not a professional musician, but I feel that musical expression is very much a part of my life.

For what it's worth, I honestly believe that intelligent people make the best musicians. So in my mind, study and learn as much, and in as many areas, as is possible.

Regards,

J

[This message has been edited by JKF (edited 12-20-2001).]

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I agree wholeheartedly with Candace. It makes not a whit of difference whether the beautiful violin you hear on the radio was played by a 14 year old who started playing at age two or if it's played by a 55 year old who practiced diligently for 2 hours a day since he took it up at 35. Both of them have talent. Anybody who has the patience and desire to study an instrument as "difficult" as the violin, and to attend lessons and practice regularly has talent of a sort. (It's interesting too that some of the best works for violin were written by composers who didn't play it; Brahms, for example.)

For a teacher to dismiss 90 percent of their students as "lacking talent" is a callous attitude. If that many students in, say, a French class just "didn't get it", I'd expect the teacher to seriously reexamine their teaching methods.

To be sure, some students have the experience and the immediate affinity for technique that these university teachers seem to cherish. As for the rest, well, there are many teachers who'd be thrilled to help a struggling student who might just want to play for the sheer enjoyment of it. And thus I end my rant.

Marc Rodvien

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"There is a generally accepted principle on tone production, agreed. There's a very definite and easy way to do this....but where the problem comes in and where I have found it, is in having an 'individual' sound, a clearly different and pleasant sound and tone - - - "

VERY interesting issue, JKF. And I agree with what you said all the way.

Yet I believe that you can't have the "generally accepted" part of the first sentence while trying to maintain the 'individual' at the same time.

In trying to sound in a "generally accepted" way, one must alter his violinistic mechanics in order to generate that style. Not that there's anything "wrong" with that, though my students and I often told that what I'm doing and teaching them is "wrong" because nobody else does it nowadays.

Some of my students (actually, ALL of my students) have their violinistic idiosyncrasies (i.e. things they do that I don't WANT them to do). But after a while, I decided to just let those things go as long as they were having fun playing and sounding the way they wanted to. If a problem arises due to their not doing what I tell them to do, I simply offer the suggestion but let them take or leave the advice.

By forcing my students to do exactly as I did, they'd end up sounding more like ME and less like THEMSELVES.

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I think high general intelligence is helpful to a player, certainly. IQ tests on top professional symphony musicians show that they have the lowest IQs of similarly accomplished professionals (when compared to scientists with Ph.D.s, to CEOs, and so forth), but as a whole they still have IQs that are two standard deviations above the norm (around 130, if I recall correctly).

High general intelligence certainly also helps a player juggle music as well as other required life activities, like schoolwork.

Some element of being considered "talented" means learning quickly, and developing a flexible framework around what one has learned so that alterations can be made easily. No doubt general intelligence is a factor in this.

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To those teachers who think that only a couple of their students have talent, this is to you:

I was born with natural talent. My father's side of the family has musical talent that I was born with. I can play many instuments and am learning new things about them every day.

I'm sure that the students you say aren't talented, would like you to share that information with them. crazy.gif

Sure, some students just don't seem to be fit for the violin, but it's like michael jordan. His coach wouldn't let him on the team.The coach didn't think he had talent.

Even if they don't have talent, most of them try harder than you imagine. They want to be good. If they found out you ever said that, you would discourage them in every way.

-student

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Thanks lwl for answering my question. I thought that it would make a lot of sense that a relatively higher IQ would help me w/ maybe understanding talent.

To those who feel offended by what those two teachers say, I can understand where all of you are coming from. However, not everyone can be born w/ talent. That's life.

As to what the teachers said, you don't know that they were looking down at the students. All we have heard is that they stated that only two of their students have talent. But we don't know that they don't appreciate the students that they don't consider have talent.

I believe that the subject about what is real talent is, has been brought up on this board before. I think that talent is a whole soup (pardon my bad analogy) of ingredients. Talent is when all the right things happen and concentrate at the same time, just like the macroeconomic equilibrium that we capitalists try to reach. When everything comes together, something spectacular arises.

My point is that not everyone will have talent, otherwise we all would be living in heaven. The assumption that the two afore mentioned teachers look down at most of their students shouldn't be made. It's okay to recognize talent, but does that always mean that when we do that, we look down at others who work hard? I don't think so. We as humans can appreciate both.

Just my humble opinion.

Diana smile.gif

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Yes not every1 will have talent...I think I mentioned that smile.gif... by definition, talent means a natural ability or skill. and i agree not everyone will have the natural ability or skill to play the violin; or for that matter any instument.

ONe thing i'm trying to get across is that most people who have"no talent" know and understand the basics: like the different time length in beats,which notes to play ,etc.I think that the reason some have "no talent" is because they don't understand the music itself. They don't understand what a teacher may mean when they say,"play with some emotion!"(@ the risk of sounding corny)To me that is what talent is; Understanding the emotion you are ment to feel when you hear a song.( or play)

That doesn't always come naturaly. Though I agree with this, I still think it was wrong to say a student has no talent. Maybe that teacher can help build talent. Talent doesn't come out of nowhere

just what I think. If I were a teacher, I would never say a student has no talent.

-lilangel

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Talent has many forms. The IQ we usually refer to is the general intelligent quotient. Talents exist in pockets, and some are specially talented in one aspect, without having a high IQ. So does high IQ mean doing better with the violin than another with a lower IQ? Of course not. Just look at some people who are extremely well at playing chess, but not really doing well in their academics. Some doing very well in music, and poor in anything. Even the talent of music is so diverse. I certainly agree very much with HKV who said that violin is a very physical activity. The talent to play the violin not only involve musicality, but also involve physicality. You can be so musical, and everything, imagining every phrasing, etc, but simply does not have the physical strength, skill, or coordination to carry out what you want. That is why, some can just compose, and they cannot perform, or even conduct. So, all in all, what is interpretted as talent in violin, is actually a combination of musicality, motor talent, and hard work. Lacking too much of any of them is a hurdle. The product of its combination is what we see, and interpretted as the talent of that person.

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quote:

Originally posted by lilangel:

If I were a teacher, I would never say a student has no talent.

-lilangel

Lilangel:

If you were a teacher, you may never say this but you would think it. These are two teachers discussing their profession. They did not discuss names of their students. And again, they were not being mean. I heard the entire conversation.

I am sorry if this is offensive but music, as with everything in life, there are those that it comes easy for and those that have to work very hard and still can't do it well. It doesn't mean that you boot out every student that you don't feel is talented. I guess if you're one of the top teachers in the world, then you can be choosy about who you take on as a student or not. But to most teachers out there, they take students of all talent levels. Teaching is their bread and butter. But as a teacher you do know if a student is going to go somewhere with it or if they probably won't. I don't see why this should be such a problem.

My son at 7 can whiz through a page of 50 math problems and get them all correct in a matter of minutes, whereas most of the students can't even come near finishing the page. He is good at math. Some aren't.

My daughter is excellent at creative writing. The stories just flow so naturally for her. She has to work really hard at math. Everyone can't be naturally wonderful at everything, but it doesn't mean you should stop trying. It does mean you can take an honest look at yourself and know where your weaknesses lie.

If you're a teacher, you are also honest with yourself. They see this every day, you know.

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I take the word talent to mean a natural aptitude. There are prodigies with outstanding natural aptitude and usually a “stage mother” parent too that pushes the child too. Most of us don’t have that kind of talent. For violin some of it is physical in the same way that you are born able to throw a baseball at 95 miles an hour.

IQ tests don’t measure musical ability and a host of other useful mental abilities. In terms of achievement, personality factors are a lot more important. People out on the fringe of the bell curve aren’t normal by definition. This applies to the musical ability bell curve too. Teachers don’t often find that kind of talent but they will find some and try to encourage it.

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crystal, smile.gif

hi,I read what you said and I do agree with most of it. smile.gifBut when I said ,I would never say a student has no talent, I ment that I just wouldn't say it. I just don't think I could ever say that to anyone. Sure you're right, I probably would know if a student was going anywhere with their music. And you're right again, I might think it, it's just that those words sound so harsh to me. I wouldn't ever use those words "no real talaent"

I understand what you're saying and i'm sure the teachers weren't being mean, but my opinion is that, if a student wants to play and they have real talent, they'll play to their full potential(most of the time) but others who don't have real talent are trying just as hard too(most of the time). I'm only offended that the other students try so hard and then they just have no "real talent".Even though I guess it could be true, another thing is, that I didn't mean it was wrong of them to say students have no talent, I ment I would never say it. That's all smile.gif

-lilangel smile.gif

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I apologize if I spoke hastily. Those teachers may have been assessing "innate" ability and affinity not only for the instument, which it is true, very few students have when they start out. They would be the ones who have to work very hard, and even then (I know it's true in my own case) it may take a very long time before they learn a particular concept.

Not having read Crystal's later posting (for which, sorry) I was under the impression that the teachers were talking about potential, which is in large part determined by drive and diligence on the part of the student; they have an idea of a sound they want to make, and somehow the violin is the tool for them with which to make it.

I didn't mean to say that everyone who takes up the violin has the potential to become the next Heifetz. I do think that anyone who takes up the instrument for whatever reason has potential to produce an enjoyable sound, and more than anything the talent is to have that sound in mind in the first place.

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quote:

Originally posted by Klezmerfrombama:

I do think that anyone who takes up the instrument for whatever reason has potential to produce an enjoyable sound, and more than anything the talent is to have that sound in mind in the first place.

I wholeheartedly agree with this. Even if it's Twinkle Twinkle. Everyone can learn to play "a tune" on the instrument. But really, compared to all the millions of people out there, there are but a few who do it well. Of course the number decreases rapidly, when you move from Twinkle Twinkle to Bach's Minuet, etc. etc.

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