Natural Talent or a Learned Skill??

ZootELoops

Senior Member
Ok guys, Time to be brutally honest....

I have heard that there is no such thing as a "natural drummer". My instructor said that nobody becomes a good drummer without serious dedication and practice. What makes a drummer good is practice, practice, practice. People that are thought of as "naturally good" just have more time to practice.

I can understand his point to some extent, but I also see people that have a natural coordination and a gift to pick up and learn drumming concepts very quickly. I've seen 5 year olds on YouTube playing the crap out of the drums. To me that just seems like there is some natural talent or in the very least - good genes.

So, do you believe there is such a thing as a natural drummer and is it possible for someone who struggles at simple coordination to be as good a drummer as someone who possesses this natural ability?

I ask this because although my instructor says I am doing well, I watch other drummers and videos and feel like a complete spaz. For me to learn a groove or a beat, i have to work on it really, really hard. Some concepts just frustrate the hell out of me and I feel like I'll never get the hang of it. How long should it take for someone to go from novice to at least able to play with a group?

Just me thinking out loud.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
It's a learned skill, but there is something to be said for "natural talent", or rather, the ability to learn quickly.

Music is a language, and the kids you see on youtube have been learning to speak music since they were little. The brain is much more open to learning complex things like a language until we're about 8 to 10 years old. You could say that these kids are bilingual...
 

king fail

Senior Member
i believe there is at least a small amount of truth in that; some people seem to have natural rhythm, co-ordination and feel for musicality.
One instance for example, a dude in my year at school has never had a lesson and basically never devoted any time to the instrument, but when he picks up the sticks HOT DAMN!!
I mean, he's not throwing down chops beyond expectations, but when he plays a simple beat for instance, you can see that every single cell in his body is devoted to the music, that guy LIVES IN THE POCKET.

to be fair, there's basically no technique and his dynamic range is basically mf to ff
but still, just watching him is so entertaining!

i guess it really does need to be seen to be understood.
 

maddrummr

Platinum Member
Nobody besides Buddy Rich. But you don't get guys like that every day. So getting to a high skill level takes practice. For some people they are higher on the learning curve than others. And some people ctan pick up things faser than other people. There can be, though, a level of naturalness just like people are naturally better at shooting or driving than others.
 

paramac

Member
It CAN be a very "loose term" I believe. Some folks are more natural just like sports but it's hard to quantify or measure unless you know the full story..Who's to say that if I was born into a family of great dancers that I might groove a lot more than I do. (I hope! lol!) A lot depends on what a person is exposed to. I have heard people say "Black people just have rythm' or something to that effect.. Is it because the color of their skin?? Heck no! It's a cultural thing like maybe growing up and around say a gospel church where the music is awesome and every week you have a church full of maybe a couple hundred people clapping and dancing theirs hearts out to celibrate God, love, hope or whatever it may be and that just has to be a great enviroment to be in as far as developing "natural rythm" I remember reading an interview of Rick Marrotta and he said he was a real good dancer before he played drums so when I sat down to play the drums he could instantly groove hard. I'm sure he had to practice technique of course but he did it right from the start with GROOVE and FEEL being at the forefront and in his mind/body. I didn't start out like that though I wish I did..I started out being mesmerized but Niel Peart and Ian Pace and guys like that..It has only been through experience that I started to learn about laying down a nice groove or swinging. Other guys too like Gadd, Papa Jo, Billy Higgins and plenty more I'm sure started dancing or did it at the same time...
 
Last edited:

paramac

Member
Nobody besides Buddy Rich. But you don't get guys like that every day. So getting to a high skill level takes practice. For some people they are higher on the learning curve than others. And some people ctan pick up things faser than other people. There can be, though, a level of naturalness just like people are naturally better at shooting or driving than others.
Good point! I would of LOVED to have seen/heard Buddy when he was 3 yrs old. I believe that was when his parents decided to retire from Vaudville and just manage him because he was so tremendous and just over shadowing them anyway, so I've read. He might of been older than 3 but in any case, I would love to have witnessed that...Damn....
 

EltonBear

Junior Member
So in the entirety of the thousands of years of history of Homo Sapiens, and hundreds of years of conscious music, you think that one and only one drummer had any natural talent?

Of course I realise you are not being literal, but there are loads of drummers with a great level of natural talent. Generally the groovy ones. I would be willing to bet that Thomas Lang has not one iota of talent, but a phenomenal drive to practice, learn, and constantly better himself. Buddy said he never practised - but do you believe him? I certainly don't.

In any case I'm pretty he's widely misquoted on that. He considers "practice" to be just "playing", rather than a specific thing you do. This is the case with many truly great musicians.
 
R

Royal

Guest
Some players have achieved all the technical skills & speed in the world & practice thousands of hours, but I think that alone won't necessarily make them a really good drummer.

You need a natural feel/talent for a certain instrument & then work hard to maximise that talent.
You also need to have all round musical talent.

Just my 2 yens worth.
 

ZootELoops

Senior Member
Some players have achieved all the technical skills & speed in the world & practice thousands of hours, but I think that alone won't necessarily make them a really good drummer.

You need a natural feel/talent for a certain instrument & then work hard to maximise that talent.
You also need to have all round musical talent.

Just my 2 yens worth.
With that rationale, you would be saying that if you don't have a natural talent, you will never be as good as someone who does - or it will result in countless hours of fruitless effort?
 
M

Mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
Some players have achieved all the technical skills & speed in the world & practice thousands of hours, but I think that alone won't necessarily make them a really good drummer.

You need a natural feel/talent for a certain instrument & then work hard to maximise that talent.
You also need to have all round musical talent.

Just my 2 yens worth.
I just don't think that's true. Take the example of my brother. He is a stunning technical pianist and he is very musical. Whilst he has all the advantages and has worked INCREDIBLY hard, natural ability can only get you so far. Robert Fripp is a great example of the opposite; basically a tone-deaf trainee estate agent. Now whatever you think of his music, you have to admit it is interesting and he is a technically brilliant guitar player - I'd call him a virtuoso. He has worked incredibly hard to get to the level he is at and even with very limited natural ability you can do it provided you put the work in.

Sure those with natural ability have an inherent headstart, but it tends to be those with the natural abilities don't work hard enough at it and can take it for granted. Then they can actually fall behind those who've just worked really hard. Music is like anything. Somebody may have a brilliant logical mind, but that doesn't meant they'll make a great computer programmer - they have to learn it. Somebody without a logical mind can be taught code - I've seen it happen. Hell, my mind is logical but I can also work on a completely irrational and surreal basis and I'm learning some basic computer code.

Music is obviously a creative art and those with a musical aptitude are obviously at a creative advantage at the beginning, but I'm one to believe that musical ability and musical skills can be learned so that even the most unmusical person (Robert Fripp) can become somebody who is capable of beautiful (or indeed abstract) artistic expression.
 
R

Royal

Guest
or it will result in countless hours of fruitless effort?
Hopefully not.

I think that you can be a good player by working hard, but I feel what sets many of these big name players (& some that are not famous) apart, IS a natural ability, plus hard work, musicianship etc.
 

TheGroceryman

Silver Member
no doubt about it, natural talent definitely exists....some people are just born musically talented, i dont know how that happens but it does...

2 examples, both recently graduated from my school summer 08, they were basically identical in their musical ability. They've never taken any lessons on ANY instrument EVER, but one was probably the best trombone player to come out of our school, and the other was one of the best drummers, guitarists, harp players, double bass, piano, he can literally play any and every instrument, all you had to do was put it in his hands and he made music. They both had perfect pitch, they both had horrible drumming technique, but they were incredible drummers. and not once did either of them take a lesson.

...So yea, natural ability exists.
 

Fiery

Silver Member
To me that just seems like there is some natural talent or in the very least - good genes.
That's the same thing ;)

Yes, off course natural talent exists, and in many different aspects of life.
In fact, I'm sure there are different talents that enable some people a head start over others. There is the musicality, good pitch, a feeling of groove and melody and there is good body coordination, flexibility, speed, balance (though a lot of people with one talent also have the other, as well as higher than average intelligence and other talents).

An untalented drummer with a lot of enthusiasm and hard work can still become very profficient, good enough to get noticed and become pro if that's the ambition, but I believe the truly stellar drummers were all very talented to begin with. (And this goes to all other professions or activities, writers, mathematicians, sportsmen, etc.)
 

scrowder

Member
I think natural talent is bulls***. It's an idea that humans created to make us feel better about ourselves when we witness somebody do something extraordinary. When a person picks up something quickly, it's NOT because they have a skill programmed at conception that the rest of us didn't get. That's absurd. Some people have already learned certain skills at other times in their life that allow them to pick up other things quickly -- not because it's "natural", but because they already did some of the work. Traits like personality and confidence hugely affect the way we play music, and the way others perceive our performances as good or bad. These are skills that can be worked on and shaped. They are not predestined, permanent characteristics that we are genetically or otherwise bound to. We can all achieve extraordinary things with work in the right areas, as long as we have methods that will get us there, and, given that there's not an unchangeable physical or mental condition that will stop us. : )
 

ilanten

Member
i think it all comes down to passion, and finding you place in the music.
not evreybody can be Steve Smith or on the other hand Ringo Starr.

each one has its own voice and it's just a matter of using it in the right place and time,
 
Sure there is natural talent. Buddy Rich played so many gigs that was his practice. We all could wood shed 10 hours a day for 40 years and never play like Buddy. Not even close.
I could take sking lessons for 18 more years. And I still couldnt make it 10 ft without falling on my ass.
You cant force something that you have no talent for.
 

Toza

Senior Member
Budy Rich didn't practice but he played drums for 10 hours a day :)
 
Last edited:

h3r3tic

Silver Member
I don't believe in gifted drummers. I believe that there were never gifted drummers!
What I DO believe is in hard work! yes of course there are people that can understand how to play instrument quicker than others but that's normal because the same thing goes to school stuff when one understands algebra faster than another person for example.

What happens is that that same person will continue to work hard and work hard and at a certain point they will seem so magical and gifted because they can execute those "understandings" with great ease and confidence!

You don't born a drummer you just have to love drumming, love music and just work hard. Some just work harder than others and that's just fine!! :D
 

sciomako

Silver Member
Like any other skills, I think it won't be too wrong to say:

P = N x H

where P is performance, N is natural talent and H is hardwork.

Someone who is gifted can pick things up quick; someone without much talent can compensate that with a lot of hard work

100 x 1 = 1 x 100
 

TheMarkV

Member
the way i see it, there is an aspect of natural feel for the whole drumming thing. there really is. but thats just a starting point, and from there you build with hard worked chops and fine tuned ability. but there's still a idea of natural ability to learn drums quickly. and then there's another side of it that can just be called musically adept. there's a lot that goes into it.
 
Top