Natural Talent or a Learned Skill??

jonescrusher

Pioneer Member
This is just a fact,

No it's not, just your opinion. The luck of environmental factors you're born into combined with intellectual advantages are far more telling than somehow being born hard-wired to play an instrument.

As Hedon says, it's about being predisposed to a certain kind of learning. A good musician is a good musician regardless of their primary instrument.
 

dairyairman

Platinum Member
You guys are kidding yourselves if you think no one is more talented than anyone else, and that being a great drummer is just a matter of work. I've played professionally for forty years, and you'd best believe there are gifted drummers, just like there are gifted athletes and artists and singers. There are also a few unfortunates who will never be able to play well. This is just a fact, and not meant to discourage anyone.
you're probably right about that, but i've never seen a great drummer, or any great musician who didn't work really hard to get to that point. i think anyone who thinks it's possible to get to the top of the drumming heap without a lot of time behind the kit is kidding themselves. however, i will admit that some people seem to be able do it with less effort than others. and there are people (like buddy rich) who seem to be able to get really good just by playing a whole lot, without any focused study or training.

i can also see that some people just don't seem to have greatness in them, no matter how hard they try. i'm probably one of those people. but i do believe that anyone can get better at their instrument with a little bit of determination and work, no matter what their current level or natural ability.
 

Strangelove

Gold Member
Are there great golfers out there? Are there amateurs who have been taking lessons from a Pro for 20-30 years that just can't get any better? Are there in betweens?

Drumming is no different. Yes you have to work at it and practice - everyone does, even the greats. But not everyone is going to be great, either.
 

Fiery

Silver Member
how about plain intelligence?
What you described is not plain intelligence, it's musicality.

From personal experience, I have no musical talent worth speaking of, but I can figure out what I'm supposed to do fairly quickly. On the other hand there's a friend of mine, a much better drummer than me and a very solid guitarist too, whom I consider to be very musical.
I'll figure out a complicated beat (say, a polyrhythm) much quicker than him, but he will make it sound much better than I ever could. I'm always more aware of what I'm playing and why I'm playing it, but he will always sound better.
 

shiftless

Junior Member
As Hedon says, it's about being predisposed to a certain kind of learning. A good musician is a good musician regardless of their primary instrument.
not true. i tried to learn guitar for years and was terrible at it. it took me forever to learn simple things that others picked up pretty quickly.

rewind several years back to basic training when i picked up a bass drum for the first time in my life and attempted to play along with the others who were mostly ex band geeks. i wasnt too good as i recall, due to need of practice--yet within a week i realized i had completely memorized the somewhat complicated SNARE drum part and could play it back in my head or drum it out on a hard surface verbatim, simply from hearing others play it. i have a good feel for rhythm and beats it seems.

after my guitar got stolen i bought a drum set, and literally within minutes was turning out pretty damn impressive beats, though i had no "technical proficiency" or "technique" whatsoever. it's all in simply feeling the groove.

It's not uncommon for people with a lot of talent to practice long hours because what they play is satisfying - they are receiving encouraging aural feedback.
EXACTLY. guitar was very frustrating for me and because of that i did not practice as hard as i needed to in order to really learn it. yet with drumming coming so natural its nothing to just jump on the set and start playing, and keep playing, and i just get a lot more enjoyment out of it, especially since i can tell that i am improving each time.

everyone is right when they say that natural talent is only part of it though. although im a "natural" it means nothing without practice and experience. i made Cs in school while others who werent as smart as me made straight As, cause they worked their asses off and i didnt. likewise im sure theres plenty of so-so drummers out there who have more years of playing and could out drum me no prob.

my main problem is its extremely difficult for me to read music off paper and then turn that into sounds in my head. like rudiments, i spent forever trying to learn some of them, only to realize that the final sound i was aiming for was one that i could already play perfectly to begin with. once i heard what it was supposed to sound like, i could just play it, or pick it up very quickly. i learn way faster if i put on a song and just play along with it. i envy those who can read a tab or sheet music and immediately translate that into sounds though because it can be really difficult to follow along with a fast or complicated drum beat with all the other distracting noise (singing, guitar, etc) drowning out the beat.

it's definitely not as simple as an all encompassing "being good at music". percussion is a different thing than stringed or other instruments and there a lot of different factors at work that contribute to one's talent or lack thereof.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Yep Shiftless, if you're Vinnie or Steve Gadd, why wouldn't you practice? Every time you put stick to skin magic happens. The early feedback is a big deal in encouraging us to play more.

Having said that, when you start up delusion and musical naivete are helpful, which is why it's good to take up an instrument early in life. You might be rotten but the instrument's intrinsic timbres give you such a kick that you don't get discouraged, at least until your first rejections. Yes, I'm speaking from experience :)

Drive and persistence can be huge for some people - even a bloody minded determination to prove someone wrong. There are a number of paths and no set formula.

One thing of which I'm certain - there is no level playing field any more than all kids are school have equal aptitude with maths.
 

MisterZero

Senior Member
Great question. great answers. I woul disagree slightly. I think there is natural ability, but ultimately comes down to old fashioned practice. Also, sometimes "natural ability" can be misinterpreted. If a child can throw a ball further, or skateboard better than his/her peers, it can come down to numerous factor. Naturally stronger? more focused? "Natural ability" needs a definition here. Some people learn things faster than others, but the reasons may not be entirley known. Maybe the slower learners are simply doing it wrong. Maybe they lack motivation. I've seen it in youth hockey all the time. Effort is a bigger driving force. But, there is an intangible quality. We can call this " natural ability". Look at Olympians. They all train hard around the clock, 24-7, but still, there are dominant athletes that they can't beat. I could practice running every day. but never be as fast as an olymipc sprinter...never. But drums are, of course, different. So, to sum up...I don't know. :)
 

cnw60

Senior Member
I've heard it said that humans are funny because we're willing to embrace the fact that heredity and lineage is vitally important in everything from rosebushes to racehorses, but we're offended if somebody suggests that it matters wrt our own species.
 

jonescrusher

Pioneer Member
not true. i tried to learn guitar for years and was terrible at it. it took me forever to learn simple things that others picked up pretty quickly.

rewind several years back to basic training when i picked up a bass drum for the first time in my life and attempted to play along with the others who were mostly ex band geeks. i wasnt too good as i recall, due to need of practice--yet within a week i realized i had completely memorized the somewhat complicated SNARE drum part and could play it back in my head or drum it out on a hard surface verbatim, simply from hearing others play it. i have a good feel for rhythm and beats it seems.

after my guitar got stolen i bought a drum set, and literally within minutes was turning out pretty damn impressive beats, though i had no "technical proficiency" or "technique" whatsoever. it's all in simply feeling the groove.
Well, a number of things there. It's hard to evaluate your own experience against my argument as I don't know what level of skill you've attained on drums. My point was that there are certain intellectual qualities that make for a good musician, not that a person is simply born predisposed to be able to play any instrument well. If a person becomes proficient on one instrument they won't immediately sound good on another from scratch. But, they will carry over the skills learned on the one instrument to the other. For example,when an understanding of rhythm (feeling the 1, beat placement, subdivisions etc.) is acquired on the drums, that immediately gives an advantage when learning the guitar. The techniques unique to the guitar will still have to be learned - strumming, picking, fingerings, music theory.

I'd venture that if you stick to the drums and learn the craft thoroughly, go back to the guitar in a few years and things will feel much more natural
 

jonescrusher

Pioneer Member
What you described is not plain intelligence, it's musicality.

From personal experience, I have no musical talent worth speaking of, but I can figure out what I'm supposed to do fairly quickly..

That you can figure out what to do/what's involved in a particular beat is your 'talent' - many would see your ability to pick things up quickly and describe it as a classic case of 'musicality'. Your friend making things sound better could be down to him practicing more, or concentrating his practice on different things. Maybe he works harder and listens more intently to microtiming issues. That could be drawn from past experience or pieces of advice that you haven't been privy to.
 

Mastercast

Junior Member
The one thing that has to be natural is rhythm! I've met 3 people without rhythm and discovered it cannot be taught. You have the beat or you don't.
 

jeanlee411

Junior Member
Well, a number of things there. It's hard to evaluate your own experience against my argument as I don't know what level of skill you've attained on drums. My point was that there are certain intellectual qualities that make for a good musician, not that a person is simply born predisposed to be able to play any instrument well. If a person becomes proficient on one instrument they won't immediately sound good on another from scratch. But, they will carry over the skills learned on the one instrument to the other. For example,when an understanding of rhythm (feeling the 1, beat placement, subdivisions etc.) is acquired on the drums, that immediately gives an advantage when learning the guitar. The techniques unique to the guitar will still have to be learned - strumming, picking, fingerings, music theory.

I'd venture that if you stick to the drums and learn the craft thoroughly, go back to the guitar in a few years and things will feel much more natural
I've heard it said that humans are funny because we're willing to embrace the fact that heredity and lineage is vitally important in everything from rosebushes to racehorses, but we're offended if somebody suggests that it matters wrt our own species.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Well, a number of things there. It's hard to evaluate your own experience against my argument as I don't know what level of skill you've attained on drums. My point was that there are certain intellectual qualities that make for a good musician, not that a person is simply born predisposed to be able to play any instrument well. If a person becomes proficient on one instrument they won't immediately sound good on another from scratch. But, they will carry over the skills learned on the one instrument to the other. For example,when an understanding of rhythm (feeling the 1, beat placement, subdivisions etc.) is acquired on the drums, that immediately gives an advantage when learning the guitar. The techniques unique to the guitar will still have to be learned - strumming, picking, fingerings, music theory.

I'd venture that if you stick to the drums and learn the craft thoroughly, go back to the guitar in a few years and things will feel much more natural
That was so well articulated, Jones. Still, there's also the innate ability of musicians to feel their way into new instruments. A guitarist in one of my old bands could pick up any instrument and start making pleasing sounds within seconds - percussion of any type, sax, trumpet, piano, clarinet, whatever. Great natural rhythm and touch.

That was always something I wanted to be able to do and I tried to follow his lead ... to work out how he did it, what it was he was doing. I picked up a bit simply by seeing that it was possible, so the gift is transferable ... to some extent, but it depends on what you have inside.

People with that kind of gift are wonderful to play with. They can teach you so much without saying a word.
 

JT1

Silver Member
I think there have been threads on this before but without reading what others have read I will say, Natural talent can only get you so far, and learning talent will only get you so far. I was told I had natural talent as I was self taught and was apparently pretty good for the amount of time I had been playing. However I got tired and sick of playing the same stuff for 7 years and I would say I had peaked (I'm nothing special either), so 2 month ago I started taking lessons, one of the best things I've ever done I'm learning new stuff, different things that I never thought I would play in a million years and not only that, the things I used to play are starting to sound so much better than they did. I'm pleased I did it this way though because I have developed my own style and ideas and now I'm learning new ways to express them through lessons. Both will do wonders for you especially if used together.
 
The first time I sat behind a kit, I could play a straight 4/4 beat with all limbs. I self taught for a few years and played with bands, improving as I went. However, I do not consider myself a great drumming talent! I took a few lessons and as I read the notes and listened to my tutor, I realised that I knew a lot of what he showed me but I hadn`t really understood what I was doing:) I believe I have had rythym and coordination since I was born and therefore would always be able to play rythym instruments but even with 8 hours practice every day, I doubt I could ever be a Steve Gadd.
I had a friend who couldn`t dance but wanted to be a drummer. He took lessons for months and felt he was not progressing as much as he should. He changed teachers and his new teacher told him after four lessons that he did not think he would ever play the drums to a satisfactory level.
I guess what I am saying is that to be a top performer you need it all but to be a happy drummer doing what makes you smile, all you need is a little natural talent, a little bit of practice, a little rythym and a whole lot of love for the noise you make!!!
 

Fiery

Silver Member
That you can figure out what to do/what's involved in a particular beat is your 'talent' - many would see your ability to pick things up quickly and describe it as a classic case of 'musicality'. Your friend making things sound better could be down to him practicing more, or concentrating his practice on different things. Maybe he works harder and listens more intently to microtiming issues. That could be drawn from past experience or pieces of advice that you haven't been privy to.
This will be somewhat long and

I would agree my, for lack of better word, intellect is my "talent", but it's nowhere near being musical. My approach is much more mechanical and thought out. I prefer sitting down and writing my parts rather than working them out in rehearsal. One of the main reasons I took up drums is because I couldn't really figure out the guitar or bass the same way - it takes some musicality to work out pitches.
I'm not complaining, I'm simply aware of what I have and I'm figuring out what I can do with it.

True, a part of the difference with the friend of mine is that he's had a few years of experience more, and that he played with better musicians form the start which to be more aware of timing and sound issues. On the other hand, he obviously has better pitch than me and his approach and ideas are simply different, musical as opposed to mechanical. A lot of things he plays, he isn't even aware of what exactly he does, just what it sounds like. I mean, until recently he wasn't even aware of what hand he started his rolls with.

He always did what came natural to him when learning how to play, as did I. I think that the differences in how we approach our playing reflect the differences in out innate talents. The reason I feel his talent should be labeled "musicality" rather than mine is that it works rather well for pitched instruments too, unlike my approach. Just to make things even clearer (hopefully), he is not the kind of musical super-talent Pollyanna mentioned, though we both met that kind of musicians. I used him as an example because I feel (and he agreed when we talked about it) that when it comes to natural talent, I lack exactly what he has and vice-versa.
 

fuzzydrummer

Junior Member
I have never taken a lesson in my life. It seems like ever since i sat behind a kit for the first time i have just understood the concepts of playing the drums. I am self taught and there is quite a bit of drum lingo that i do not understand but after researching and trying to learn more and more I have become more of a knowledgeable drummer.
 
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