Natural Talent or a Learned Skill??

nocTurnal

Senior Member
Even that is pure rubbish. He practiced more than most in history have practiced and he did so from a very, very, very young age. He was born on stage and attached to a drumset so to speak.

That myth of Rich hardly practicing came about later in his career from an interview in which he said he doesn't practice anymore, meaning at that stage he didn't practice because he was playing every single night for hours on end. That's still more practice than ninety-five % of people get at any age. It was also playing/practice which develops skill much quicker.
Great post here. This says it all for me. I just wanted to add that recent research suggests that 10,000 hours of effective and deliberate practice will make you a master of your instrument. Keyword here is "effective." Recent popular books such as "This Is Your Brain On Music" and "The Outliers" both point this out with examples. Yes, as many of you have pointed out there are natural born talents like Mozart. But these types are few and far between. The majority of musicians who mastered their instrument put in the 10,000 hours of effective practice that these two recent books talk about.
 

Meat the beat

Senior Member
I have resisted this thread for ages as I though my view was too simplistic, but finally, I'm gonna share it...

I think anyone can learn anything if they have the starting blocks to learn. But, there are people in every walk of life who do have a natural talent, and those are the people who just seem to be able to do it that much easier.

Me? I gotta work hard at almost everything...
 

heatherYo

Junior Member
I'm fairly certain natural talent is a real thing...I mean I started playing in a band when I was 12, had never played drums before in any way shape or form but could play beats in 4/4, 3/4, 6/8 12/8, shuffles etc and make up my own beats pretty much immediately...I'm still in a band and still never had any lessons. In terms of real technical stuff eg rolls, rudiments, fancy fills that kinda thing obviously it's total guess-work for me, but when you only play in band that's not really the most important thing, the most important thing is feeding off other people's energy and providing the groove and understanding genres, which is something I've never had an issue with. I have 2 friends who took lessons age 12-13 at the same time I was learning and neither of them got anywhere past a standard 4/4 rock beat and gave up despite owning drum kits at home. Equally, I know a guy who takes lessons and is now amazing at soloing but has trouble playing in time to other people because he thinks he's the most important guy in the band, and has trouble just jamming. Obviously I'm only 15 and don't know many pro drummers. My point is...MUSICALITY OVER TECHNICALITY
 

AudioWonderland

Silver 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.
Its both. There are some people who could practice all day everyday and never play the the most basic rhythm in time. There are others who race through the preliminaries quite quickly. To advance to the highest levels of playing requires a lot of quality practice time and dedication
 

BillRayDrums

Gold Member
This is my son who just got a cast off his right hand that was there for five weeks. Before that there was another cast that was on for five weeks; he broke his thumb twice in a row!

This is him two days after getting it off, and zero practice for over two months, almost three. If this isn't genetics or "natural talent" then I don't know what it is. The kid hasn't gotten "bit by the dragon" as of yet meaning that he's not exactly the one to come home and head straight for the drums...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVmJt72R60I

But as with anything, there's those who have a natural lead on it, and there's those who work their asses off to "get it". I believe there's a balance there. But like I told him as he was struggling through Owen Liversidge's "Drum Twisters" book last night..."Once you 'get it', then no one can take it from you."
 

BillBachman

Gold Member
Speaking for myself, I have some natural talent, but it's mainly that I've worked my butt off for years. As for students, I'll take a worker over a natural talent anytime. Of course, a naturally talented worker is the best of both worlds!
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
'Talent' is a real thing - it might be a combination of factors. Better hearing than others, better co-ordination, etc. It means nothing without work, though.

Case in point, Robert Fripp has said on interview that he has no musical aptitude whatsoever. He worked for forty years, practicing eight hours most days and is regarded as one of the most startlingly technical and musical guitarists in existence.

It might give you a headstart and it might make certain things easier but talent means nothing without application.
 

JimFiore

Silver Member
There is a saying among distance runners: Pick your parents wisely.

We inherit our mitochondria from our mothers (the cellular "powerhouse" so to speak). Other elements of performance are also heritable. But that's just the background.

I could have great genetics but if I don't do the workouts I'm not going to win any races. In fact, I'm going to be roundly beaten by people with less favorable genetics but who have done the requisite workouts. The genetics give you an idea of your potential ceiling, not a measure of where you are. And the more skill-based the endeavor (versus conditioning-based), I believe the less the genetics define that ceiling.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
What people call talent is really just favorable brain wiring relating to certain tasks. People come in all different types of wiring configurations. I have the mechanical ability and I can play drums, but don't ask me to do your financial planning, I'm just not wired for it. Not saying I couldn't learn it, but I'm not factory programmed for it.
 

GeoB

Gold Member
My 2nd wife....

Was a pianist who was an absolute wonder at what I called a theoretical approach to the instrument. Moving, ethereal chords, extensions, deep moving passages that were probably in the vein of new age or world... but it was deep.

Couldn't play a rock tune to save her life... really didn't have a groove, couldn't groove... but... her music existed on a whole different level... her music moved something like big puffy white clouds drifting on the wind.
 

Lennytoons

Senior Member
I believe it's a bit of both. If someone doesn't have natural rhythm they can never be a decent drummer. I've never had a lesson but I can play just about anything by ear. Discipline is learned and the result of hours of practice.
 

Grolubao

Senior Member
I had a student that didn't had any sort of rythm. It was very challenging to teach him anything if he struggled so hard to clap at time. Anyway I manage to teach him some things, bu he'll never become a good drummer, it's a fact.

Same specially applies for singers. No way you can practice that or you have ir or not, and only then you can improve it but it comes as a gift
 

sketchtrack

Junior Member
It's much more complicated.

Of course there is natural talent, and yes it can be a huge factor.

But there is much more than that going on.

There is hard work, and that can be a huge factor.

But what really sets drummers apart is the energy/emotion/feeling they convey. Each person has their own personality, and this comes through in drums like any other form of personal expression.

Many people practice, practice, practice by the books, and try to emulate other players. Some people get really technically proficient this way, but for many, their playing still lacks personality, or lively energetic dynamics, etc.

And just like in life, some people just have a lot more personality than others, and some people just have a lot more drumming or musical personality, or at least let out their personality without really trying. Some people are shy, or reserved ...

On top of that there is attitude, influence, and passion.

Personally, I have a lot of chops, have been playing for years, have my own style, and consider myself a really good drummer. But, sometimes I hear people with far less skill and experience than me play and find myself envying the energy and personality that comes out.

A drummer once told me that he compares drumming to talking. You can talk in a monotone, emotionless voice and you'll sound pretty boring. Or you can talk enthusiastically and with character, and it makes a big difference.

So what it comes down to that is most important, in my opinion, is loosening up, play as a way to express yourself, and play drums as a good story teller would tell a story. Don't worry about being "technically" better than other drummers, just try to be you. Learn and use your chops as a way to enhance your expressiveness, not as a way to show off.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
It's much more complicated.

Of course there is natural talent, and yes it can be a huge factor.

But there is much more than that going on.

There is hard work, and that can be a huge factor.

But what really sets drummers apart is the energy/emotion/feeling they convey. Each person has their own personality, and this comes through in drums like any other form of personal expression.

Many people practice, practice, practice by the books, and try to emulate other players. Some people get really technically proficient this way, but for many, their playing still lacks personality, or lively energetic dynamics, etc.

And just like in life, some people just have a lot more personality than others, and some people just have a lot more drumming or musical personality, or at least let out their personality without really trying. Some people are shy, or reserved ...

On top of that there is attitude, influence, and passion.

Personally, I have a lot of chops, have been playing for years, have my own style, and consider myself a really good drummer. But, sometimes I hear people with far less skill and experience than me play and find myself envying the energy and personality that comes out.

A drummer once told me that he compares drumming to talking. You can talk in a monotone, emotionless voice and you'll sound pretty boring. Or you can talk enthusiastically and with character, and it makes a big difference.

So what it comes down to that is most important, in my opinion, is loosening up, play as a way to express yourself, and play drums as a good story teller would tell a story. Don't worry about being "technically" better than other drummers, just try to be you. Learn and use your chops as a way to enhance your expressiveness, not as a way to show off.
You know, this whole paragraph makes a lot of sense to me, especially the part about the drummer who compares drumming to talking.

I think natural talent plays a huge part in that. I had enough natural talent to teach myself to play drums, but I can only get so far and I've reached a point where the only way to get better is to study drumming on the pad doing exercises. The way to express myself has been established, but I want to have craftier hand work as tools for my mind to use in my drumming, if that makes any sense.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Sorry, folks: Study says musical talent mostly comes from your genes



We like to imagine that musical talent is just a matter of putting in enough hours. The Beatles became superstars because they spent years honing their craft in Hamburg, right? Well, maybe not. A recently published study from the Karolinska Institute's Miriam Mosing suggests that you need the right genes to become a true maestro. The research compared thousands of identical and fraternal twins to see whether lots of practice improves a person's ability to detect changes in melody, pitch and rhythm. Unfortunately, it didn't make a lick of difference for the identical twins; they had the same level of appreciation, regardless of how much time a given twin spent performing.
 

JimFiore

Silver Member
Careful with those conclusions. First, the researcher came up with a score based on how much time one twin practiced. Apparently, there was no adjustment for what level was reached or how long ago it was done. Then there were three proxies for ability, not ability itself:
The first measured a person’s ability to detect differences in pitch. Each participant heard two notes. Sometimes the second was different from the first. Sometimes it was not. Participants had to say whether the second was higher or lower than the first, or the same.

The next test, of appreciation of melody, asked people to distinguish between two sequences of four to nine notes, in which one sequence would sometimes differ from the other in the pitch of a single note. The final test, of sensitivity to rhythm, required volunteers to decide whether two sequences of five to seven notes with the same pitch, but possibly different time intervals, were indeed the same or different.
So this says nothing about about the musical twin's abilities to, in fact, play a musical instrument. To conclude from this study that the skill level attained by a musician is strictly a matter of genetics is simply wrong.

I will agree that to become a master of a particular instrument likely requires a genetic component, but to deny the role of practice is lunacy. As I said earlier with my comparison to athletics, the person with the superior genetics who doesn't train will be beaten 99 times out of 100 by the average person who does train.
 
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