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Are professional pianists highly intelligent?
#1460897 06/22/10 11:15 AM
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Do you think professional pianists are in general highly intelligent or even super intelligent?

Of course, one would need a definition of "intelligence" to answer. I know there are generally considered to be different kinds of intelligence. I'm not talking about musical intelligence because the answer would obviously be yes in that case. I'm talking about something more like analytical intelligence, verbal skills, IQ, or general smarts. Someone who would be thought of as very smart in school(but didn't necessarily have to receive good grades).

I don't know many professional pianists personally, but many of the ones I know seem super intelligent. (It's possible that it's hard for me to separate their very high musical intelligence from the rest of their intellectual ability.)

Are some famous pianists known to be super intelligent or polymaths? Are some known to be only smart only when it comes to music?

Based on their writings/interviews Hamelin, Chiu and Hough seem extremely intelligent to me(these are not the pianists I mentioned above as knowing personally!).

Last edited by pianoloverus; 06/22/10 12:47 PM.
Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent?
pianoloverus #1460903 06/22/10 11:34 AM
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"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent?
pianoloverus #1460906 06/22/10 11:37 AM
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No. I heard some years ago traditionally parents would put their 'duffer' kids into music cause they weren't too good at much else. In fact I know someone who told me he was a poor student. So his dad said 'All those music lessons you've had...why not go for that?"

Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent?
keyboardklutz #1460913 06/22/10 11:46 AM
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Kbk so I guess we're all stupid?



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Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent?
Pogorelich. #1460917 06/22/10 11:55 AM
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Test it. IQ tests are often used for this kind of thing. My guess, is musicians have something called 'aural/spacial' skills. Although I don't even know what that means. smile

Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent?
Pogorelich. #1460924 06/22/10 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by AngelinaPogorelich
Kbk so I guess we're all stupid?
A lot of the ones I know are! Still, maybe I don't get out enough?

Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent?
keyboardklutz #1460930 06/22/10 12:18 PM
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People who play piano well are usually smart (way above average). Or I can say, a smart people can be taught to play piano easily (may not play beautifully, but they can get the mechanic of playing piano easily).

You also can tell kids who cannot sight read are usually not smart kids. Those who are smart always understand what is going on with the music in front of them. Below average kids are usually not able to associate between what on the book and what needs to be done.

Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent?
keyboardklutz #1460932 06/22/10 12:20 PM
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I remember reviewing a study that attempted to determine whether musicians with absolute pitch had higher IQs than those without it. (They didn't.) What struck me about the study was its finding that the average IQ was around 115 -- a full standard deviation above the population mean. Based on this study, I would say that most musicians are of above average intelligence.

Among famous pianists, there are many who strike me as geniuses. Camille Saint-Saens is probably the most salient example: he could read and write when he was three and had an eidetic memory. Among living pianists, Evgeny Kissin strikes me as exceptionally intelligent. His facility in English -- a second language for him -- rivals that of any native speaker I've encountered.

Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent?
RonaldSteinway #1460933 06/22/10 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by RonaldSteinway
People who play piano well are usually smart (way above average). Or I can say, a smart people can be taught to play piano easily (may not play beautifully, but they can get the mechanic of playing piano easily).
[...]


I fail to see the relationship between a physical skill (since you're not talking about interpretive talents) and intelligence.

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Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent?
RonaldSteinway #1460935 06/22/10 12:27 PM
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Just think, with all the hours of private mentoring music students get, if an averagely intelligent student (remember the OP is about whether or not they're highly intelligent) had 1-to-1 in maths from age 8, plus all the daily extra homework, how advanced they'd be.

I don't think 'Among famous pianists' counts as in general.

Originally Posted by cast12
What struck me about the study was its finding that the average IQ was around 115 -- a full standard deviation above the population mean.

Interesting nugget on IQ 's from 1994: 'When Britain still had the 11-plus examination, children of professional and managerial parents recorded average IQ scores of 113, compared with an average of around 96 for the children of unskilled manual workers. Similar differences have been recorded in the US and elsewhere.'

Now what would be interesting is a study on the demographics of professional pianists in their youth. Actually... it wouldn't.

Last edited by keyboardklutz; 06/22/10 12:59 PM.
Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent?
RonaldSteinway #1460975 06/22/10 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by RonaldSteinway


You also can tell kids who cannot sight read are usually not smart kids. Those who are smart always understand what is going on with the music in front of them. Below average kids are usually not able to associate between what on the book and what needs to be done.


Ok I tried not to take the bait but I can't help it. I am simultaneously working towards a BM in piano perfomance and a BS in microbiology. I am not a good sight reader, I've always been more of an ear player. I certainly don't consider myself "below average" and I don't consider sight reading to be any sort of indicator of general intelligence. I appreciate the "usually" you stuck in there as a preemptive strike against anyone taking offense, but my ego was bruised anyway. smile

Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent?
bachchica #1461009 06/22/10 02:24 PM
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I have heard that a surprisingly large number of pro pianists and conservatory whiz kids are not especially good sightreaders. It would seem to be a skill unto itself.

I've only known a couple of pro pianists personally over the years, but they gave me the impression that they do have a few brain cells firing. Besides that, they had great motivation and an outstanding work ethic. Lazy whores need not apply.

Just being able to pound a keyboard, of course, isn't an indication of anything. I have known a number of very dim bulbs who could do that. Why, I've even seen trained chickens who could peck out a tune.


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Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent?
Jeff Clef #1461017 06/22/10 02:44 PM
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Maybe not in terms of IQ, but certainly in terms of educational attainment - for a variety of reasons. It's a self-selecting kind of vocation, not the sort of thing that you can "fall into."

Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent?
bachchica #1461028 06/22/10 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by bachchica
Originally Posted by RonaldSteinway


You also can tell kids who cannot sight read are usually not smart kids. Those who are smart always understand what is going on with the music in front of them. Below average kids are usually not able to associate between what on the book and what needs to be done.


Ok I tried not to take the bait but I can't help it. I am simultaneously working towards a BM in piano perfomance and a BS in microbiology. I am not a good sight reader, I've always been more of an ear player. I certainly don't consider myself "below average" and I don't consider sight reading to be any sort of indicator of general intelligence. I appreciate the "usually" you stuck in there as a preemptive strike against anyone taking offense, but my ego was bruised anyway. smile


Microbiology is a memorization subject, not like Math, Physics, or Engineering. So, I am sorry, you do not fall in the category that I intended.

Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent?
Jeff Clef #1461031 06/22/10 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Jeff Clef
I have heard that a surprisingly large number of pro pianists and conservatory whiz kids are not especially good sightreaders. It would seem to be a skill unto itself.



Where did you hear this? If it is true, it will take forever for them to just read and count difficult pieces that they must learn in a short time. Even non artist pianists such as people with master piano performance degree, sight read very well. It is hard to keep up with the requirement without excellent sight read ability.

Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent?
RonaldSteinway #1461043 06/22/10 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by RonaldSteinway
People who play piano well are usually smart (way above average). Or I can say, a smart people can be taught to play piano easily (may not play beautifully, but they can get the mechanic of playing piano easily).

You also can tell kids who cannot sight read are usually not smart kids. Those who are smart always understand what is going on with the music in front of them. Below average kids are usually not able to associate between what on the book and what needs to be done.

First, when you wrote 'a smart people,' are you indicating an entire race? If not, not very smart. Second, where's your evidence to support your claim about sight reading? Because if you don't have any evidence, that's a pretty ludicrous statment.

Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent?
eweiss #1461045 06/22/10 03:32 PM
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Regardless of the race.

I used to teach for 13 years. This is my personal observation. I dealt with hundreds of children and adults. Smart kids can relate what they play and what is on the book. The notes mean something to them. The not smart kids (below average)do not understand what they see infront of them.

Last edited by RonaldSteinway; 06/22/10 03:41 PM.
Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent?
RonaldSteinway #1461052 06/22/10 03:44 PM
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'The not smart kids (below average)do not understand what they see in front of them.' Agreed but we're supposed to be OT as highly gifted. Just normal kids can become proficient enough - no need to be high flyers.

Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent?
keyboardklutz #1461147 06/22/10 05:54 PM
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Well i find that most pianists not all's lives revolve around music constantly. If its not bout music then they lose interest. I also find a positive correlation between wits and level of carrer, but not always true.

Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent?
GeorgeB #1461153 06/22/10 05:58 PM
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BUT OFCOURSE THEY ARE !!!:):):)


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