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Re: Prodigies????? [Re: phantomFive] #2275504 05/13/14 01:07 PM
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Francisco Scalco Offline
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Originally Posted by phantomFive
Originally Posted by Old Man
Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by Fiona0424
....Does this then mean that if you're not a prodigy, the chances of you "making it" are lower than if you are just an extremely talented and musical person?

If you mean making it as a star solo performer, the answer is, not just "lower" but almost nil.

'It's a sad tale,' perhaps. smile
But yeah -- virtually every star solo performer started out as a prodigy, not just nowadays but always.

It doesn't mean that otherwise we can't be quite accomplished and even be performers 'of some note' -- provided that we define "of some note" extremely broadly. grin
(It would have to include not particularly making money from it.)

+1.

I think all world-renowned pianists are, and always have been prodigies by definition. One can't reach the pinnacle by simply "working really, really hard." It's in the genes. Their brains are wired to play music.

People who are of the opinion that skill is in the genes or 'natural talent' are never able define what talent the person actually possesses. Because if they could define what set of skills comprise 'natural talent', then we could build a system to teach that.

Even the ability to learn quickly is a skill that can be learned.


I agree. To my knowledge, no scientific study has proved the link between genes and musicianship. What does help, in my opinion, is a musical environment. And large, flexible hands ( Maria João agrees with me on this one lol).

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Re: Prodigies????? [Re: boo1234] #2275522 05/13/14 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by boo1234
Part of the deal with prodigies is that they can garner a lot of media attention for being such high level performers at a young age so their careers have a jump start right from the beginning


Exactly! It's about career, fame. That's not making it - although the two are not mutually exclusive. Leopold Mozart is a famous example, as well as Johann Beethoven, who altered his son's age by two years to make him seem more impressive.

It's a dirty system; and it works, because people are fooled by what they see.

May I suggest that there is an internal 'making it'? Being a musician offers a highly rich life.


Michael

"Genius is nothing more than an extraordinary capacity for patience."
Leonardo da Vinci
Re: Prodigies????? [Re: Francisco Scalco] #2275567 05/13/14 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by phantomFive
People who are of the opinion that skill is in the genes or 'natural talent' are never able define what talent the person actually possesses. Because if they could define what set of skills comprise 'natural talent', then we could build a system to teach that.

Even the ability to learn quickly is a skill that can be learned.

Originally Posted by Francisco Scalco

I agree. To my knowledge, no scientific study has proved the link between genes and musicianship. What does help, in my opinion, is a musical environment. And large, flexible hands ( Maria João agrees with me on this one lol).

You're right. I have no evidence. But some things are self-evident. smile And I've never heard of a famous pianist who was not a prodigy - i.e. one whose capacity to learn and rate of learning didn't far exceed that of his peers of average talent.

Let's say a 5-6 year-old boy begins taking piano lessons. Let's say that he comes from a highly educated family, maybe even a musical family. He goes to the best schools, has the best piano teachers, practices like a dog, loves music, wants to become a concert pianist more than anything else in the world, and is nurtured every step of the way. One would think that by his mid-to-late 20s, he'd be playing at an extremely high level. But I'd be willing to bet that there have been millions of situations similar to this, where the end result was not a concert career, but something less. What was the missing ingredient? Are there any examples of famous pianists with only average or above average talent, who took the "20 years of practicing your heart out" route to fame and glory? I'd love to know who they are.

Now look at Georges Cziffra. His family lives in abject poverty. His dad plays cimbalom in cabarets, and his parents like to sing tunes around the house. His sister wants to take piano, but first needs to get a job to afford lessons. The closest little Georges gets to a "musical education" is listening to his sister practice. So, as a toddler, he mimics her playing, and learns to improvise - without sheet music. In fact, he becomes so good at it that he's recruited to be the headliner for a traveling circus, where he takes audience requests and improvises. Oh yeah, forgot to mention: This was at age 5. After his circus travels, at the ripe old age of 9, he enters Franz Liszt Academy as the youngest student to ever be admitted. He goes on to be one of the most gifted and famous pianists of the 20th century.

Does anyone really believe that Cziffra was not a prodigy? That he succeeded simply because of a "musical environment", or "large, flexible hands"? And more important, does anyone believe that someone of more modest talents could have achieved the same success, given the same background? If so, then we need to market the formula:

1. Grow up dirt poor.
2. Learn piano by mimicking one of your siblings.
3. Join the circus at age 5.
4. Return home and apply to Juilliard at age 9.
5. Go to war at 21.
6. Get sent to a labor camp that nearly destroys your hands.
7. After 3 years of no playing, simply pick up where you left off, and become a concert pianist.

Scientific evidence? No. But sometimes simple history will suffice. smile

Re: Prodigies????? [Re: phantomFive] #2275576 05/13/14 03:54 PM
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eh, nothing to see here.


Last edited by TwoSnowflakes; 05/13/14 07:03 PM.
Re: Prodigies????? [Re: Old Man] #2275577 05/13/14 03:56 PM
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Good evening.

Originally Posted by Old Man

Does anyone really believe that Cziffra was not a prodigy?


As I read it, everyting you write in the preceding paragraph shows an environement suspiciously propicious to nurturing musicians great and small:

Originally Posted by Old Man
His dad plays cimbalom in cabarets, and his parents like to sing tunes around the house.


Take any great musician and you find similar stories. One's father wrote the first textbook on violin; another had 200-some musicians in his family. Theme and variations.

Re: Prodigies????? [Re: landorrano] #2275583 05/13/14 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by landorrano

Take any great musician and you find similar stories. One's father wrote the first textbook on violin; another had 200-some musicians in his family. Theme and variations.

What that shows is that 'musicianship' and the capacity for assimilating music (including playing musical instruments) run in families - i.e. there is a strong genetic component. Or to put it another way, great musicians are born, not made.

There are also many famous musicians and composers who, despite active discouragement by their very musical (or musician) parents, still would not be dissuaded from their ultimate destiny.......


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Prodigies????? [Re: Old Man] #2275585 05/13/14 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Old Man

Originally Posted by phantomFive
People who are of the opinion that skill is in the genes or 'natural talent' are never able define what talent the person actually possesses. Because if they could define what set of skills comprise 'natural talent', then we could build a system to teach that.

You're right. I have no evidence....What was the missing ingredient?

That's the question, right? What was the missing ingredient? Answer that and there will be nothing left to discuss because we'll know the answer.

Often the answer is not even related to pianistic ability, showmanship is an important part of performing. Liszt was not the best pianist when he arrived in Paris, but he was the best showman. I know you can think of other examples.

How did Cziffra do it? You have taken his story and said, "I don't know how he did it, so it must be genetics." Another approach is to say, "I don't know how he did it, let's figure out." The second approach leads to greater knowledge.


Poetry is rhythm
Re: Prodigies????? [Re: phantomFive] #2275595 05/13/14 04:22 PM
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I think that most people have no difficulty with the statement "Great sportsmen/women are born, not made." VO2max (a huge factor in 'aerobic fitness' ) is largely genetically pre-determined, as is the relative proportion of slow-twitch to fast-twitch muscle fibers.

Why is there so much opposition to "Great musicians are born, not made"?

You only have to look at the example of monozygotic twins separated at birth and having completely different upbringings and lifestyles, to realize how much genetics play a part in how people end up - in occupations, personalities, characters, even choice of partners......


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Prodigies????? [Re: landorrano] #2275600 05/13/14 04:30 PM
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I agree that a musical environment definitely helps, but it doesn't ensure success as a pianist. Even the most nurturing environment cannot produce a great pianist through sheer determination and hard work, but only modest talent. Likewise, as in Cziffra's case, if a true prodigy "finds" music, nothing will keep him down, including poverty, lack of education, or physical torture.

If we were to graph the progress of a moderately talented individual, with level of playing (y-axis) vs. time (x-axis), the line would probably head "northeast", but in a strictly linear fashion, and probably heading more east than north. And that's good news, because it means we can all have hope of improving.

But if you graph the progress of a prodigy, the line would head northeast for a short period, and then proceed more "northward" very rapidly. It is this capacity to learn, and the rapidity of skills acquisition that distinguishes a prodigy from everyone else. (IMHO, of course. smile )

Re: Prodigies????? [Re: Fiona0424] #2275601 05/13/14 04:31 PM
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Here we go again.

Re: Prodigies????? [Re: JoelW] #2275606 05/13/14 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by JoelW
Here we go again.

Fine, I won't bother. I am traveling in the 'olde country' and would rather get back to fb.


Jason
Re: Prodigies????? [Re: Fiona0424] #2275614 05/13/14 04:56 PM
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By the way, Kissin in not a great performer. He is an absolutely fantastic recording artist. On stage, live, he is dull, emotionally blocked.

Re OP: There is a lot of variety of skill in performers. They are two different things. Would you like to 'make it' as a performer?


Michael

"Genius is nothing more than an extraordinary capacity for patience."
Leonardo da Vinci
Re: Prodigies????? [Re: Old Man] #2275615 05/13/14 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Old Man
....I've never heard of a famous pianist who was not a prodigy - i.e. one whose capacity to learn and rate of learning didn't far exceed that of his peers of average talent.


Maksim Mrvica

Re: Prodigies????? [Re: JoelW] #2275618 05/13/14 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by JoelW
Here we go again.

Again? Seems pretty civil so far. Don't upset the apple cart. grin

Re: Prodigies????? [Re: Damon] #2275626 05/13/14 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Damon
Originally Posted by Old Man
....I've never heard of a famous pianist who was not a prodigy - i.e. one whose capacity to learn and rate of learning didn't far exceed that of his peers of average talent.

Maksim Mrvica

Never heard of this guy, so I had to do some reading.

Wikipedia says he started lessons at 9, and gave his first public performance the same year. It also says he gave a public performance of the Haydn C Major Concerto 3 years later. Another article says that neither of his parents knew anything of classical music, and they still prefer listening to pop, even to this day.

By any definition, he certainly sounds like a prodigy to me! smile But then I doubt he'd be classified among the world's greatest pianists either. The OP seemed to be asking if you could "make it" without being a prodigy, and used Gould, Argerich, and Kissin as examples. So I assumed that her standard for "making it" was pretty darn high.

Re: Prodigies????? [Re: Old Man] #2275651 05/13/14 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Old Man
Originally Posted by JoelW
Here we go again.

Again? Seems pretty civil so far. Don't upset the apple cart. grin

I simple mean the nature/nurture debate. I can feel it coming.

Re: Prodigies????? [Re: bennevis] #2275653 05/13/14 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
I think that most people have no difficulty with the statement "Great sportsmen/women are born, not made." VO2max (a huge factor in 'aerobic fitness' ) is largely genetically pre-determined, as is the relative proportion of slow-twitch to fast-twitch muscle fibers.

Why is there so much opposition to "Great musicians are born, not made"?

You only have to look at the example of monozygotic twins separated at birth and having completely different upbringings and lifestyles, to realize how much genetics play a part in how people end up - in occupations, personalities, characters, even choice of partners......

I'm sorry, you seem to have completely ignored my comment.


Poetry is rhythm
Re: Prodigies????? [Re: Fiona0424] #2275656 05/13/14 06:40 PM
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In my opinion Lang Lang is not a genius, He doesn't compose music.

Re: Prodigies????? [Re: hreichgott] #2275665 05/13/14 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by hreichgott
Originally Posted by Parks
I went to a music conservatory, and most of the musicians there did not like performing - hated it. What were they expecting? To have performance careers?

That made me laugh Michael smile

Fiona, don't worry. You have already been accepted to a good school of music. Children who played advanced music at an early age (whether prodigies or not) are impressive as children, but now you're all in the same boat, and you'll all be struggling with the same things. Maybe some have had exposure to advanced music for longer. It isn't that big an advantage.

Also, concert performance is not the only form of musical work. Compared to other ways of working as a pianist, concert performance is the most competitive, the most difficult, and the most poorly paid, except for the very few at the very top. "Making it" doesn't only mean becoming a full time concert performer.


Oh, I'm not worried. (Actually I might be just a little bit...) I mean, I started piano when I was five, so I have a good musical foundation. I am simply wondering if there are many pianists who make a living from concert performing (and other musical work) without having "out-of-this-world" hearing abilities and technique. (Like Agerich, let's say.) But I'm glad to hear that it isn't...THAT great of an advantage. Even though it still is an advantage. smile


*Fiona*

"If music be food of love, play on!"
P.S. I am in love with Beethoven, infatuated with Liszt, and crazy about Chopin!
And when he behaves, Rachmaninoff is my darling! ;p
Re: Prodigies????? [Re: jdw] #2275666 05/13/14 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by jdw
Originally Posted by TwoSnowflakes
The internet has changed things quite a lot.

Sometimes I wonder if can gauge how well I'm learning a piece sometimes simply by the average age of the children on youtube who play it better than I do.

wink


This is an average I definitely don't want to know!


Yeah... That could be depressing when you begin a piece you're really excited about and you see this little ten-year-old playing it flawlessly!


*Fiona*

"If music be food of love, play on!"
P.S. I am in love with Beethoven, infatuated with Liszt, and crazy about Chopin!
And when he behaves, Rachmaninoff is my darling! ;p
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