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Re: Genes may be key to great musicians [Re: phantomFive] #2312242
08/07/14 04:04 AM
08/07/14 04:04 AM
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Originally Posted by phantomFive
Originally Posted by outo
Originally Posted by phantomFive


When it comes to piano, there are many traits where 99% of people have good enough genes to achieve the top level.



Of course (having two hands is a good example), but don't you agree that there are also many traits where this is not the case?

Quite a large proportion of people have trouble learning much easier skills than playing advanced piano music beautifully (reading, writing, calculating, moving gracefully for example) and even after receiving much special education and support are not able to compete with an average person who learned such things almost with no effort. And research clearly suggests that many of such issues have genetic background as well.

I see top level pianism not as an ability to hit notes fast. Even that can be limited by one's physique, since not all hands "fit" our present piano keyboard as well and people have differences in their reflex speed and muscle tissue. Top level pianism is a mix of countless of extraordinary skills and not least musical understanding. To excel in all those skills requires a lot of work, but also a favorable genetic make up.

But I must point out that the same favourable genetic traits that help you become a great pianist, might as well help you develope into greatness in something else. It's not about having "pianist" genes, it's about having a suitable mix of genes that one can base all the work on.

The fascinating thing about genetics is that a very small difference in the actual genes may cause a very big difference between individuals. That's because the genes do not only affect specific traits, they do interact with each other in many ways. We are all full on tiny mutations that make us different. Some differences are clear from the birth, but some only become evident after more interaction with the environment. And since no two environments are completely the same either, even a very small difference in genes can have a large effect. All this is not under control of the individual and when they reach a point where they are able to start making their own decisions about how to work on something, much will already be set. One can still develope and change in many ways, but no-one is a blank canvas when it comes to learning.

Sure, things like reflexes might be a limiting factor that some people can't overcome (I don't think so, because I can't see how reflexes are very useful for piano playing unless it's to dodge the fallboard when the cat knocks it closed).

However, it's better to find the limit rather than just assume that it's there (which is what you are doing now), otherwise you are preventing yourself from reaching your potential, unnecessarily.


I thought this was a discussion on whether genes are important or not (and as such a theoretical discussion), not a discussion about any specific case. So I am not assuming anything about any individual here.

Last edited by outo; 08/07/14 04:05 AM.
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Re: Genes may be key to great musicians [Re: trigalg693] #2312392
08/07/14 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by trigalg693
Originally Posted by phantomFive

However, it's better to find the limit rather than just assume that it's there (which is what you are doing now), otherwise you are preventing yourself from reaching your potential, unnecessarily.


Exactly. This is why I hate when people say "you are so talented!"; it implies that there's something innate about a skill, when it is 99% learned. I spent thousands upon thousands of hours practicing, I would hope that my playing sounds at least somewhat good. If you can feel improvement, then your limit is a long ways off.


Related to that, apparently telling kids "you must be smart" actually can inhibit their progress. I read a study a few years back that showed when they told kids they were smart, they performed worse. It's better to say something like "good job! You must have worked hard."

And here I found a reference to the study. " Those who’d been told they were smart did worse than they had at the very beginning—by about 20 percent."


Poetry is rhythm
Re: Genes may be key to great musicians [Re: phantomFive] #2312444
08/07/14 12:31 PM
08/07/14 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by phantomFive

However, it's better to find the limit rather than just assume that it's there (which is what you are doing now), otherwise you are preventing yourself from reaching your potential, unnecessarily.

That's not true in the slightest. Genetic limits do exist and we can only benefit from accepting that they are there.


"A good intention but fixed and resolute - bent on high and holy ends, we shall find means to them on every side and at every moment; and even obstacles and opposition will but make us 'like the fabled specter-ships,' which sail the fastest in the very teeth of the wind."
R. W. Emerson
Re: Genes may be key to great musicians [Re: pianoloverus] #2312448
08/07/14 12:41 PM
08/07/14 12:41 PM
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Gosh, what ever happened to reach for the sky? Dream the impossible dream? Not for bots obviously! Perhaps something more prosaic like Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn't be done - Amelia Earhart

Re: Genes may be key to great musicians [Re: pianoloverus] #2312455
08/07/14 12:50 PM
08/07/14 12:50 PM
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What? Isn't finding your genetic limitation inspiring to you? laugh


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Re: Genes may be key to great musicians [Re: chopin_r_us] #2312459
08/07/14 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
Gosh, what ever happened to reach for the sky? Dream the impossible dream?

Perhaps something more prosaic like Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn't be done - Amelia Earhart

Yes, I've been reaching for the sky - literally - since I was a kid.

But my genes got in the way - I was (still am) too myopic to go for pilot training, which also meant I couldn't go for astronaut training; my limited VO2 max meant I was destined never to run the marathon in under 3 hours; my poor chess 'genes' meant I was never going to attain Grandmaster status; my poor pianistic 'genes' meant I was never going to be another Horowitz. Not even another Rubinstein....

Truly, I've been dealt a bad deal by my genes. I blame my parents cry.

But all is not lost - I've got four limbs, which means I can still run and climb (albeit at mediocre level), and play the piano (albeit not at virtuoso level). I can even type rubbish on internet forums thumb..........


"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: Genes may be key to great musicians [Re: Vid] #2312460
08/07/14 12:57 PM
08/07/14 12:57 PM
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Last edited by Kreisler; 08/07/14 01:34 PM. Reason: More insults...

"A good intention but fixed and resolute - bent on high and holy ends, we shall find means to them on every side and at every moment; and even obstacles and opposition will but make us 'like the fabled specter-ships,' which sail the fastest in the very teeth of the wind."
R. W. Emerson
Re: Genes may be key to great musicians [Re: pianoloverus] #2312466
08/07/14 01:12 PM
08/07/14 01:12 PM
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With pretty much anything we do there is a plethora of factors that will effect our performance. My piano performance is effected by my confidence, dedication to practicing, the quality of my music education, and genetic factors that effected things like my hand size (and I am sure there are other factors...I am not trying to make an exhaustive list). If I want to improve I need to find out what is the factor that is hindering me most and work on changing that; for me I need to work on my practicing as I don't get as much time on my piano as I would like. But not all these factors have an equal effect. A bad music teacher at the start of your musical journey will probably hinder you more than a slightly small hand, barely able to reach an octave. I think I will focus on identifying limits I can easily change.

Practice: hard...need to find more time, but doable.
Teacher: easy...but not needed, my teacher is great.
Confidence: really hard for me...gotta perform more, screw up and just try to relax.
Genetics: I can't easily alter my alleles...could be an issue.

Here's an interesting article.

Re: Genes may be key to great musicians [Re: pianoloverus] #2312470
08/07/14 01:29 PM
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I feel sorry for Jiminy Cricket. What a loser!

Re: Genes may be key to great musicians [Re: pianoloverus] #2312477
08/07/14 01:44 PM
08/07/14 01:44 PM
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I haven't been this disappointed since I found out 'the force' was just a parasite in your blood stream.


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Re: Genes may be key to great musicians [Re: pianoloverus] #2312484
08/07/14 02:01 PM
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An interesting paper by Coon and Carey (University of Colorado). They looked at genetic and environmental factors of musical abilities in twins, measuring interest in music, performance in school, performance outside of school and receiving honours in music. They set out to answer the question, "To what degree are various types of musical ability influenced by genetic and environmental variation?"

The the discussion of their results they found

Quote
The twin analysis suggests an important role for shared family environment in musical ability, probably a stronger role than many behaviour geneticists would hypothesize a priori. [...] While genes are not unimportant, they often play a role secondary to family environment. This was particularly true among twins who took private lessons. Indeed, is musical ability that elusive variable for behavior genetics--a domain of substantive, psychological interest where rearing environment is consistently more important than genetics?

[...]

On the other hand, when training is left up to a child, the influence of genotype becomes more important. Among pairs who did not take private lessons, individual differences might reflect sufficient interest and ability in music to elect to receive training in school or to become a self-taught musician.



While the correlations between twins were always high, Coon and Carey conclude:

Quote
[...] although there was evidence for heritable variation, the effects of common environment were almost always larger than the effects of heredity. Third, marital assortment was not of sufficient magnitude to account for these common environment effects. In the young adults in this sample, musical ability is influenced more by shared family environment than by shared genes.


An interesting study, albeit a tad on the old side (its from 1988). It is certainly not the first time a study has been carried out on this. Again it seems that both genes and environment are important factors.

An interesting tidbit I read in this paper was they found in Vocal Performance, gender was particularly important, they suspect it could have been from peer attitudes and the stereotypical view that voice lessons are "feminine". An interesting idea.

Reference:
Coon, H. & Carey, G. Genetic and Environmental Determinants of Musical Ability in Twins, Behaviour Genetics, 19, 1989, p 183.

Re: Genes may be key to great musicians [Re: pianoloverus] #2312485
08/07/14 02:03 PM
08/07/14 02:03 PM
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A scientific discussion in which specific results from a paper are actually cited and quoted. A rarity on PianoWorld!

-J


Beethoven op.110, Chopin op.27/2, Liszt Vallée d'Obermann
Re: Genes may be key to great musicians [Re: MALDI_ToF] #2312487
08/07/14 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by MALDI_ToF
love her Noah review: http://deevybee.blogspot.ca

Re: Genes may be key to great musicians [Re: pianoloverus] #2312490
08/07/14 02:11 PM
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I can corroborate the twin stuff. I teach a pair of identical twins - they're as different as any random two kids could be. Their achievement, which is excellent, is very much down to home influence.

Re: Genes may be key to great musicians [Re: pianoloverus] #2312510
08/07/14 02:50 PM
08/07/14 02:50 PM
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In the TV segment I mentioned in my OP one of the additional factors(the only one I can remember)for high level playing mentioned was how much the pianist loved playing piano. But no theories were given about why this increased pianistic skill.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 08/07/14 02:51 PM.
Re: Genes may be key to great musicians [Re: Atrys] #2312511
08/07/14 02:54 PM
08/07/14 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Atrys
Originally Posted by MALDI_ToF

I don't understand.

Do you believe that a person can achieve anything they wish if they just try hard enough?

It depends on what the person is trying to achieve.

For example, if an individual (regardless of genetic makeup) makes a sincere effort, I have no doubt that he/she could stop being rude to others. grin


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Re: Genes may be key to great musicians [Re: pianoloverus] #2312512
08/07/14 02:55 PM
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Motor planning, working memory function, hemisphere communication, proprioception, psychomotor function, motor substrate consolidation; the list goes on.

There is no debate here; the science has already shown us what traits are most influential in bounding piano skill.


"A good intention but fixed and resolute - bent on high and holy ends, we shall find means to them on every side and at every moment; and even obstacles and opposition will but make us 'like the fabled specter-ships,' which sail the fastest in the very teeth of the wind."
R. W. Emerson
Re: Genes may be key to great musicians [Re: chopin_r_us] #2312518
08/07/14 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
I can corroborate the twin stuff. I teach a pair of identical twins - they're as different as any random two kids could be. Their achievement, which is excellent, is very much down to home influence.

They are both excellent? Why do you conclude from that that it is 'very much down to home influence'?

What would put the reason down firmly in the 'home influence' factor is if a pair of identical twins were separated at birth and raised in totally different home circumstances, and they never met each other until much later, in adulthood. And they had different interests, due to home influence.

There is an annual reunion of twins from around the world - I watched one of them on TV. Some of them were separated at birth and raised in different countries. What is consistently striking is how they had the same interests, same level of academic achievement, same proficiency in the same activities. They even dressed very similarly - all that before they were brought together for the first time.

I know a family very well - their children and I grew up together. The parents are very musical. But there was something interesting - only two out of their four children are similarly musical. In fact, the other two dropped out of music lessons (piano and violin) completely within a few years, whereas the two musical ones went on to make their careers in music - one as an orchestral violinist, the other as a piano teacher who also performed as an accompanist.

When they were all grown up as young adults, they found out (or rather, their parents told them): the two who had no interest in music had been adopted as infants. They eventually found out who their real parents are, and they aren't musical.


"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: Genes may be key to great musicians [Re: pianoloverus] #2312527
08/07/14 03:20 PM
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These twins have no music in the family. I know them very well as I see them throughout the day two days a week. Their success can be put down to quite different criteria for each. One steady - just gets on with it, the other seems to require the approval rating both at home and school. They certainly bust any myth that it takes a certain personality type to succeed.

Re: Genes may be key to great musicians [Re: chopin_r_us] #2312528
08/07/14 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
They certainly bust any myth that it takes a certain personality type to succeed.

I don't know of any such myth.

Success can come from any number of personality traits - the obsessive, the studious, the 'always want to please' type, the driven, the 'fear of failure' type.....


"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."
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