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Do you think becoming proficient at the piano is more of an innate talent (a gift reserved for a minority) or more like an ordinary skill like typing or driving which sees you improve linearly with practice? Or is maybe the ability to play Chopsticks accessible to almost everyone regardless of age but mastering something like a Transcendental Etude hopelessly beyond reach regardless of how many hours of study and practice you put in unless you have some unknown genetic predisposition?

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Playing the piano is a skill. How fast and well you master it may depend on talent.

Using the search function in a forum is a skill as well.

Last edited by patH; 09/07/21 08:21 AM.

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In my case, definitely a skill. I’ve been playing for many years and I have yet to reach a point where I decide ‘I can’t get better’. I thought I might have hit it several times, but I just kept moving and saw improvement.

And BTW: I’m an old curmudgeon, and still see improvement. You need to believe ‘Yes, I can’ or you will create a brick wall that doesn’t need to be there.

It takes training and patience.


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The question proposes a false dichotomy. The OP's last sentence correctly describes things IMO. Playing the piano is a skill but how far one can get and how fast one reaches a certain point is limited by talent. The hardest pieces are probably beyond the ability of most pianists no matter how much they practice and how good their teachers are. The same situation as for sports or almost anything.

I do feel like I am still improving, significantly in certain areas, even after almost 65 years of playing.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 09/07/21 08:47 AM.
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Lots of people get to 60 wpm in touch typing, but few will get into 120+ territory.

I think the similarity ends there, though, because making music is an art as well as a skill.

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Originally Posted by ikkiyikki
is maybe the ability to play Chopsticks accessible to almost everyone regardless of age but mastering something like a Transcendental Etude hopelessly beyond reach regardless of how many hours of study and practice you put in unless you have some unknown genetic predisposition?

Yes. Well, genetic predisposition plus starting at a young age. Also, the genetic predisposition might not be so very unknown.


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If you want to become a concert pianist, choose your parents wisely.

If you want to play Für Elise, even Rondo alla turca well, well, get a good teacher and practice, practice, practice, practice, practice (for years and years and years)...........


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Originally Posted by patH
Playing the piano is a skill. How fast and well you master it may depend on talent.

Perhaps it's not so much "talent" as "aptitude" which is defined as:

“A condition or set of characteristics regarded as symptomatic of an individual’s ability to acquire with training some (usually specified) knowledge, skill or set of responses, such as ability to speak a language, to produce music …”


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Originally Posted by bennevis
If you want to become a concert pianist, choose your parents wisely.

If you want to play Für Elise, even Rondo alla turca well, well, get a good teacher and practice, practice, practice, practice, practice (for years and years and years)...........
Of course practicing Fur Elise or Rondo alla turca for "years and years and years" is guaranteed to drive one to insanity.


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Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by bennevis
If you want to become a concert pianist, choose your parents wisely.

If you want to play Für Elise, even Rondo alla turca well, well, get a good teacher and practice, practice, practice, practice, practice (for years and years and years)...........
Of course practicing Fur Elise or Rondo alla turca for "years and years and years" is guaranteed to drive one to insanity.

thumb ha ha


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In my view proficiency at the piano is a complicated concept. It requires on the one hand fine motor control, and a "good ear", but on the other hand it requires the motivation to stay on target for a lot of time, i.e. a lot of will power.

Obviously, from simply observing people around you, many seem to have little will power, whereas somewhat fewer seem to have a lot of it. Is this talent, or skill? The question is confounded if you think of the effects of chemistry: give a person cocaine, and their motivation shoots up. Give them constipation, and it dwindles.

My answer would be that proficiency is talent with skill, but it's not talent for playing the piano, instead it is talent for learning how to master piano playing, or in other words: talent for acquiring skill. I also think we all have this talent from birth, but some cultivate it to a high art, and others don't give a damn about it.


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Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by bennevis
If you want to become a concert pianist, choose your parents wisely.

If you want to play Für Elise, even Rondo alla turca well, well, get a good teacher and practice, practice, practice, practice, practice (for years and years and years)...........
Of course practicing Fur Elise or Rondo alla turca for "years and years and years" is guaranteed to drive one to insanity.
That is why my personal recommendation is that one should learn and master Islamey as a preliminary to those masterpieces. A stepping stone, if you like (or don't like wink ).

Scarbo is a viable alternative.


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Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by patH
Playing the piano is a skill. How fast and well you master it may depend on talent.
Perhaps it's not so much "talent" as "aptitude" which is defined as:
“A condition or set of characteristics regarded as symptomatic of an individual’s ability to acquire with training some (usually specified) knowledge, skill or set of responses, such as ability to speak a language, to produce music …”
What do you see as the difference between talent and aptitude?

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A skill - it's almost all learned.

But your parents play a big role in giving you the starting point

* Learning already starts at age 0 in the womb. What music do they listen? How do they talk?

* good brain and physical fitness (as in fitted for playing) are important Which is also determined by your parents

* Your learning behaviour might also be inherited (dna, early learning)

If you would call all these inherited traits "talent" or "aptitude" or whatever, then maybe you could argue that it's all about talent.


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Originally Posted by patH
Using the search function in a forum is a skill as well.

No, that's a habit (or a choice). Using it well is a skill.

Last edited by Jun-Dai; 09/07/21 11:37 AM.
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Originally Posted by wouter79
A skill - it's almost all learned.
It's the talent (for learning and playing piano) that allows one to learn much faster than most or reach a much higher level than most. Same thing for typing, driving, golf, tennis, cooking, math, etc.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 09/07/21 12:55 PM.
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Watch this and see if it changes your mind


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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by bennevis
If you want to become a concert pianist, choose your parents wisely.

If you want to play Für Elise, even Rondo alla turca well, well, get a good teacher and practice, practice, practice, practice, practice (for years and years and years)...........
Of course practicing Fur Elise or Rondo alla turca for "years and years and years" is guaranteed to drive one to insanity.
That is why my personal recommendation is that one should learn and master Islamey as a preliminary to those masterpieces. A stepping stone, if you like (or don't like wink ).

Scarbo is a viable alternative.

Boo - Hiss ha


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Carey
Perhaps it's not so much "talent" as "aptitude" which is defined as: “A condition or set of characteristics regarded as symptomatic of an individual’s ability to acquire with training some (usually specified) knowledge, skill or set of responses, such as ability to speak a language, to produce music …”
What do you see as the difference between talent and aptitude?
Upon further reflection, probably not much. grin


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Originally Posted by cygnusdei
Watch this and see if it changes your mind
Reincarnation?


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