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The most controversial issue in music. #568309 02/28/04 10:32 PM
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I am interested in getting everyone's opinion on what is probably the most controversial issue in music: Is musicianship a born quality, or can it be learned? Now, I want everyone to answer as honestly as possible, and without fear of being slammed by anyone else. This is a sort of poll, and should be treated accordingly. The question, again, is whether musicality is something you are born with, or something you can aquire. I will give my own opinion when everyone else seems to be finished. And I can assure you that I will not let my opinion be biased by anyone's post.

I would like all posts to be constructed in the following manner:

Answer: Yes/No

Reason: Why you said Yes/No

Please do not spam, and be sure to post as shown in the example.

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Re: The most controversial issue in music. #568310 02/28/04 10:50 PM
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zorro Offline
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Yes
Practice is indispensable,but after a while, most people reach a plateau. The ones with talent keep going.
zorro


"I love Beethoven, especially the poems."
Ringo Starr
Re: The most controversial issue in music. #568311 02/28/04 11:10 PM
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The answers you want are either:

"Yes, it is something that you are born with or can be learned."

or:

"No, no one is born with it nor learns it."?


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Re: The most controversial issue in music. #568312 02/28/04 11:11 PM
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Is musicianship a born quality, or can it be learned?
Answer: Yes...I mean NO.. oh, wait I mean yes...dangit, I mean no......What does YES mean (not the progressive rock band).

edit: I think it can be "either, or", as "level of "born quality" differs in each individual.

Re: The most controversial issue in music. #568313 02/28/04 11:19 PM
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No brainer:

Yes and yes.


"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: The most controversial issue in music. #568314 02/28/04 11:26 PM
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OOPS! I'm an idiot! Sorry, the question is: Can musicality be taught? Pardon my stupidity.

Re: The most controversial issue in music. #568315 02/29/04 12:01 AM
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Yes music can be learned. However, as a college music student and future professor, I must say that some people "have it" and others do not. The difference seems to be that there are a select few that are willing to make music their life's ambition. They give every bit of themselves to perfect their craft. Unfortunately, this leaves us with little time for anything else. You can usually spot these people by their constant presence in the practice rooms and by the circles under their eyes from lack of sleep! smile

Re: The most controversial issue in music. #568316 02/29/04 12:30 AM
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Yes.

Everyone is taught musicality, even those who we say are "born" with it. The simple fact is that one's perception of music is entirely shaped by the music he/she is exposed to growing up. This is why music is NOT a universal language, as some claim, but rather an element of culture, and very often what sounds nice to one society sounds like rubbish to another.

In short, everyone learns musicality, but some better and faster than others. These are the ones we say have an "innate" talent.


"My atheism, like that of Spinoza, is true piety towards the universe and denies only gods fashioned by men in their own image, to be servants of their human interests." - Santayana
Re: The most controversial issue in music. #568317 02/29/04 07:09 AM
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No one is born with some magical property that others don't have, we're all biologically very similar. In other words, we all have the potential to be musical.

Re: The most controversial issue in music. #568318 02/29/04 07:19 AM
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Shrek,
Do you mean overall musical talent - ear, technique, feel for music, rhythm, etc.? Or, do you mean musicianship and musicality. Many of the responses here seem to be about overall musical talent.

In terms of musiciality - yes, you are born with it, and yes, it can be learned.

Re: The most controversial issue in music. #568319 02/29/04 08:53 AM
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Anything can be taught and learnt (except Perfect Pitch, perhaps).

Talent is a multiplier and a clipping function to all that teaching and learning.

Think of it as an amplifier. Teaching/learning is the input to that amplifier. As with all real world amps, it tops out eventually regardless of your input. But I suspect most people don't input enough to reach their top-out points anyway. wink

Re: The most controversial issue in music. #568320 02/29/04 01:26 PM
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Question: What do you mean? African, or European?

Answer: What? I don't know that... ARGHHHhhhh

Re: The most controversial issue in music. #568321 02/29/04 03:51 PM
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I think I better give my opinion first, then you might understand the question. I believe that music is a born quality, but that it can also be learned. Those who learn it, however, are nothing more than robots that can be programed to play a certain way. What I am about to say will, no doubt, make me the most hated person on these forums. I have listened to many, many performers, and on many instruments besides the piano. If I had to pick one group of people who seem to stand out as the most accomplished musicians, I would have to say the Asians. I do not know what it is about Asians, particularily the Chinese, that make them so diligent in music, but they seem to be the most dedicated people I have ever met. However, I also noticed that the majority of them play extremely mechanically, almost like a machine. It sounds like they are computers, where someone inserts a disk into the back of their heads with some sheet music on it, with dynamics and articulation marked in, and they play it very well according to the sheet music, but there is absolutely to musicality, feeling, or originality to their playing. Richard Gere, in the movie "Pretty Woman," took this girl to see an Opera, and said something that really caught my attention: "You either hate Opare, or you love it. If you hate it, you may come to appreciate it, but it will never become part of your soul." So, in the same way, you can teach someone music, and they can become very good at it, but in the end, it doesn't make you musical. It is not the teaching that makes you musical, it is the fact that you are, in fact, a musician. To take a non-musical person and try to teach them to be musical is, in my opinion, like trying to teach a dog to be a cat. It is just not possible. You can teach a dog to meow, eat cat food, and even purr, but it is still a dog. Musicians and non-musicians are as different as black and white, male and female, fire and water. If you are offended by this, then you must be racist, prejudice, and sexist, because you would be saying that black is better than white, female is better than male, etc. and vice versa. Just as some carpenters, painters, and writers will never be musicians, some musicians will never be carpenters, painters, and writers. There is nothing wrong with being one and not the other. So in my opinion, music is something that some people have, and some people do not.

Re: The most controversial issue in music. #568322 02/29/04 04:37 PM
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Hello Shrek,

I don't like the either-or aspect of your answer. Rather, I see one's innate musicality as a continuum ... from those folks who seem to have virtually no talent, all the way up to the greats like Chopin, Mozart, et al.

But the issue is more complex than that. I'm fairly musical and make a concerted effort never to play robotically, but there are a few pieces that truly resonate deep within my soul -- I can play these pieces MUCH better than my other pieces. This is likely to be true for most musicians, I should guess.


pianodevo
Re: The most controversial issue in music. #568323 02/29/04 04:58 PM
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Teaching a student someone else's interpretation of a piece of music down to the exact nuance does not make them musical, I agree. However, that approach is similar to buying someone a fish as opposed to teaching them to fish. It does not mean that you can not teach someone what it is to be musical, via a more wholistic approach, and it certainly does not mean that it is impossible for that person to become musical, although the way they think may have to change significantly.

The either/or approach is palpably wrong.

Re: The most controversial issue in music. #568324 02/29/04 09:46 PM
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Kodaly says: "music ... should be taught to a child nine months before the birth of the MOTHER"

Suzuki believed that babies were not 'born' with any special genetic code for music. What appears to be 'talent' cannot be ascertained until the baby has grown into at least a toddler, or young child. That's a lot of formative years. And what exposure to music has the child had in those years?

This is the old question of nurture or nature.

I used to believe that you were either born with it or not. Now I believe it is nurture. But it needs to start even before the baby is born. If it is not given until the child is ten, or worse, a teenager, then of course it's going to be harder to instill. THey may get the 'technical' side brilliantly - music is afterall very mathmetical, but unless they can develop the particular sensitivity needed to be 'musical' they may always play 'like a robot'. This is no fault of their own. It was lack of the needed nurture when they were in the womb/cradle.
I believe musicality is closely related to sensitivity, intimacy, introspective analysis of people and the world.
It can be taught. Not through scales and correct hand position, but by what goes into the mind and gets rolled around in there.
So for me, it's nurture - parents, culture, opportunity, time, experiences, values - which all shape personality which shapes abilities.
Extremely complex. That's why we're all different!
So to follow format:
Yes, it is leanred.
Before birth, in the cradle, as a toddler and for the rest of your life.

Re: The most controversial issue in music. #568325 02/29/04 09:54 PM
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Originally posted by Spock:
Teaching a student someone else's interpretation of a piece of music down to the exact nuance does not make them musical, I agree. However, that approach is similar to buying someone a fish as opposed to teaching them to fish.
I see I am misunderstood here. I am not saying that teaching the student to follow someone's interpretation is a bad thing. What I am saying is that they cannot do anything beyond that. I might sound a bit corny here, but music must, repeat, must come from the heart. If the music is not in your heart, then your playing will always sound dead, because there will be no heart in it, and therefore no life. If music is not in your heart to begin with, how can you put it in? If you teach an unmusical student to merely copy other peoples playing, they will get a lot of head knowledge, but no heart knowledge. I am a christian, and therefore must try to look at things from a christian perspective. In this world, there are two types of people: Christians and non-christians. True, some non-christians do become christians, but not all of them do. Election, probably the most disputed issue in all of christianity, is hated by most people because it says that God chooses to save some, and not to save others. He does not, as many people say, give everyone in the world the opportunity to be saved. The same with music, and any other gift people have. Music is a gift from God, and not everyone has it. Leadership is a gift from God, but not all people have it. Some might say, "Well I don't want to be a leader, I want to be a carpenter." But is that going to do any good? Shall what is formed say to he who formed it, "Why did you make me this way?" No! People seem to take that fact that they are not musical as an insult. I sometimes wish I could work machinery, but machinery is not my gift. So, those who have the gift of music should be glad, and those who have any other gift should also be glad. Being jealous will not make you musical, any more than being jealous will make me more skilled with machinery.

Re: The most controversial issue in music. #568326 02/29/04 09:55 PM
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Re: The most controversial issue in music. #568327 02/29/04 10:28 PM
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I am a christian, and therefore must try to look at things from a christian perspective. In this world, there are two types of people: Christians and non-christians.
I think we can now understand why Shrek chose to pose the question in such an either/or manner. He sees no shades of gray!


"My atheism, like that of Spinoza, is true piety towards the universe and denies only gods fashioned by men in their own image, to be servants of their human interests." - Santayana
Re: The most controversial issue in music. #568328 02/29/04 10:32 PM
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For some people, playing the piano comes almost inherently in them. For others, they couldn't hold a tune if they had been tutored for a decade. For the rest of us, I think, there are varying levels of musical ability. Yes, for the majority of people we must be taught but, what we are able to accomplish within that teaching is limited by who we are. Some have to work harder than others.

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