What Does It Take To Become A Top Notch Musician?

man playing an instrument

If you were to go around asking everyone what they think are the ingredients for a successful music career, you will hear as many answers as there are respondents. However, you will notice that some of them will be repeated by many people, even though they may be in different words.

Some of the common answers you will get include practice, hard work, determination, talent, passion, and desire. One of the long debates that have existed over time in any field of art has been that of talent vs. hard work. The question of whether it is talent or hard work that takes the day has been pondered by many. Is it nature or nurture that is most important for success in whatever a person is involved in?

The following post describes this debate in greater detail:

A musician plays a double bass in a free concert at the National Theatre.
Image Courtesy of Flickr

Talent vs. Hardwork

There are two types of people in this world: the strivers and the naturally talented. The strivers are the ones who work hard for what they want to achieve. The naturally talented already have what it takes to achieve their goal. Although the debate of whether or not hard work is more important than talent has been around forever, there is no one definite answer.

“Practice makes perfect.” We’ve all heard that saying before, that we can accomplish anything if we keep practicing. But that’s not exactly true. Hard work can only take a person so far. Via Teen Ink

The debate continues, and research has been carried out to determine which of the two contribute to a person’s success. While it is true that practice goes a long way in perfecting the skills a person is seeking to acquire, it cannot work on its own, as the post above describes. More is needed than either talent or hard work on their own to bring about success.

This is more evident in the world of music. Have you ever made a rule that all your children must learn an instrument as they grow up? What happens when they get to practice time? Which of them displays more progress and enjoyment in learning their instrument? Isn’t it true that you could invest hours and hours into music practice and yet get nothing out of it? The following post brings this point home in a better way:

man holding the saxophone
Image Courtesy of Flickr

Talent vs Practice in Music

What is talent? Are you born with it – or does it seem to develop over time? When I started looking into this I quickly discovered I had opened a can of worms. The amount of controversy over nature vs nurture can be somewhat overwhelming. However, despite being a relatively young musician I was keen to try and tackle this question, taking my personal experiences into account.

Before I start I’d like to say that one thing everyone agrees on is that the most skilled musicians have worked hard to get there. It’s hard to dispute the thousands of hours the great (and maybe the not-so-great) musicians you hear on the radio or in concert have practiced to become who they are. With this in mind, how much did talent contribute to their success? Via Musical U

From the above post, it’s clear that talent offers a head start in the race to musical excellence. Both the talented and the not-so-talented need to work hard to get ahead in their pursuits. It will definitely be easier for a talented person to understand the music, while someone else may need to put more effort in the journey. Ultimately, you need both talent (to a certain extent) and practice (to a great extent) to excel in music.

And yet, there’s a new twist to this when seeking a deeper understanding of what it takes to excel in music – is talent and practice all that is needed? In the post above, the writer mentions that a person starts by playing around with the piano and then when he “falls in love” with the instrument, he goes ahead to pursue it further. What do you call that “falling in love”? The following post explains this concept:

man playing the piano facing away fro the piano
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

Talent Vs. Hard Work

It’s an age-old debate: talent versus hard work. There is no clear cut answer which one is better than the other. Without hard work, talent can only bring one so far. Compared to talent, hard work may be able to take one further but there is also a limit.

However the underlying key driver of excelling in the instrument one is learning cannot be solely attributed to either talent or hard work.

It is passion. Without passion to drive the individual, talent and hard work mean nothing and will not result in progress and success. Via Swee Lee Music Academy

Over and above talent and hard work (practice) in the music world, it is the passion for the instrument and the music that will keep you going. Passion will birth a sense of determination that cannot be shut down by the challenges that arise on the journey towards musical excellence.

Featured Image: Image Credit

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