Motivation from an unexpected source - Business Week Magazine - this issue covers a camp for musical virtuosos and puts a little science behind the "effort vs born with it" debate. Check it . . .
From the mag article - you can read the whole thing HERE
Scientists have investigated this question of expertise -- specifically, skill at a level that seems unobtainable by normal, motivated individuals.
In one study, researchers led by Florida State University professor K. Anders Ericsson studied musicians at a Berlin conservatory.
Students were divided into three skill levels, including one the faculty had identified as having the best chance of becoming world-class soloists. The researchers had the students keep diaries of their schedules and looked at such information as when they started playing and their practice habits as children.
The results were clear-cut, with little room for any sort of inscrutable God-given talent. The elite musicians had simply practiced far more than the others.
"That's been replicated for all sorts of things -- chess players and athletes, dart players," says Ericsson.
"The only striking difference between experts and amateurs is in this capability to deliberately practice."
The group even determined the number of hours musicians must play to compete at the highest professional level -- about 10,000, the equivalent of practicing four hours a day, every day, for almost seven years.
The more opportunities I get to play or hang with high level musicians I can say this has become my standard observation. I've gotten to the point where I can watch a high level player perform and SEE the hours and hours - years on years of PRACTICE that is at work behind what often appears effortless.
I'm fond of saying to people who compliment my playing that I "bust my ass for every note". And that's true - there's nothing "given" about what I'm doing - I'm busting my ass to play this shit!
I keep going back to my Vic Wooten story about noticing how the finish was rubbed down to the wood on his bass. The shit Vic pulls off on bass has YEARS of steady non stop practice behind it. There's no mystery. There's no magic formula. There's those who put in the time - and those who don't. That's about it.
On the one hand it can be discouraging - particulalry for me. Starting late in life with my music I'm faced with the concept of NEVER really reaching the level of mastery of today's greats. I've let that notion discourage me right out of even playing in the not so distant past.
When I see guys like Manring and others of that caliber -It's obvious that there's nothing I can ever do that will make up for the 20+ years of shedding and "road chops" those guys have.
On the other hand - I realize I can only be as good as I can ever be. My personal journey is different - and that I can only be on MY journey - not someone else's. And my particular journey is one where I'm starting late - or coming back to it after years of not doing it. That's my journey. And while there's things about it that annoy me - there's nothing I can do but move forward.
At least I know that it really is all about putting in the time. Keep putting in the time and effort and I will make the noise in my head come to life.
Cuz that's really what it's all about.