Are master musicians born with their skills intact? Some musicians say it was inevitable that Mozart or Stevie Wonder would rise to the top of their professions. Others believe musical skills are only acquired through a singular dedication to daily work.
Being born with a certain genetic predisposition toward something (Nature) does seem necessary for certain professions. It’s difficult to be an elite-level basketball player if you’re short and impossible to become the winning jockey at the Kentucky Derby if you’re extremely tall.
What about music? Can someone with only modest talent at a young age rise to the top through hard work and constant practicing (Nurture)?
Most recent research suggests that this is the case. If you are motivated to succeed, willing to put in the time, and conscientious about practicing every day, you can achieve your musical goals.
Though some people do seem to have a genetic predisposition toward becoming musicians, there are non-musical skills required to become a professional in the music world:
–self-discipline and self-confidence
–diligence and persistence
Without these qualities, it is unlikely someone will continue to play music for the amount of time needed to become really good. People who quickly give in to frustration, or who decide they’d rather watch TV than practice today, won’t be able to acquire the expertise needed to be a top-notch player.
If you want your musical dreams to become a reality (and, if you’re reading this blog, I would guess you do), make sure you develop these non-musical traits along with doing everything possible to become a virtuoso performer. Nurturing your playing is about your musical skills AND your attitude.
When you are patient and you put in the time every day, you can stay motivated through the ups and downs of the learning curve, through the initial difficulties of developing an advanced technique, and through the sometimes tedious task of learning the three or four bars of a song that seem impossible the first time you try to play them.
Actually, being patient and persistent makes the whole process of becoming an advanced-level musician less tedious, less difficult, and more fun.
I like the “Nurture” argument for one other reason: It’s forward-looking.
“Nature” looks backward, at what you were born with. There’s nothing you can do to change that. “Nurture” describes the actions you take today and in the future.
You can change your future–and achieve your musical dreams and goals–by nurturing the right skills.