Does Biology Matter?

Talk about things that are not necessarily related to music or the guitar.
User avatar
Alexander Kalil
Posts: 217
Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:53 pm
Location: Germany

Re: Does Biology Matter?

Post by Alexander Kalil » Sat Mar 09, 2019 9:37 am

Rognvald wrote:
Fri Mar 08, 2019 3:27 pm
there are some players that will never perform at a high level no matter how long they have played. And, for me, this is more of a function of biology than hard work.
Sure biology matters, as does hard work, but in my opinion both matter far less than the quality of instruction a player receive in their developmental years. I have known many talented and hard working people who never succeeded in performing at a high level, and it usually turned out that they never had the luck to have a really good teacher.

I have also known CG "aficionados" who practice 2-3 hours daily under the guidance of a good teacher, for many years, and never really progress beyond a certain level.
The might do if they had an even better teacher.

User avatar
Stephen Kenyon
Teacher
Posts: 2948
Joined: Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:26 am
Location: Dorchester, Dorset, England

Re: Does Biology Matter?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Sat Mar 09, 2019 10:39 am

Other less obvious aspects of biology that have a role;

Sheer resilience. Especially in modern times, being able to get off a plane in a completely different time zone, go play the Aranjuez at what your body thinks is 4 am, time and again, is an extreme example, but even a moderately long journey can have an effect on energy. Plus staying in strange places, eating strange things, the whole lifestyle business of being on tour in the proper sense is physically demanding, and I for one found it hard even on my rather too easy tours in the past.

I don't know if I ever read this or it was just an idea of mine, but just as natural sprinters, as I understand it, have an abundance of fast-twitch muscles, compared to endurance athletes, being able to play fast is only in part due to training; I think I'm right is saying such muscles also exist in the hands and are needed to perform the rapid flexion-extension action of the fingers.

Elite players also have to be careful in how they manage their musculature over time. For instance they have to be cautious in any sports they play, not just to avoid injuries but to avoid developing muscles that hinder their playing systems. A bit like the way its unusual to have the musculature to play completly different instruments to a high standard. Even similar instruments; I have found that the use of the left hand in electric guitar hinders my technique for classical. The right hand may be even more affected in many cases, though perhaps not mine.
Simon Ambridge Series 40 (2005)
Trevor Semple Series 88 (1992)
Louis Panormo (1838)
Alexander Batov Baroque Guitar (2013)
Simon Ambridge 'Hauser' (2018)

User avatar
Julian Ward
Posts: 311
Joined: Sun Nov 04, 2018 10:52 am
Location: UK

Re: Does Biology Matter?

Post by Julian Ward » Sat Mar 09, 2019 1:08 pm

The thing that always gets the point across to those who don't believe in nature. Remember back to school. There were people that could naturally draw, excellently, as kids- with no training. There were people that couldn't -
their pictures were hilarious.... They would have had endless art lessons through their school life, they would have improved - but they would never be able to draw like that kid, right at the beginning.

Now think of the kid that could run faster than everybody else. No lessons, no training...And think of the kid who was the slowest. Exactly the same as music I am afraid. We are absolutely not all born equal. I was born with natural musical aptidute and 'potential' (as were many of you) and none of that has anything to do with finger length - It is far more complex than that and is something I believe that humans will never be able to fully understand.
Classical guitar teacher

Rognvald
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:21 am

Re: Does Biology Matter?

Post by Rognvald » Sat Mar 09, 2019 2:01 pm

Thanks, all, for the great responses! We live in an epoch where the concept that we "are all the same" and that it is only opportunity that separates us from each other is the daily mantra. And this is false because it creates in people the notion that you can be anything you want to be with hard work and discipline. So, how does this apply to those of us that chase the Muse of Music? I once studied with a young CG teacher with a MFA in guitar performance from the famous guitar program at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. He was teaching at a local college and it was convenient and close to home with my busy work schedule(non-musical) at the time. It was apparent, immediately, that despite his advanced training, he was not a good "player" and was well below me in his skill set. He came from a long line of attorneys on his father's side and he had great angst since he felt his father was pushing him to give up the music he loved and go to law school. I quit my lessons during mid-semester since it was a waste of time and found another teacher who was a performing concert artist that helped me greatly in my journey. Several months later, I ran into my old "teacher" at a local store and he told me he was going back to Law School and was giving up Music. Years passed and one day I was watching the national news and saw my old "teacher" on TV. He was a famous lawyer with national accolades and listed as one of the top 100 lawyers in the US. I suppose he still loves Music but found his natural talent. It wasn't music. Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

SleepyheadRooster
Posts: 269
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2018 5:47 am
Location: Oregon

Re: Does Biology Matter?

Post by SleepyheadRooster » Sat Mar 09, 2019 3:36 pm

Yes. It matters. But it’s out of your sphere of influence. Best to worry about the variables you can control. Don’t let biology be an excuse.

Some good posts in this thread.
Best,
Chuck

Rognvald
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:21 am

Re: Does Biology Matter?

Post by Rognvald » Sun Mar 10, 2019 1:59 pm

"I have often wondered how many Mozarts or Einsteins are living in a jungle." Bear


Great line, Bear! I have said this my entire life in regards to how many great artists are living among us that never had the opportunity to flower due to place of birth or economic conditions. Even those born to the middle classes have a real choice to make: do I pursue a life of poor economic reward and difficult living conditions or do I get a "piece of the pie"--marry, have kids, buy a home, save for retirement and live a prosperous life much as my old teacher who became a celebrated lawyer. Of course, I am speaking about "artists/musicians" who don't teach for a real living but seek to work as a full-time musician(excuse this oxymoron!). So, when a teacher has a student that is very serious about being a full-time musician, but will never be anything other than mediocre--does he tell him/her the reality, at some point, or does he encourage the student and nurture his unrealistic dream? What's the right thing to do? Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

Improvisator
Posts: 24
Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2019 9:54 am

Re: Does Biology Matter?

Post by Improvisator » Sun Mar 10, 2019 2:08 pm

Biology is from the science departement.
Science did nothing for music.

Rognvald
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:21 am

Re: Does Biology Matter?

Post by Rognvald » Sun Mar 10, 2019 2:11 pm

Improvisator wrote:
Sun Mar 10, 2019 2:08 pm
Biology is from the science departement.
Science did nothing for music.

Tell that to those who own a Stradavarius! Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

Improvisator
Posts: 24
Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2019 9:54 am

Re: Does Biology Matter?

Post by Improvisator » Sun Mar 10, 2019 2:22 pm

Rognvald wrote:
Sun Mar 10, 2019 2:11 pm
Improvisator wrote:
Sun Mar 10, 2019 2:08 pm
Biology is from the science departement.
Science did nothing for music.

Tell that to those who own a Stradavarius! Playing again . . . Rognvald
I tell it here. Might be sufficiënt.

Stradivarius might have been an obstruction for music. Who knows?

Chantysboy7
Posts: 89
Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2017 3:00 pm

Re: Does Biology Matter?

Post by Chantysboy7 » Sun Mar 10, 2019 2:42 pm

I just finished a book called "The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born, It's Grown" I'll let you read it and draw your own conclusions. I've also been following a program by Joshua Voiles called Guitar Acceleration with really good results. It has changed the way I practice.

User avatar
Denian Arcoleo
Composer
Posts: 6407
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2006 3:39 pm
Location: Somerset, England

Re: Does Biology Matter?

Post by Denian Arcoleo » Sun Mar 10, 2019 3:12 pm

Improvisator wrote:
Sun Mar 10, 2019 2:08 pm
Science did nothing for music.
Bach?

User avatar
Rick Beauregard
Student tutor
Posts: 1746
Joined: Thu Nov 06, 2014 5:23 am
Location: Blaine, WA

Re: Does Biology Matter?

Post by Rick Beauregard » Sun Mar 10, 2019 3:41 pm

Rognvald wrote:
Sat Mar 09, 2019 2:01 pm
Thanks, all, for the great responses! We live in an epoch where the concept that we "are all the same" and that it is only opportunity that separates us from each other is the daily mantra. And this is false because it creates in people the notion that you can be anything you want to be with hard work and discipline.
This again!

First, biology on one level is just the organization of and differentiation of cells and chemicals in an organism that collectively perform various functions. On the other level, every thought you have, every dream, every twitch, and how you plan for the future, is because of biology.

The point of the research that concludes that deliberate practice for a very long time (10,000 hours) trumps talent (biology) is not that everyone is equally endowed at all things. It is that many more of us are endowed much more than we’ve been led to believe, and if you polish that raw stone you might make it shine.

I think that if one could design the right experiment this could be proven. But since this thread is all about anecdotal evidence, I submit that you all know more very competent “masters” of our instrument and music in general who worked their asses off to get there while overcoming some “biology” hurdle, than people you know who popped out of the womb as musical savants.

Humans are not rational beings. Which is why we gravitate to the exceptions in life, rather than the rule. The exceptions are “prodigies” and “gifted” people who come by it easy. The rule is the rest of us who had to work with the biology we got.

The other anecdotal likelihood is that there are many more millions of the billions of souls in Asia or Africa who have the biology to become Mozarts than there are who were born under circumstances where this is likely to happen. Biology is not the limiting factor.

Rog, that doesn’t mean “we’re all the same”. That sir is a canard.
All this time I thought I was making music; it was making me.
2015 Steve Ganz "Solidarity"
1980 Dauphin D30
1962 Fender pre-CBS P-Bass
National Triolian Uke ca.1930
Almost as many fly rods as guitars
_/) _/)
_/)

Dirck Nagy
Posts: 1019
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 4:47 pm
Location: Wisconsin, USA

Re: Does Biology Matter?

Post by Dirck Nagy » Sun Mar 10, 2019 4:12 pm

Denian Arcoleo wrote:
Sun Mar 10, 2019 3:12 pm
Improvisator wrote:
Sun Mar 10, 2019 2:08 pm
Science did nothing for music.
Bach?
No, not Bach. Think "Milton Babbitt" instead.

User avatar
Rick Beauregard
Student tutor
Posts: 1746
Joined: Thu Nov 06, 2014 5:23 am
Location: Blaine, WA

Re: Does Biology Matter?

Post by Rick Beauregard » Sun Mar 10, 2019 4:18 pm

Pythagoras?
All this time I thought I was making music; it was making me.
2015 Steve Ganz "Solidarity"
1980 Dauphin D30
1962 Fender pre-CBS P-Bass
National Triolian Uke ca.1930
Almost as many fly rods as guitars
_/) _/)
_/)

Rognvald
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:21 am

Re: Does Biology Matter?

Post by Rognvald » Sun Mar 10, 2019 4:20 pm

"I think that if one could design the right experiment this could be proven. But since this thread is all about anecdotal evidence, I submit that you all know more very competent “masters” of our instrument and music in general who worked their asses off to get there while overcoming some “biology” hurdle, than people you know who popped out of the womb as musical savants. " Rick B.


Hi, Rick,
This, of course, would be very difficult to prove whereas contrariwise, the rapid rise of talented people is self-evident to all who follow their paths. My point is this: it is one thing to pursue music as a hobby to enrichen one's life with the realization that it can only be a hobby based on a human's limited potential. However, for a teacher to encourage a student to pursue music as a life trajectory is disingenuous when their only hope is to be mediocre. And, for the stubborn-minded player who believes that hard work and discipline will lead to musical nirvana--- it is sadly delusional and a waste of time and effort much as the 140-pound athlete who dreams of playing right tackle for the Chicago Bears. I have played with countless musicians over the years whose love and dedication to music was admirable and touching but they were the same player at 50 years old that they were at 25 irrespective of hard work, devotion and drive. Even a motor has a top end and once it's achieved, you can't get greater speed. Thanks for the thoughtful reply . . . Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

Return to “The Café”